7-Part Guide to Creating the Most Unbelievable Pop-Up Shop Ever

7-Part Guide to Creating the Most Unbelievable Pop-Up Shop Ever

Brick and mortar is here to stay!

If you’ve even been interested in opening up a pop-up, but don’t know where to start, keep reading as this 7-Part Guide to Creating the Most Unbelievable Pop-Up Shop Ever is here to help!

Part 1: Establish a Purpose

Understanding the overall focus or purpose of your pop-up is instrumental in establishing a cohesive strategy. Nail the big picture first, and then you can start to think about the details.

Generally, there are three major goals or purposes of a pop-up:

1) Additional Revenue

If you are an e-commerce business, experimenting with physical locations can be a low-cost mechanism to test new revenue streams and markets. If executed well, it could also be a way to increase profit.

If you already have a retail store a pop-up shop is a great way to test out a new location, new product, or customer market before actually opening a permanent space or launching the product or collection fully. It gives the brand the chance to make some money, get feedback and build excitement.

2) Engage with Existing Customers

Online brands can have difficulty building personal relationships with customers. Creating a physical space to interact with your customers is a great way to engage on the human level and develop personal relationships with your customers.

3) Brand Awareness

A pop-up is an amazing tool to provide new audiences with an unforgettable experience, turning them into lifelong brand ambassadors. Never underestimate the magic physical retail experiences can provide for a customer. 

Part 2: Create the Why.

Once you’ve established your overarching goal for opening your pop-up (is it additional revenue, to engage with customers or to strengthen brand awareness) the next step is to establish a clear vision.

To figure out the vision, write down your current reality—all the things that you don’t like about your current retail situation. Be honest. Now write down what you would like to see happen. Write it down in detail. If you can, use all five senses. Write it in the present tense, as though it has already happened.

We like to start this process by finding a word that will guide the pop-up experience - do you want your pop-up to evoke beauty, wonder, or awe? Ask yourself what and how you would describe the experience? Write out the details. Then ask yourself,  If you were to take a dare on your dream for this pop-up, what would it look like? Don’t be afraid to think big, this is where the magic is made when the vision is grand!

We like to evoke an emotional response from every individual that walks in, through or past the pop-up. And we know, it’s easy to get bogged down in details and logistical planning for your store, but without a deliberate and codified vision aka the plan for what you really want it will inevitably fall flat. So remember to develop words and language around your brand that are experience specific to this vision. This will eventually help the future employees become the best advocates for the brand that they can be.

Part 3: Location, Location, Location.

Location is everything. Depending on numerous factors (budget, length of stay, etc.) the location you decide for your pop-up will be instrumental in its success.

First, let’s examine the different types of options for pop-up locations and the pros and cons of each:

1) Shop in Shop

Ideal for companies looking to start their journey in retail, a shop in shop is a pop-up residency in an existing store’s space. Pop-ups located in existed shops come with numerous benefits, including; existing foot traffic, established clientele, and offset rent costs. While it is ideal in many ways, shop in shops aren’t bulletproof. Finding a store to compliment your brand and vision can be difficult, and often you are at the behest of the existing stores hours, employees, and marketing efforts.


  • Existing foot-traffic

  • Established clientele

  • Offset rental costs

  • Leveraged marketing and co-branding


  • Less autonomy over store merchandising and vision

  • Finding a store to compliment your brand's vision can be extremely difficult

  • Existing employee dynamics and structure

  • Limited space

2) Shopping Center/ Mall

While many are clambering about the death of traditional retail, malls are always looking for ways to innovate and pop-ups tend to be a great exercise for malls looking to spice it up. Similar to a shop in shop, this might be a great option if you are looking to get your brand up and running, and are in need of existing foot traffic to pull people into your space. However, you might be limited in terms of the amount of space and creative control you are given license to.


  • Existing foot traffic

  • Leveraged marketing and co-branding


  • Limited creative control

  • A generalized audience

Vacant Retail Space

For those looking for full autonomy, renting out a temporary space can be a massive asset for your brand. For companies with larger budgets and teams, this can be an ideal scenario to get your brand off the ground.


  • Complete control over every aspect of your merchandising, employees, marketing and store vision


  • Developing a stream of foot traffic

  • High cost


More mobile than traditional methods, airstreams are proving to be a force to be reckoned with within the pop-up world. Ideal for testing new markets, airstreams provide a fresh experience for customers.


  • Mobile

  • Autonomy of store merchandising and vision


  • Limited space

  • High fixed costs

  • Permits to park

Part 4: Catching the Customer's Eye.

Once you’ve decided on a location, your next task will be building out the external and internal profiles of your pop-up. Think about how your space will translate digitally.  Create two instagrammable moments in the layout/design of the space to leave a “digital mark”. Your space might be temporary, but images of your pop-up will exist forever in the digital world.

One of our favorite examples of an eye-catching pop-up was the Stay pop-up at Platform LA. 

Part 5: Find the Right Employees.

As you explore the magic behind what will make your pop-up special, it's important to think about the harmony between your vision and the employees who will inhabit that space. Your employees should be an extension of the story you’d like to tell with your space. Explore what you like and dislike about previous retail experiences - do you prefer employees that are more hands on or hands off with customers? Do you want employees that are more reserved or customer-focused? Highly specialized or jack of all trades?

Part 6: Keeping your Team Motivated.

Your sales team will be your best friend when it comes to making your pop-up successful. Creating clear goals and structures for your team will be vital to your pop-up performance. The people will make your pop-up special, make sure you do all you can to retain the best talent. Here are a few things you should consider creating for your team:

-Discount Structure
-Store sales goals/ individual sales goals
-Regular team meetings
-Opening/Closing Checklists
-Daily recaps/ evaluations
-Clear line of command
-Customer service protocols
-Open communication protocol

Part 7: Evaluating Success

Depending on the goal of your pop-up, success will be evaluated differently.  

Was your goal brand awareness? If so, have you been monitoring daily foot traffic and social mentions on your digital profiles?

Was your goal increased revenue? Did you create proper reporting metrics to evaluate sales per customer, sales per employee, sales per product?

Was your goal to engage with existing customers? Did you develop a proper protocol to have employees relay vital customer information to you on a daily basis?

At the end of the day, it will be the impalpable aspects of your pop-up that will determine its success. Brands who are able to listen, adapt, and innovate will find success in creating what we call “Retail Magic.”