What is a Pop Up Shop?


Pops up shops, in short, are temporary retail stores. Pop ups are named to emphasize their unexpected arrival and departure from a location, and that’s their greatest appeal. They have the uncanny ability to invigorate the energy around a brand, a product, a retail destination, or a special date. When they’re managed well, and designed for the experience, they give customers a unique opportunity to interact with products and explore the brand.

For a detailed explanation, review “How to Plan a Shipping Container Pop Up.”


How are Pop Up Shops Used?

So we know pop up shops are temporary, and we know that brands want to use them because their surprise appearances generate buzz and their quick departure develops a sense of urgency with customers. The next piece of the puzzle is to address how they may be used. While most brands look at pop up shops as a marketing ploy, their value extends far beyond social media metrics or short-term sales opportunities. Pop ups usually come to life as:

Event-based pop up shops: these are date-driven pop ups. Most often, we see event based pop up shops for product launches and to leverage a brand’s presence at an event like a trade show, festival, conference, etc.

Example: adidas’ pop up for University of Kansas March Madness Elite 8 game

Market testing: these are location-driven pop ups. Brands, most commonly franchises, will utilize a pop up shop to see if a specific location would be suitable for a permanent branch/ franchise. During their test, brands will look for high traffic volume, pedestrian mix, and some level of sales metrics to determine if the location is compatible with their brand.

Clicks-to-bricks: these are brand and sales-driven pop ups. When online retailers are struggling to develop their customer base, want to evolve into a physical location, or would like to conduct a promotion tour, pop ups allow them the flexibility to move locations with a low-commitment space.

Example: BeautyKind College Tour

Mobile Marketing Tour

Seasonal shops: these are driven by the seasons and holidays. A seasonal product is one that is typically bought during a certain time of year. Examples include beachwear, ornaments, sleds, Valentine cards, and Halloween costumes. Pop ups allow for businesses that specialize in one or more seasonal products to only utilize space (and pay rent) during the months that make sense for them to conduct business.

Example: Frey Easter Holiday Pop Up Shop

pop up

Property-driven: the property owner drives these, typically as a reaction to increased vacancies. Under these circumstances, a retail property will lease vacant spaces in their malls, mixed-use development, outparcels for short-term pop ups or provide incubator space for a local start-up.

Example: One Loudoun’s Incubator Outparcel

One Loudoun Shipping Containers

Why use a Pop Up Shop?

Pop up shops are experiential:

To increase customer engagement, interest, and traffic in a physical retail space, pop-ups are one way that brands can leverage experiences to increase sales. For more information on how experiential affects the buyer’s journey and sales, read our blog, “Can High School Psychology Teach You about Experiential Retail?”

Pop up shops are temporary:

If you want to develop a sense of urgency (or are a free spirit who just can’t be tied down) temporary opportunities create scarcity. If people know your shop won’t last long, they’re more likely to feel a sense of urgency about visiting your pop up shop.

Pop up shops are mobile:

Pop up shops give you the flexibility to go out and find your target market. You don’t need to be in a building. You don’t even need to be on a street or sidewalk. Pop up shops can empower you to take advantage of underutilized and negative spaces.

Pop up shops are inexpensive:

When it comes to total cost of ownership, pop up shops are less expensive because they allow you to have physical locations without committing to rent in a specific place or paying to modify and up-fit each location. Depending on the materials and structure you use for your pop up shop, you could realize even more savings

Learn more about the benefits of pop up shops by reading, “4 Benefits of Shipping Container Pop Up Shops.”


How to Plan a Pop-Up: Strategic Overview

When we talk about strategy, we mean a written-down account of your offering, the offering’s value propositions, who your customers are, and what channels you use to connect with them (channel). This process isn’t unique to developing pop-ups. Nonetheless, it will inform how you proceed through the rest of this process.

For a full drill down into pop up strategy, options, and formulas for success check out our blog post, “How to plan a shipping container pop up”

Budgeting for Pop Up Shops

Your location – 30% of Overall Budget

Logistics and storage services- 10%-20% of Overall Budget

Store design and layout – 20% of Overall Budget

Promotion, Staffing, and Miscellaneous- 30%

For a detailed explanation of each budget item, review our blog, “Budgeting for pop up shops 101”