Retailers across the country are devising ways to capitalize on the upcoming lucrative holiday season. One strategy that more small business are employing is opening temporary pop-up stores. During the holiday season, pop-ups have the potential to expand a retailer’s reach, and their business, during this heightened buying period.

Often used to test new business concepts, bring a digital brand offline, or generate positive word of mouth, pop-ups have become a $50 billion dollar industry, according to retail service provider PopUp Republic.

As with any retail endeavor, there’s no guarantee of success — and since pop-ups are temporary, making the most of the time you have is key. So how can retailers maximize the pop-up opportunity to create an effective temporary store and generate more holiday sales? Follow these five steps.

1. Create an appealing concept

To develop a successful holiday pop-up shop, you need a winning concept. Your goal should be twofold: demonstrate seasonal relevance and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Look for a hook that’s unique to your brand as a way to stand out. For local markets and gift shops, selling only edible or handmade gift items at their pop-up might make sense. Others may choose to showcase only their most popular products.

A couple enjoying coffee they purchased at a pop-up restaurant

Another approach is to focus on a specific holiday theme, like “winter wonderland,” where everything you sell is silver, white, or blue; or “The Nutcracker,” a versatile concept that allows bakeries and candy shops to create a land of sweets, or booksellers to do the same with featured recipe books. Think about how you can convey a seasonal mood with music, color, or holiday traditions. Miracle — a pop-up concept that started in New York in 2014 and has since expanded to dozens of restaurants around the world — offers holiday-themed drinks with a side of kitschy decor and “the nostalgic energy of the best office party you’ve ever been to.”

2. Consider a partner

Many pop-up concepts bring together multiple brands. This can help expand your reach by drawing in not only your target customers, but also a new audience attracted to your partner’s products and style. Look for non-competing local businesses that could be a fit for your concept. For example, if you specialize in children’s clothing, team up with a kids’ shoe store to make your pop-up a one-stop shop for winter formal wear.

3. Select the right location

When it comes time to choose a location, search for a place that’s densely populated, receives a large-amount of foot traffic, and attracts your target audience. A vacant storefront in a busy shopping district or your local mall are good options, as are event spaces and empty commercial lofts.

A woman holding a smartphone and shopping bags at an outdoor retail area

If you have a great location in mind but can’t find an available storefront, considering using a PODS container as the store itself. The Tampa Bay Lightning took this approach to sell limited edition gear during the NHL playoffs this year, using PODS containers as retail shops.

4. Keep inventory close at hand

Pop-up stores tend to drive spontaneous sales by attracting consumers who are just passing by, so it’s vital that you have all the products you need at the ready. There’s no time for inefficiencies like making multiple trips back to the warehouse when you run out of stock. Having a PODS container on hand is an ideal way to ensure a seamless pop-up experience. 

PODS storage container

When you’re a setting up a pop-up store you don’t have much room for storage. Unless you’re using a PODS container as the store itself, you’ll have to deal with transporting your products. Portable containers make it easy to set up and pack away your shop within a limited time frame while allowing you to restock merchandise on the spot.

5. Promote your pop-up online

Social media marketing can generate excitement and a sense of urgency about visiting your short-term shop, both through paid advertising and online word of mouth. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are particularly useful, as they allow you to tag your geographic location so consumers can find your store.

Offering a discount to social media users, perhaps with a code they bring to the shop, can help draw more customers. For added exposure, include a call to action that encourages users to share your message, and invest in paid promotion to boost your post. For more insight into how retailers can use PODS containers, take a look at our case studies.

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