This post was originally published on the Shopify Retail blog.
With the winter holidays upon us, you may be thinking about how to engage shoppers and increase sales for your business this time of year. There are several ways to do that, like adding seasonal products to your inventory, boosting advertising, and offering major discounts. But one avenue you may not have considered is hosting a holiday pop-up shop.
Pop-up shops, which are any short-term, temporary retail events, are growing in popularity. No longer solely the domain of small or online businesses, pop-ups are now common among large, mainstream companies like Nordstrom, IKEA, and Amazon. They’re an effective way to promote new products, test out an emerging market, liquidate surplus inventory, and increase brand awareness — all while keeping overhead costs low.
The holiday season, when shoppers are out in full force and consumer spending peaks, is the optimal time to try a pop-up shop. In fact, according to a PopUp Republic report, 61% of shoppers list seasonal products as the main reason to shop at pop-up shops over the holidays.
With more brands jumping on the pop-up bandwagon, it makes sense for online-only businesses to consider hosting their own holiday event sale. And here, we’ll run through some tips on how you can get started.
Reasons to Host a Holiday Pop-Up Shop
The concept of a pop-up shop is nothing new. Think back to when you were a kid and what your first experience of earning money may have been. Many of us might answer: setting up a lemonade stand, which is, in its most basic form, a type of pop-up shop. You set up a table, have very limited inventory, and once the sale is over, you close up shop, disassemble the table, and the lemonade stand is over.
According to PopUp Republic, the professional pop-up shop industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales. Pop-ups also appear just about everywhere — at farmers’ markets, shopping malls, within other retail businesses, and thanks to the success of food trucks, in motorized vehicles as well. Anywhere you can imagine selling your goods can likely be turned into a pop-up shop.
Image Credit: Native Merchant Services
Grow an Online Brand
After Cyber Monday sales are over, you may want to consider hosting a pop-up shop, especially if you run a primarily ecommerce business. Physical shops are a great way to add a human element to your brand and engage customers offline.
FURTHER READING: Not sure about offline sales for your ecommerce business? Here are 7 reasons you should consider in-person sales.
Many shoppers still want to see and touch items before they make purchases, and running a temporary offline store allows shoppers who may have been hesitant about purchasing online to test out and learn more about certain products.
Pop-up shops can also be an easy way to engage new customers who may not have come across your brand online.
Last-minute holiday shoppers are more likely to head to brick-and-mortar stores and the mall to pick up gifts rather than browse for products online. Having a pop-up shop also allow business owners to personally get to know their customers and build stronger relationships, which in turn, drive customer loyalty long after the pop-up and holiday season is over.
Test a New Revenue Stream
The great thing about running a pop-up shop is that there are minimal costs associated when compared to a permanent brick-and-mortar store. According to a Storefront article, the cost of setting up a pop-up shop is approximately 80% less expensive than a traditional physical retail outlet. This makes it easier and less of a financial risk to experiment with new revenue streams as well as introduce new products and experiences.
If you’re a new business just starting out, setting up a pop-up shop is a good way to get a taste of the retail industry and to see if your business idea is something you want to continue doing on a larger, more permanent basis. A pop-up offers a great way to get proof of concept for your products and ideas without the commitment of a full storefront.
And the holiday season is notoriously busy. You’ll encounter a diverse range of customers at a time of year when shoppers are most likely to purchase gifts and products they might not typically buy. That’s positive, as you’ll be able to get a varied sampling of shoppers to offer feedback on your products.
Perhaps the most enticing reason to consider a holiday pop-up shop is to increase sales. The temporary, get-it-before-it’s-gone state of pop-ups naturally creates a sense of urgency amongst shoppers.
To create this sense of urgency, let your customers know when your pop-up begins and ends. Or, perhaps a limited inventory means the pop-up shop closes once your items are sold out.
Having a pop-up shop around the holiday season increases shopper urgency even more since customers are aware of the exclusivity of seasonal products.
And to continue to make sales even after shoppers leave your pop-up, consider using a tool like Buy Online for Shopify POS. Buy Online offers shoppers who walk into your store a way to try your products in-person, and buy online at a later date — whenever they’re ready.
Reduce Seasonal Inventory
Pop-up shops can help shine a new light on old products. If you need to drive sales of seasonal or holiday inventory, especially before the end of the year, think about putting together a pop-up. Creating new displays and adding enticing visual merchandising elements can help attract different shoppers. Consider offering special deals, such as buy-one-get-one-free or bundling items together, to encourage impulse purchases.
How to Open a Pop-Up Shop
Now that we’ve discussed some of the reasons why you should consider a holiday-pop-up shop for your business, we’re going to offer some tips on how to create a successful pop-up shop.
Although there are only a few weeks left until Christmas, pop-up shops can be quick and easy to organize and can run for as long or as short as you choose. Here are some more things to keep in mind.
Image Credit: UK in Italy
Focus on What to Sell
Pop-up shops don’t have to be large. They can be as small as a single table or kiosk. With that in mind, it’s important to focus on selling a limited number of products, perhaps ones that fall into a certain theme, are seasonally appropriate, or that best represent your brand.
In a 2014 survey of 1,224 consumers by PopUp Republic, 39% of shoppers indicated unique services or products as the main reason why they visited a pop-up shop. Plus, as mentioned earlier, a whopping 61% of consumers named “finding seasonal products” as the top reason.
“Pop-up stores, temporary places of business, are ideally suited for holiday shopping because they often sell products tied to the season or feature distinctive gifts,” said Jeremy Baras, president of PopUp Republic. “That’s why pop-ups will pop up everywhere this month and next, whether they are holiday bazaars offering handmade crafts, Christmas tree lots, jewelry kiosks in malls or booths selling wine and cheese boxes.”
Another thing to consider when deciding what to sell at your pop-up shop is the cost of products. If you’re eager to reach the most customers and spread awareness about your brand — not to mention, clear out your seasonal inventory — choose products to sell at affordable price points that spark impulse buying. The idea here is to convert browsers into buyers, especially at a time when shoppers likely need to make multiple purchases while sticking to a holiday budget.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
Plan a pop-up shop the same way you would any business. This includes setting a budget and sticking to it. Some things you’ll want to keep in mind include the following:
- Cost of renting a space and utilities
- Furniture, including tables, chairs, and lighting
- Merchandising, such as tablecloths, signs, paint, and display stands
- Marketing and promotions
- Checkout including point of sales and credit card fees
- Insurance, depending on the size of your pop-up shop and how long it’s running
Where to Host a Pop-Up Shop
As we mentioned earlier, pop-up shops can appear just about anywhere. During the holiday season, be mindful of where you decide to set up your shop and how it will affect your business.
For example, it’s important to place your pop-up shop in an area with high pedestrian traffic. Unless you have a popular brand with an established following, most of your customers will likely encounter your shop because they happened to be in the area. If you’re hidden or set up in an area where people aren’t likely to be shopping and ready to spend their money, that will impact sales.
You can check out a few of the following sites to find potential pop-up venues:
- thisopenspace (North America)
- The Storefront (North America)
- We Are Pop Up (UK)
- Bulletin (US)
- B8ta (US)
Another tip is to consider partnering with another business selling complementary products. An Independent Retailer article noted shared spaces as a trend during the holiday season.
For instance, scented candle makers setting up a pop-up shop within a florist, or accessory designers popping up in clothing stores selling a similar aesthetic. According to the article, these shared venues not only help both parties reduce expenses but each business benefits from the other’s foot traffic.
For more tips and tricks on finding the perfect location for your pop-up shop, read our guide: “How to Pick the Perfect Location.”
Moving Forward With a Holiday Pop-Up Shop
Just like you did as a kid with the lemonade stand, have fun with your pop-up shop. It can be a great opportunity for experimentation if you already run an offline store, and a chance to bridge the gap and add a humanistic element if you own an ecommerce business. With the boost in shoppers and increased spending, the holiday season is an ideal time to try something new. So, what are you waiting for? Get popping!
About The Author
Michelle da Silva is a writer and editor. When she isn’t sitting behind a computer screen, she can be found biking around the city in search of Toronto’s best ice-cream.