The complete guide on how to start your own pop-up shop

February 17, 2022

These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t shop online. Ecommerce sales continue to rise year on year, and this growth has been accelerated by Covid-19.

Yet, lots of research suggests that customers still prefer in-store shopping to making purchases online. Google found that 61% of customers would rather shop with companies that have a brick and mortar store as opposed to pure ecommerce businesses.

Quick returns, no delivery fees and the ability to try on items are just some of the factors that drive customers to stores.

If you’re looking to make your first foray into the retail world, now is the perfect time. With commercial rents a lot lower than what they were pre-pandemic, you can save money on your biggest overhead.

A pop-up shop is simply a short-term retail store and is the perfect solution for startups or established brands that want to test markets and connect with customers.

This guide will provide you with a comprehensive plan to ensure that you have all the ingredients for a successful pop-up shop.

Table of contents

  1. Work out your budget
  2. Work out your goals
  3. Locate your perfect spot
  4. Decorate your store
  5. Market your store
  6. Evaluate your store

Why start a pop-up shop?

Lower risk

You can open a pop-up shop for 1 day or 6 months. Whether you want to test a new location or build brand awareness, you can do it at a much lower cost than if you entered a space permanently.

Lower costs

Pop-up shop spaces are significantly cheaper than permanent stores. If you don’t have much money to work with, you could even share a shop for a week for less than £100. With a pop-up shop you can create an experience that is tailored to your budget.

Create brand awareness

With a retail location, you put yourself in front of hundreds or thousands of people who may have never heard of your brand. If you’re still developing business, with a pop-up event you have a base to kick start your marketing.

Test markets

Whether you want to test a new location or new product, you can do so easily with a pop-up store. You can speak to customers directly, gauge their reactions and get all the information you need to make the right business decision.

Make money

Most important of all is that you can sell products. If you wish to unload old stock or introduce exciting new product lines, you have the platform with which you can increase your revenue.

Once you’re ready to create your pop-up shop location, the next step is to formulate a plan for success. This guide will walk you through everything you need to do.

1) Work out your budget

The first thing you need to do is work out how much money you want to spend. Pop-up shops come in all different shapes and sizes, so naturally the costs will vary significantly on what kind of experience you want to create.

The last thing you want to do is run out of money in the middle of your shop run. So plan ahead by calculating all the essentials that you will need for your pop-up shop.


The most important cost you will need to calculate is the location of your pop-up shop. If you’re taking over a shop in Central London, you might need to pay £1000 a day. If you’re opening a store in South London you may only pay £100 a day.

What you need to pay will all depend on the venue and location you go for. The right one for your business will all depend on the customers you want to attract and what you want to achieve.


Your second biggest overhead will be your staffing. If you’re the only one working the shop, then you’ll need to think about the hours you can put in, especially if you are juggling a full-time job.

If you have friends and family who can help out, this will help you to keep costs down. Otherwise you will need to calculate the costs of hiring professional staff when you’re not available to oversee it.

Insurance and licences

Different venues will have different rules governing their spaces. Some rents may include business insurance whilst others won’t, so you should check with the venue when you make your enquiries.

You can’t do whatever you like once you have your space. If you’re planning on holding any late-night events or serving alcohol you will need a licence. Check with the landlord and factor in the costs of new policies and licences you need to get.

Renovations and furnishings

If you wish to create a great impression and attract passing customers into your store, it’s important that your interior is memorable. All of this will, of course, add a significant amount to your outgoings.

You may not have a big budget, but you will need to customise your space to reflect your brand and business. Whatever look you go for, you will need to factor in renovations to your calculations.

Payment processing

Another important question you will need to consider is your payment processing. Only taking cash will frustrate your customers and add complications to your operations. Make sure you process transactions quickly by getting your own card terminal.

There are a number of card terminals on the market, most of which need specialist hardware. Our solution is hardware-free and will allow you to process transactions on your phone. All you need to do is download the app and/or get in touch.

Our payment solution is perfect for pop-up businesses because you pay just a flat 1.49% fee for every transaction processed. There are no monthly costs to pay even if you use it sporadically. The lack of hardware also means that you can get started in no time at all.

Our app also allows customers to pay through QR codes. So you can streamline your checkout process by allowing customers to make card payments themselves. This will help you cut your staffing costs.


Are you working with influencers for the launch of your pop-up shop? Or will you be providing entertainment? These are just a few of the questions you should think about when planning your pop-up shop.

The opening of your store should be a big event and you don’t want to rely on passing footfall for customers. If you advertise or sponsor events, it is another cost that you will need to add to your list.

2) Work out your goals

Establishing your goals will help you identify whether your pop-up shop was a success or not. With this information you will be able to know whether to launch another shop or if you should regroup and alter your business plan.

You may simply want to sell more products. Or perhaps you want to find out if a potential business idea of yours is worth launching. You may want to simply generate more leads. Once you have targets, you can plan accordingly.

3) Locate your perfect spot

Location is paramount. You can’t expect your store to be a success if the environment doesn’t align with what your store needs. There are a number of possible venues all offering different opportunities for your brand.

Pick a venue

Shared shops

The cheapest retail space you can take advantage of is a shared shop. There are a number of stores which have spaces for new brands. Prices are very cheap but you will be restricted with what you can do with the space.

Shopping centre booths

Shopping centres always have spaces for kiosks and booths. You will need to ensure that the shopping centre has the right kind of footfall for your brand. If it does align with your brand, you will be able to reach thousands of people with a strong intention to make purchases.

Pop-up communities

There are pop-up malls like Pop Brixton and BOXPARK which are dedicated to showcasing independent brands. You will be situated in a prime location amongst other exciting entrepreneurs, small businesses and pop-up spaces with access to thousands of keen shoppers.

Empty shops

If you would like to make a real statement you can hire an empty shop. There are a number of shop directories (like Storefront and Appear Here) with empty shops up and down the country. All you need to do is find the right one for your business.

Mobile pop-ups

There’s no need to restrict yourself to one place if you want your own retail space. Whether you use a trailer or a truck, you can take your brand to events up and down the country with a mobile store.

Once you have decided what kind of venue is best, the next step is to find your location.

Find your location

There are a number of commercial directories with a diverse range of available spaces. You just need to learn about the local area and its footfall.


Naturally, you need to be where customers expect you to be. So if you sell luxury items you can’t pick an edgy or grungy high street. Your budget plays a big part in where you can go, but get a feel for potential areas by walking around and examining the local shops.


Footfall is a crucial indicator of whether your store will be a success. The landlord should be able to give you an indicator of how much traffic you can expect. If they don’t know, simply visit stores in the area and speak to business owners as they should have a good idea.

Negotiate with your landlord

When you have found that perfect space, some of the questions you can ask the landlord include:

  • What’s included in the rent?
  • Are there any other charges to pay?
  • What can be modified/altered?
  • What licences or permits are required?
  • What is the expected footfall?

When you have all the information you need, negotiate with the landlord. Commercial rents aren’t what they used to be. Real estate isn't what it used to be and landlords have more empty spaces on their hands which means prices are relatively low.

If you are renting a space that needs a bit of love, ask your landlord to give you a free week while you get it up to scratch. If not, you can always ask them to pay a utility cost for you. It is always worth negotiating on the rent itself, especially if you are renting a long-term lease.

4) Decorate your store

Once you have agreed to take over a store, the next stage is to renovate it. You have the freedom to be inventive when you have a temporary pop-up store.

The Brothers Suitcase Store targets businessmen who often travelled for work, so they styled their pop-up shop into a huge suitcase with suits and accessories inside.

Adidas celebrated one of their iconic shoes by turning a pop-up shop into an oversized shoebox in London.

Whilst coffee brand illy turned a rusty shipping container into a beautiful pop-up shop that opened up at the touch of a button.

However you renovate your shop, it’s essential that your signage, interiors and window displays are exciting, inventive and match the tone of your brand.

If you are working with a restricted budget, there are many ways you can save on costs while still creating the environment your business needs.

5) Market your store

You can’t expect to rely on passing foot traffic to keep the sales flowing. Build buzz ahead of time by planning a marketing strategy for before, during and after.

Before launch

  • Approach and connect with influencers in your niche. Make a valuable offer by offering them a cut of any products sold through them.
  • Work with brands and businesses that target the same customers as you. Offer to advertise their products in return for them doing the same.
  • Email news sites and bloggers in your field and invite them to the launch of your store.
  • Run email marketing campaigns so that all of your customers know about your soon to be opening pop-up shop.

During launch

  • Encourage customers to promote your shop by creating a special area in your store for photos and video selfies. Give them discounts so that they post on their social media.
  • Continue working with local brands in the area by cross-promoting brands and businesses in similar verticals.
  • Regularly post on social media and countdown the days left your store has to run so no customers miss visiting it.

After launch

  • Hopefully, you have the personal information of all your new customers that have visited your store. You can use this for future marketing materials.
  • Get feedback from all of your customers. You can get an idea of what you did right and what you got wrong, which you can use for future pop-up shops.

6) Evaluate your store

When your tenancy is over you can begin to examine how your pop-up shore performed. There are a number of metrics you can look at.

Product sales

Naturally, it is important to look at which products sold the most. With this information, you can make better decisions on which products to invest in for the future.

Foot traffic

There are a number of tools on the market that can analyse the customers that enter your store. Install one of these at the launch of your store and you will be able to identify if the store is effective at acquiring new customers and conversions.

Seasonal sales

If your shop was open for a prolonged period of time. You can identify trends and popular times which will help you to plan for future pop-up stores.

Your overall goals

If the goal of your shop was brand exposure, do you have more online sales and social media subscribers? Or if it was to test a new product, do you have what you need to make the right decision?

Whatever your long-term goals were, by opening your own retail store and engaging with customers you will have a better understanding of where your business is at and where it is headed.

By making plans and developing a framework for success, you will ensure that your pop-up shop adds real value to your business.

Are you a business looking to create your own pop-up experience? If you are looking for a cost-effective payment processor that is low-cost and easy to set up, get in touch with our sales team to find out about using Pomelo Pay.