Are Pop-Up Shops Worth It For Your E-commerce Store?


E-commerce has become the most popular method for brands to sell to consumers, but physical storefronts still have their advantages: personalized service, ability to touch and try the product, and the in-store experience.


Regardless, most e-commerce brands aren’t rushing to open up their own physical storefronts. They see traction with online and social media shops, which is where the majority of even traditional retail business is moving.


However, some innovative e-commerce businesses have started implementing the pop-up shop model—often to great success. Pop-up shops allow online businesses to come into the real world to increase visibility, generate buzz, and bring their brand to life.


So what is a pop-up shop, how do you start planning for one, and are they really worth it?


Chaywa coffee pop up shop


What is It?

Pop-up shops are temporary retail events. An online brand moves into a physical space for a short timeframe, anywhere from a day to a few weeks. This can be a place to sell goods, or they can focus on creating an event or experience.


There are a few goals of a pop-up shop:

  • Increase brand awareness, excitement, and engagement in a local area

  • Get traction on social media by hosting and promoting unique events

  • Increase user-generated content with visitors taking pictures and posting about the pop-up

  • Create a branded experience in-person for customers

  • Gain a competitive advantage over other e-commerce businesses

  • Establish a sense of urgency with purchasing


Pop-up shops have one major objective that’s critical for online businesses: they transform a brand’s presence. They make a business more tangible and personal for the consumer. If you’ve never experienced a brand in person, you can have an idea based on their voice, visuals, and products—but it’s different when you’re living the lifestyle in-store or at an event. Pop-up shops allow brands to move from being an “idea” of the digital sphere to a tangible brand offering a product. It’s always about building social proof and establishing trust.


How do you create a pop-up shop?

What does the pop-up shop process look like if you’re an e-commerce store considering this marketing trend?


1. Know your Goals.

Why are you having a pop-up shop? What do you hope to gain from it? Is the primary goal to generate awareness about your brand? to increase interest in a specific geographic area? to get seen on social media? to make more sales?


Your goals will determine how you run your pop-up shop. For example, if you’re looking just to generate buzz, you may not need a physical space at all. You might instead decide to host an event at a partner’s store. But if you’re looking to make sales and create an experience, you’ll need a semi-permanent structure that will hold more products.


2. Know your Time and Space.

Where and when are you going to host the pop-up? Think about your audience and goals. Where is your target audience hanging out? What cities, what shopping centers, and what streets are they walking most frequently? Where will you get passersby that will check out your pop-up?


You can advertise your pop-up shop, but these usually see the most traffic simply from pedestrians walking by. So try to set up shop in close proximity to where your audience is hanging out—and pick a good time of year that people are going to be outside.


Make sure you do demographic research to make sure you’re targeting the right audience for your goals.


"Pop-up shops allow brands to move from being an “idea” of the digital sphere  to a tangible brand offering a product."  -Click to Tweet-


3. Create an Event.

The pop-up shop itself is an event. But it may not draw much of a crowd, especially if you are a small online business hoping to gain brand awareness with this shop. So, in most cases, you want to host an event or two to generate buzz around your store.


Brainstorm some fun pop-up shop events with your team to find one that will work with your brand, your audience, the location, and the budget. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Partner with a nearby business to host a class in-store (or out front), like a yoga or painting class

  • Take advantage of special holidays during your pop-up shop, even if they’re goofy like “national chocolate day”

  • Bring in an influencer or special guest to host an event, like an author reading or chef cooking class

  • Have a local businesses demo and show off your products

  • Build an Instagram-ready aesthetic that encourages people to take and post pictures on social media


A great way to get people to know about your pop-up shop is to simply send invitations. You can do this both online and in the mail to add a special touch. You may even want to attach a gift or sample product to get people excited. Send it out to your followers, influencers, local press, and nearby businesses to get people excited.


4. Get Hands on Deck.

Your employees are used to working within the online sphere—and some of them may even work remotely. So you may need to look into hiring part-time help to sell your products or generate buzz about your brand during the pop-up shop.


The best way to do this is to look into brand ambassadors. These individuals get paid by the event, and they will follow your brand voice and guidelines as instructed.


This is actually where a lot of pop-up shops go wrong. You need faces of your brand representing your shop, and this can take a lot of time hiring, training, and scheduling in order to get it right. Don’t skimp on this part of the process.


Woman packs shoes in the box


5. Have a Social Campaign.

You want people to know about your pop-up shop. A social campaign can encourage locals to stop by, and it can engage customers further away who are looking to learn more about your brand. A pop-up shop makes your brand more tangible, which can make your social media more real and authentic in tandem.


Get creative with it! Use a special design on your webpage that promotes your shop. Write blogs, articles, and press releases. Send out email blasts. Share live stories and behind the scenes pictures. Make the pop-up shop feel real, even if you’re watching it unfold through the digital sphere.


Most importantly, make it interactive. You want to be able to link the physical storefront with the digital e-commerce world. Have a gorgeous wall where people can take pictures. Use a specific hashtag for your brand or pop-up. You could even have clues on your social media that can lead people to find and unlock in-store discounts. Get creative with it!


A pop-up shop should be considered as an integral part of a social campaign. It’s not just a storefront. It’s a way to bring your online brand to the people.


Check out these 12 most talked about pop-up stores you can learn from with The Storefront Magazine.


Is it Worth It?

Pop-up shops help you create a hybrid omnichannel business model without the expense of a physical storefront. Still, it’s not an inexpensive marketing strategy. You’ll have to pay for all the overhead that comes with a pop-up shop, possibly including more hands on deck, complicated operations, and higher marketing expenditures.


Only you can decide if a pop-up shop is worth it. Crunch the numbers, consider your goals realistically, and see if it fits into your marketing budget.


The majority of e-commerce businesses who try out a pop-up shop end up seeing great success—and hosting more pop-up events in the future. The way to ensure success is by treating it as a major marketing campaign that’s both in store and online. The goal is to create a cohesive, streamlined experience with your brand.


Pop-ups are a great way to get your brand name out there, connect with your in-person audience, create more content for social media, and make your brand a reality. But they only work if you put in the work. They have to be part of a larger campaign that involves a lot of moving parts.


Get your campaign underway with Seller’s Choice. Contact us to start building a strategy and digital plan for your e-commerce store to “pop-up” in person.

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