How to Create A Pop Up Shop That Drives Sales

Fresh off our project with Fotofoam, we want to share with you a few tips for making your pop-up shop what it should be: a revenue driver for your business.

It’s amazing to watch a new startup execute their product launch flawlessly.

In our industry, a “product launch” most often means launching a web or mobile application (which alone is a monumental feat). But our client, just launched an application and a physical pop-up shop in the West Village, NYC!

Both the app and physical popup launched within a month, and both went out flawlessly.

Why Pop-Up Shops Make Money

Pop-up Shops have been said to be “the food trucks of retail” due to their sudden and “fleeting” nature. Like a food truck, popups spring up at locations with little to no notice and customers find themselves discovering an unexpected, enjoyable brand experience.

With a pop-up store you have the opportunity to create a space where your customer can escape and be secluded from the “normal” shopping experience. Inside this special place, you have an opportunity to interact with your customer – visually, with audio, a special tactile experience or a combination of all – to really capture their attention.

Therefore, your goal is to leave your customers talking about your popup weeks – months – after their visit. Their overall experience will provide them with a good memory and you with a channel to capitalize on their increased customer loyalty, ultimately putting more dollars in your pocket.

Here’s a few ideas we have on achieving a memorable pop-up shop experience:

1. Integrate Your Interactive Digital Experience

Our client, Fotofoam, launched their online shop with an interactive “gallery-quality” print and frame builder that allows a user to upload their own artwork and create a custom framed print. The tool visually walks the user through each step and displays a digital rendering of the frame as you customize (it’s pretty cool if we do say so ourselves).

A video posted by FOTOFOAM (@fotofoam) on

At their pop-up shop location, the Fotofoam team had a thorough launch strategy in place.

They set up three Mac desktop computers and had Fotofoam reps walk visitors through the digital framing process, allowing visitors to both touch and feel the real products in the shop, as well as create their own custom items in the store. Having the web application physically present on the Macs in the gallery where visitors were surrounded with actual framed prints, the Fotofoam digital experience was easier to grasp and visualize.

This first-person impression of the artwork, present with the Fotofoam digital experience, prompted users to interact and build their own ideas in-store.

Another example of integrating an interactive experience comes from popular men’s retailer, Frank & Oak. F&O have quite possibly perfected the use of iPads in their pop-up shops, capturing sales and eliminating inventory on the spot. By placing iPads throughout their popups, Frank & Oak has enabled customers to shop the items on display and have them shipped directly to their address.

frank&oak ipad display popup
Image courtesy of susuum

Easy for the customer. Easy for the retailer.

By nature, popups are usually smaller than a typical physical location store. There’s no space to store much inventory. This was true for F&O’s popups, so they decided to think smarter. By integrating iPads throughout their spaces, Frank and Oak eliminated the need to have all the items on display “in stock” and also ensured that they would never run out of an item. Enabling ordering via iPad not only engages your customer in the popup space, but it’s a simple way to increase sales in an otherwise “cramped” inventory space.

2. Let Your Fans Customize Their Products

You treasure those Nike Air Max’s you customized online with NikeID. And, if you have actually customized a pair of Nikes, our guess is you’re a fan and probably have interacted with Nike several times in the past month, either online or sporting Nike gear while you’re out and about.

A Bain survey of more than 1,000 shoppers found that customers that have customized a product engaged more with the company and are more loyal to the brand. Read the Forbes article here.

Bringing this idea to a popup couldn’t be better planned. Coupling the value and attachment a customer places on a customized product with the sensory overload of a pop-up shop, your brand can provide the memorable experienced we’re focused on and generate sales. Win – win!

Jewelry company, BaubleBar, fumbled their first pop up shop attempt – only selling ONE piece of customized product. It wasn’t until after the team consulted with a digital development firm, they realized that the visitors to their popup were missing a visual element when it came to customized jewelry. They wanted to see it. It’s hard for a customer to know whether their initials or name would look good in a certain font or style of necklace.

Bring in the iPads!

BaubleBar implements iPads
Image courtesy of Gin Lane Media

After implementing iPads in their pop-up shops, BaubleBar built a monogram kiosk which allowed shoppers to choose various options like custom initials, finishes, and scripts. BaubleBar has seen an increase in overall customer engagement and in customized product sales.

3. Encourage Social Interaction

You’ve been inundated with social media advice for your company, we’re sure. So, let’s trim the fat and focus on a the social medium that gets the most interaction: photos.

At the time of writing this post, Instagram reports to have 150 million active monthly users. Imagine getting your brand or products in front of just a fraction of those active users. And, what better venue than your memorable pop-up shop experience?

Here’s an example:

The Bosco Photobooth Popup
Image courtesy of The Bosco

A smart collaboration between Etsy and West Elm yielded a successful brand experience by allowing the popular home decor retailer to feature items by local Etsy artists. They worked with The Bosco in their popup, and created a space allowing customers to take photos with fun props in front of a branded background.

Integrating a photo element to your pop-up experience:

  • encourages interaction with your customer
  • provides a branded takeaway from the event (you know people love to share and show off photos!)
  • creates a fun and lasting memory for your customer of your pop-up event

Another social technique that is relatively “new” to the social media scene could help your popup be memorable, but also more profitable: social currency.

Using social as currency made some buzz at 2014’s New York Fashion Week, and has since become adopted by pop-up shops and even pop-up restaurants as a means to encourage social interaction with your customers or fans.

Fashion label Marc Jacobs fully embraced this concept at NYFW by offering a small bottle of Daisy perfume in exchange for the customer showing a photo with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain.

Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop
Image courtesy of brandchannel

The label named their Fashion Week popup the Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop – a space where you pay only with social currency. This seems like a risky move, right? As no actual money is being exchanged.

Dane Atkinson, CEO of SumAll, a NY startup that does marketing analytics, said that after analyzing data from around 30,0000 companies and connecting tweets to web traffic and sales, his team found that each time a customer tweets, it brings the company around $20! That can add up quickly, depending on your amount of visitors and their use of social currency.

4. Make The Experience Memorable

Image courtesy of Travelling Dave

It might sound cheesy, but at the end of the day make sure to have fun! Do something you’ve never done. Or, embrace a new technology to bring the value of your already-existing web or mobile experience to life, just like Fotofoam.

Pop-up shops are specially crafted and curated spaces into which people escape from the normal, dull shopping experience into one that is sensory, entertaining, colorful and new. They make customers feel like the brand is actually trying to create something just for them. It becomes more personal and less generic.

Remember: people love being treated like people.

Like What You Read?

If you liked this article, then sign up for our newsletter below! We’ll be sending out more articles on how to optimize and grow your ecommerce business.

Get real conversion rate winners in your inbox

Every Wednesday, we email you 1 proven strategy to boost conversion rates and site revenue. Based on real A/B test results from 8 and 9-figure brands.

We do the research, testing and analysis so you can stay ahead of the competition.

Read by thousands of brands including: