What Makes a Great Pop-Up Store?

People tell their friends just to prove they’re in the know. Instagrammers hit the share button as soon as they see it. That pop-up – the one with the buzz.

You’ve seen them.

People tell their friends just to prove they’re in the know. Instagrammers hit the share button as soon as they see it. Your friends travel across town just to get a glimpse. That pop-up – the one with the buzz.

Do they do something special on social media? On their website? Is their effortlessness genuine, or is it some brilliant tactic?

Strategy > Secrets

We’re here to tell you there are few secrets of a good pop-up. Power colors, product walls as social media photo opportunities, or an on-brand scent are all great tactics. But that’s just it – they’re tactics. Not secrets. The day-to-day small tips are up to you. Tips, effective or ineffective, are dependent on the pop-up strategy you have in mind.

So what is a pop-up strategy? What should a pop-up strategy do? A pop-up strategy is an all-encompassing guide to utilize your time and money as effectively as possible. Think of strategy as the script to your movie.

What tactics – tech solutions, inventory, design – are just the set or actors’ delivery. Without a great script, it doesn’t matter if Idris Elba gives the performance of a lifetime in a perfect period representation (expect for the fact I would probably watch it). The strategy is the writing and direction that makes sure the movie has an opportunity to succeed in the first place.

Amazing pop-ups don’t just execute well, they strategize well too. And to have a great strategy, you have to know your goals.

How to Select Goals for Your Pop-up

To make a route, you have to know where you’re going. If your pop-up gets great traffic, sales, or buzz, but doesn’t move your business forward, what’s the point? Understanding exactly how your pop-up goals fit into your larger business goals is essential  here. You need to determine what you want to accomplish with a pop-up.

Before you yell “sales” or “buzz,” think about how exactly a pop-up could influence your business goals. Do you need $25k in sales to finish out the quarter? Do you want to educate shoppers on new pieces? Do you want to convert current customers to brand evangelists? All of these business needs should tie into what kind of pop-up you create.

For example, if your business goal is to:

  • Increase short-term revenue. To increase short term revenue, set your pop-up goals to maintain a certain sales or profit goal per week.
  • Boost the buzz of your brand. Your goals for your pop-up in this case might be the amount of people that enter your store, meaningful in-store interactions, and social shares about your pop-up.
  • Build a community of evangelists. To create more evangelists, you should engage your current customers. Your pop-up goals could be number of repeat purchases, number of experiences offered (personal fittings, style tips, etc.), or number of customers that offered their personal contact information.

You don’t want vague goals like, “build buzz for our brand,” “increase sales,” or “talk to our customers.” It will be impossible to know if you’re successful or if you need to make tweaks.

Your pop-up goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely).

Here are a few examples:

  • Throughout the next three months of my pop-up, drive 500 Twitter mentions of my brand with an average Klout score of 45.
  • Bring in $20k of new sales from my pop-up and drive an additional $15k of online sales  over the next two months.
  • Offer 150 personal fittings and capture 300 pieces of contact information over the weekend at the event.

Once you understand what you want to accomplish, it’s time to create a game plan.

Build a Strategy Around Your Goals

When deciding how to meet your goals, think like a journalist and answer the three main questions: What, Where, and Why.


What type of pop-up would make my goals possible? What kinds of employees should work in this store? What kind of layout suits my goals best?

For example if you want to build repeat purchases, you could offer in-store experiences for customers to use purchased items. You then might hire employees comfortable building relationships so they could engage these current customers more personally. Finally, you could create a store layout that presents an array of complementary items to your core product.


Where could I afford a space that will fit my needs? Where is there adequate foot traffic? Where could I place a store that fits my brand’s image and goal?

For example, you might think of your brand as authentic grunge, but if your goal is quarterly sales, you might want a more upscale neighborhood with higher foot traffic. If your goal is to create personalized 1-1 experiences, it might make sense to find an area with less foot traffic and crowds.


Why would someone come to my pop-up? Why would someone decide to engage once they’re inside the store? Why would they be driven back to purchase in the future?

“Why” requires the most knowledge about your brand and audience and is therefore the most challenging question to answer. When deciding upon a strategy to pursue, it’s best to use Why questions at the very beginning and end of creating a strategy.

To build brand evangelists, you have to determine what steps in-store associates can take to engage customers and convert them again. To bring in more sales, you need to determine which channels are most effective at closing sales.

Write it Out

After you have a general idea of your What, Where and Why, write out a strategy document for your popup. This document should break down the pop-up’s goals and exactly when and how they should be met with timelines, definitions, visions, and budgets.

The document doesn’t need to include day-to-day decisions – those can be left for people in the trenches. Instead, it should be your guiding light for day-to-day decisions in the future.

It doesn’t have to be incredibly fancy or intricate – it just needs to be understood across the organization and maintain consistent throughout your pop-up.

Execution is Key

Creating goals and a strategy is half the battle. The other half, just as important, is executing efficiently.

You’ll need to make design decisions, choose inventory, train associates to interact with clients, and much else. However, after a guiding strategy and goals, these decisions should feel much smoother and more straightforward.