How to Perfect the Pop-Up Shop & Grow Your Retail Brand

September 27, 2018

By Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto(opens in new tab)


In short: 

  • Retail pop-up shops(opens in new tab) can be a valuable way to grow your customer base and generate exposure, if designed correctly. 

  • Decide on a goal for your pop-up, whether it’s to win customers, sell a particular product or boost brand awareness. Then, choose a location and build an experience based on that goal.

  • Evaluate your pop-up’s performance as it relates to the initial goal. Social media is critical for learning how your pop-up was received and iterating for your next event.


For online retailers(opens in new tab) or those with limited brick-and-mortar stores, pop-up shops can be a smart way to directly engage customers. They allow your staff to put a human face to your brand name. You can showcase products, provide a temporary buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) location or simply create brand awareness. In other words, pop-ups can result in new customers, a better connection with existing customers, increased sales and social media buzz(opens in new tab).

But there’s more to a pop-up shop than simply throwing up a tent. If you are thinking of launching one, a few decisions require your attention.

How to choose the right location

Decide on the goal of your pop-up. Then, choose location accordingly. As an online retailer, you likely have large amounts of data about where your customers are concentrated. You can use this to determine the location likely to give you the most success. However, the goal of your pop-up should factor into your decision: Are you aiming for brand exposure, product sales or something else? Each goal may require a different location.

For example, if the goal is to sell specific products, finding a location that appeals to the target customer may be more important than a highly-trafficked location. If your goal is exposure, finding a highly-trafficked area may provide more value than being in a prime shopping location.

popup shop layout

How to choose a partner

If it furthers the pop-up’s goal, go for it. Not all pop-ups need to be stand-alone experiences. Consider finding a complimentary company to partner with. Teaming up with a brand that has a similar demographic can double your promotional efforts. 

However, when sourcing a partner, always refer back to the goals of your pop-up. If the partnership doesn’t benefit your pop-up’s overall goal (brand exposure, sales of a singular product, etc.), then scrap it.

How to design an experience

Get inside your customer’s head. Now more than ever, consumers expect a good experience(opens in new tab). This is especially true when it comes to temporary events like pop-ups. So, walk through what your customers would want from their visit: Do they want to interact, socialize, ask questions, play games, browse products, try new products or just plain shop? Determine what they want, then review your goal for the event. From there, you can begin to build the experience.

Your pop-up will need to offer some novelty. Your customers can always shop conveniently on your website, so ask yourself, “What would inspire someone to go out of their way to visit my pop-up?” You might offer an exclusive experience, like a celebrity guest. You might have free drinks or gift wrapping. Ask yourself what will generate social buzz.  

If you’re not sure what would inspire a customer or potential customer to visit, ask them on your brand’s social media account, or do some research via your own personal account(opens in new tab)

outdoor pop-up shop

How to evaluate when it’s over

Measure based on your pop-up’s initial goal, and use social media. When all is said and done, be sure to learn from your experience and iterate for the next event. Did it go as anticipated? Why? If not, maybe it wasn’t in the right neighborhood. Maybe the environment or location was too intimidating, too intimate or not intimate enough. Maybe the traffic was too high to provide a proper customer experience. Proper evaluation of the events is critical.

Solicit feedback from the customers who attended. Social media makes this easy: Set up and follow a unique event hashtag so you can easily track the experience. Your learnings from this experience may even help you improve your overall web or customer service experience.

Hopefully your pop-up goes better than planned, and you forge both new and better customer relationships. But if it doesn’t, don’t waste the opportunity to learn from it.

Learn more about creating the perfect pop-up experience on “The Commerce Marketer Podcast(opens in new tab).”

  Like what you see? Follow Grow Wire on Twitter(opens in new tab) for more growth advice.

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