For many small businesses shelling out for a retail space can often be a huge investment, particularly when you are still finding your way and testing the market for your brand.

A pop up shop could be the equivalent of dipping your toe in the water, effectively testing the appetite for your business among your customers. Ilona Taillade, Chief Marketing Officer, We Are Pop Up explains why the humble pop-up could be a good first step.

What is pop-up and how does it differ from a stall in a market or a stand in a shopping centre?

Starting a retail business? Here’s everything you need to know about pop up shopsWe classify pop-up space as any short-term, empty retail space. This can be anything from an empty shop on a high street, to an entire building, a gallery, a warehouse, or a quirkier space such as a boat or a disused bus depot. It’s also possible to book ‘ShopShare’ space, which is a concession space within an existing store.


What are pop-ups good for?

Think about a pop-up as an excellent way to test your business concept, build awareness of your brand and meet customers. We’ve worked with hundreds of designers who started out over a weekend or a few days and have grown to established, successful companies.

The beauty of a pop-up is that you can test different locations easily – don’t be afraid to experiment, and try something unusual or unexpected.


What tips do you have about choosing a space?

Starting a retail business? Here’s everything you need to know about pop up shopsChoose somewhere that complements your unique brand and your style. When you’re picking a space, look at what’s going on in the surrounding area – what brands are you near to, is the passing foot traffic the right demographic for you, does the culture fit your brand?

If you’re doing to a ShopShare, is there an exciting brand clash you can do that will draw attention to your story? Why not pop-up your floral prints in a florists or your menswear in a barber’s shop?


How do you make a pop-up work?

People pop-up for a number of reasons, so to make a pop-up work, really think about what success looks like you. Is it purely sales? Is it purely awareness of your brand? Is it educating customers about your product range? It could be any or all of these, but keep the aim in mind.

We like to encourage brands to use the ‘lean start-up methodology’ of measure, test, learn as you go along. We encourage our customers to not be afraid to experiment and take risks. Collaborate with like-minded brands to build your networks and tap into each-others’ customer base, and make use of all the incredible social media tools at your fingertips, to tell your current customers where you are, and to reach out to new ones.


Once you’ve tried it, what can you do next?

Again, this depends on what your original objectives were. Do you want to be a global brand? In which case why not plot a city-by-city pop up tour? Or do you want to be an ecommerce business, in which case plan for a few pop-ups in key locations at key seasonal moments (for example at a design/fashion/ craft week or Christmas). Or perhaps you’d like to plot a series of collaborations.


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