Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Pop-Up Shop

By QuickBooks Canada Team

3 min read

Pop-up shops are on the rise. These trendy shops are great to introduce new products, test markets, move surpluses, market your brand, or sell seasonal products. Pop-ups can appear for a limited time in a certain area, or they can have a mobile presence, hopping from city to city. In either case, they often rely on social media and strong marketing to get the word out. If you’re thinking about launching a pop-up, here is what you need to keep in mind.

The Slant

If you want your pop-up shop to be as successful as possible, try to identify why you’re hosting a pop-up, and let your objectives guide you along the way. For example, if you want to promote your brand, you may want to consider a multi-city tour. Similarly, if you’re trying to introduce a new product, find out where your demographic shops and bring the pop-up there. If selling seasonal goods, schedule your pop-up to reach peak holiday shopping traffic.

The Spot

Pop-ups can be in a range of places, and you should select your spot based on the demographic you want to reach as well as your budget. If you want to showcase your brand or product for a short period of time, consider booking a booth at a trade show or expo. Farmers’ markets and artisan fairs are also a possibility.

If you prefer to have a shop for a few weeks or even a month or more, look into renting space in a mall or shopping district. Sites such as Storefront are the Airbnb of the pop-up world. This company posts ads for available pop-up locations in Canada and around the world, and it also offers concierge services to help you find the spot of your dreams.

Alternatively, you can even set up pop-ups in existing businesses. This works best when your product complements the inventory in the existing store. For example, if you’re using a pop-up to promote your bridal planning business or candle-making shop, a pop-up in a floral shop may create the synergy you need.

Logistics

Long before the pop-up becomes a reality, you need to start mapping out the logistics and budgeting for expenses. In addition to ensuring you have ample amounts of inventory, you should investigate overhead costs such as renting space and paying for utilities. Also, remember to take into account ancillary costs such as tables, clothing racks, display cases, and special lighting fixtures.

For the shop to run efficiently, you need a way to track purchases, calculate sales tax, and accept payments, so investigate mobile point of sale systems. If the shop is only open for a few days, you may want to sign up for a mobile payment processing plan that charges a small fee per transaction. If you plan to take the shop to multiple locations, however, you may want a more advanced POS system that allows you to enter inventory.

You may also want to book liability, damage, or cancellation insurance to protect yourself financially. If you need help running the pop-up, you should start looking for employees; you can put an ad on local job listing sites or contact a temp agency so you don’t have to worry about interviewing and recruiting.

Marketing

Your marketing campaign should take a multi-pronged approach that involves reaching out to existing clients, tapping into the local market, capitalizing on foot traffic, and leveraging social media and influencers. To let your existing clientele know about the pop-up, post announcements on your social media accounts, create a banner on your website, and send emails or postcards to your marketing list.

To reach local markets, don’t hesitate to use traditional marketing venues such as local TV, radio, and newspapers. Additionally, you should also reach out to locals through social media. Find influencers in the area. For example, if a certain fashion blogger is big in that area and you plan to sell clothing in your pop-up, send the blogger a press release or invite him or her to a pre-opening party where you showcase your products. If you plan to take your show to multiple locations, you should focus on influencers related to your product niche. The more people you can get to tweet, post to Instagram, or blog about your pop-up, the better.

To capitalize on foot traffic, you need to choose your location carefully. When renting space, talk about the number of visitors to the area on a daily or weekly basis. In most cases, the landlord or property management company should be able to answer those questions. Also, make sure you prominently display signage, and consider using guerrilla marketing techniques to draw even more traffic.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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