The Basics of Running a Popup (approx. reading time: 10 minutes)

Popup is a trend that is sticking around in the eCommerce world, as shown by the emerging number from brands large and small, you may feel inclined to jump on in. But before you dive in head first, let us help you plan the journey ahead. In our first chapter of How to Run an eCommerce Popup Shop, we introduce the basics of popups and why you should throw one as a growing brand.


What is a Popup Shop?

Popups are short term events held in a physical location that serve as a long-term impression maker in consumer minds. They are especially popular among eCommerce retailers because they allow consumers to experience the brand’s product or service in-person for the first time.You can communicate your brand’s message to consumers through the use of the engaging and creative atmosphere of the space you use and also create an interactive shopping experience for consumers at the same time.

Which benefits does a Popup provide?

  1. It can help you engage customers offline by allowing them to experience your product or service in-person, which has been shown to improve the shopping experience for consumers. 
  2. Driving the sense of urgency factor for consumers. By this we mean that by giving your customers a limited period of time to interact with the brand and product/service, they will be way more inclined to purchase; so take advantage of their urge to spend.
  3. It can help you educate your new consumers on brand history, production processes, ways to style or use your product/service, etc. You can also get real-time feedback on marketing efforts, your product/service, and reiterate the value of your brand when answering questions.
  4. Generating organic brand awareness. By engaging your consumers, both existing and potential, offline you are providing them with an experience that can definitely influence them to choose you over your competitors due to their newly created personal connection.

What are the goals of running a popup?

Every brand will have different goals for running a popup shop but these goals typically fall into three categories:

  1. Revenue Generation
  2. Increasing Brand Awareness
  3. Heightening Customer Engagement

It is very important to have a clear and defined goal when planning a popup because it will determine how you set up and run the popup from the store location to the marketing/promotion strategy design. To determine which goal(s) is best for you, consider the following questions before starting the planning process:

  1. Are you launching the brand for the first time?
  2. Are you testing new geographic locales to see if you can establish your brand there?
  3. Are you an experienced brand interested in experiential marketing and customer appreciation?
  4. Are you launching a new product line within your established brand?

Budgeting for your Popup

After defining your goal for your popup, the next step is to budget accordingly. Creating a well thought-out budget is clearly a vital step in the planning process, despite the size of your brand. You will need to know how much you can afford for:

  1. Rent and Utilities
  2. Insurance
  3. Merchandising fixtures
  4. Marketing and promotion materials
  5. Inventory
  6. Food and drinks

Knowing how much you can afford ahead of time will help you easily determine potential locations and just makes the process way less stressful in the long run. Another thing to factor in at this stage of planning is your POS system and its associated costs. We recommend using Square because of its low credit card fees, mobility, and ability to integrate with multiple devices at once. Plus it’s so easy to use and is customizable depending on the size of your pop-up.

Choosing Your Location

Once you’ve determined your budget, the next step is to find the perfect location for your popup (so exciting!). Scouting a temporary retail location used to be a lot harder, but with the growing interest in popups real estate owners have made it easier to rent out space. But before we get into how to look for an ideal space, we want to give you an idea of the kinds of spaces available nowadays:

  1. The Store Within a Store – If you are a budding brand, hosting your shop within a store is ideal because of the low overhead and high traffic. Just make sure that the partner store is a contextual fit for you because if you stick out like a sore thumb, it’ll be hard to convince shoppers to purchase your goods.
  2. Gallery or Event Space – These are ideal spaces for minimalist brands looking to make a visual impact, jewelry lines, or high-end apparel. Just make sure to make your merchandising displays as visually appealing as possible to encourage purchases.
  3. Vacant Street-Level Retail Space – If you are really looking to branch into a temporary physical location and have the budget to set up shop for a more extended time period, this kind of space is ideal for you. The real-estate agent in charge of this kind of property is more inclined to be flexible, so make sure to arrange the best deal ahead of time.


How do you find your ideal space?

Now that you’ve determined the kind of space you want to set up shop in, now it’s time to scout for an actual location. Before we go into the types of tools available for space hunting, here are a few tactics to make the search a bit easier from the beginning:

  1. Find referrals for trustworthy real estate agents
  2. Use professional network to find out about spaces that have been good to brands in the past
  3. Walk around ideal locales and contact agents/store owners directly

If that didn’t work, peruse these pop-up location marketplaces online:

  1. Republic Spaces
  2. Venfino
  3. goVACANT
  4. Popup Republic

These tools and tips will definitely make the location scouting process way easier and can give you more time to focus on the things that really matter – like your marketing and promotional strategy.

What to look for in a space?

When narrowing down those location choices you love, make sure to factor in the actual exterior and interior of the space before making your final decision.

Exterior factors:

  1. What is the potential target market foot-traffic for this location?
  2. Who are the other notable retailers in the area and are they complementary to my brand?
  3. Is the space noticeably signed or will we have to provide extra signage to get noticed?
  4. Is the overall space (both outside and inside) clean? But like actually clean…
  5. Is the space accessible by parking and local transit?

Interior factors:

  1. Is there more room in the back to stock inventory?
  2. Is there Wi-Fi for both consumer use and our POS system? If so, is it reliable and fast?
  3. Is there a restroom and enough space for a makeshift dressing room?
  4. Are there loss prevention tools available (i.e. security system or cameras)?

How to close the deal on your space:

Whoo! You’ve found the perfect popup space and now you have to close the deal. Once you get the space owner or real estate agent on the phone, here are some questions you have to ask:

  1. What is the rental cost and what is included in that cost?
  2. Are there any additional utility or maintenance costs?
  3. What is the exact layout of the space and can it be modified?
  4. Is there Wi-Fi or can I bring my own modem?
  5. Will I need insurance and who is liable for what?
  6. What is the deposit for the space and are there any additional signing costs?

Final Steps:

Now that you’ve gotten the nitty gritty details on your idea spaces, it is time for the final steps before actually signing the lease and getting the necessary license and permits. First, you have to tour the space during the hours your popup will run throughout a week’s time. Then request the leasing agreement to thoroughly look it over before putting down your deposit. Now that you’ve closed the deal, it’s time to plan how you’re going to make the popup a success!

By | 2017-12-28T15:05:50-05:00 April 5th, 2016|

About the Author:

Jordan Harrison is the digital and social media marketing manager at Current Commerce. She seeks to help clients find the best and most efficient ways to market their businesses while also having the best time doing it.