How to start a retail pop-up shop–and why you need one

Editorial Team

3 min read
Woman standing by clothes racks in a shop

Pop-up shops. You’ve seen them in malls, farmer’s markets, and even inside department stores. For savvy business owners, these flash retail spots offer a fresh, low-commitment way to test your ideas, introduce new products, and forge customer connections with your brand.

Whether you operate solely online or are considering a permanent store, your business can benefit from this face-to-face, Instagram-friendly trend. Plus, flash retail meshes seamlessly with Clover’s flexible payment processing solutions.

To help you get started, here are the basics of how to do a pop-up shop.

Why open a pop-up shop?

Flash retail requires far less commitment than launching a brick-and-mortar location. Your initial costs are smaller because you’re not locked into a long-term commercial lease. For payment processing, all you need is Wi-Fi or a cellular connection and a  mobile POS device, like a Clover Go or a Flex that can accept all types of payments including digital wallets, debit or credit cards, gift cards, and more.

Think of the pop-up shop as a self-contained “test kitchen” where you can:

  • Introduce a new product or concept
  • Demonstrate goods and services
  • Get instant in-person customer feedback
  • Promote your online business via social media

And, yes, pop-ups are also a convenient way to gather critical data and check out potential locations for a permanent store.

Where should I locate my pop-up shop?

Since they aren’t intended to be permanent, pop-ups can fit virtually anywhere. Take advantage of outdoor market stalls or unused storefronts inside an existing space. Position your shop to maximize visual interest and encourage casual visitors.

Some key considerations are:

  • Meeting customers where they already shop
  • Attracting plenty of foot traffic
  • Creating an experience that feels unique and personal
  • Encouraging photo ops and social media promotion

In today’s market, many commercial real estate providers are willing to offer flexible short-term leases to small business owners.

What should I offer in my pop-up shop?

Once you’ve found the location for your shop, decide which theme or approach works best. You might select products to offer based on holidays and activities or geared to a specific audience. When stocking your pop-up shop, remember that

  • Customers want shopping experiences that feel special and curated to their interests
  • Display and storage space is more limited than an online or permanent store
  • Pop-up retail is ideal for research if you’re test-launching a single product

How do I run my retail pop-up shop?

Like any retail store, your pop-up will only flourish if you’ve planned well. Before launch, these areas need close attention:

  • Staffing – What are your shop’s operating hours, and who will work there? What will you do if you can’t find staff to cover a shift? Can a QR code or signage help reroute disappointed customers to your website?
  • Inventory – You’ll likely encounter limitations on display and storage space with a retail pop-up shop. How do you plan to deal with shortages or restock items if you’re also operating the shop?
  • Marketing – Promote your pop-up shop via social media and your online presence. Loyalty and frequent buyer programs, redeemable coupons, QR codes, and freebies can help establish your brand as fun and on-trend while winning new customers.

Clover offers all the POS power and flexibility you need to get your pop-up shop accepting payments fast. Reach out to a Clover Business Consultant today to learn more.


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