Using a pop-up store to test your business 

Launching your product can be scary, no matter how much market research and R&D you’ve done. 

Selling at a pop-up location is a great way of testing your product idea before committing to a hard launch. According to EE, the pop-up retail sector in the UK is booming, racking up £2.1 billion in turnover last year alone. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about why a pop-up store might be a good idea for your startup. We’ll cover the top tips and tricks to help you prepare for your first ever pop-up and make it a success. 

What is a pop-up store?

A pop-up store is a type of retail store that opens for a limited amount of time. Typically, locations for a pop-up store could be an empty retail space, an existing physical store or a local market. They can also take the form of virtual, online pop-up experiences. 

Why is a pop-up store a good idea for a startup?

Here’s a few reasons why testing the waters with a pop-up store is a great option for a startup:

1. Lower commitment 

Selling at a pop-up is a comparatively low-risk opportunity. A shorter lease and more flexible terms will allow you to trial a physical location without any scary – and expensive – long-term commitments. It’s also a great opportunity to experience owning a retail space and get a better understanding of what you might need to learn or put in place before opening anywhere permanently.

2. Increase your brand exposure 

Selling your products in a high-profile location will increase your visibility to new customers – and potentially, even investors. Placing yourself in a high-traffic area will also help to generate sales. 

3. Build relationships with customers and gather feedback 

Setting up at a pop-up location will give you a chance to chat to people and get their feedback on your products. You could offer incentives to people who buy from you to send their feedback, and use all this knowledge to improve your offering.

Here’s some insight on how you can develop your product using community feedback:


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4. Launch or test new products 

If you’re already an established brand with products people love, a pop-up is a great way to try something new you’ve been working on. Chances are, some of your customers will come along, and you can get their opinion on how the new offering matches up to your existing range.

Here’s a few other ways you can test your side hustle idea:


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Getting ready for your first pop up 

Preparing for a pop-up event can be daunting, and if you’ve got minimal retail experience, it might be a little confusing too. We’ve put together a handy list to help you make your first pop-up go smoothly.

1.Go in with a plan 

Consider how your space will look and how it will run to give customers an enjoyable experience and keep it stress-free for you. Here’s some things to consider:

  • How you will display your products and decorate the space to entice potential customers to stop and have a look at your products
  • How you will lay the space out to give customers and yourself plenty of room to move around and look at products freely
  • Having infrastructure to take payments for your products. Cash-only may be more convenient for you, but many people no longer carry cash, so offering card payments removes the risk of losing sales – you’ll need a stable internet connection and a card reader for this

2. Set up some samples

Give customers the chance to try before they buy, so they know what they’re getting and will be more likely to commit to buying the full product. 

3. Make purchasing your product memorable

Making the process memorable will leave a long-lasting impression on your customers. Consider investing in branded merchandise or even including a freebie in the purchase. 

4. Advertise your pop up 

You’ll need to let people know your pop-up is happening. Dedicate time to coming up with a good marketing strategy to make some commotion, and reward those who come along. 

5. Define what success will look like

There’s no point going into a pop-up not knowing what you want it to achieve. Set some SMART goals, and evaluate your performance against them once the event is done. You’ll gather valuable insight to shape your business going forward.

Not sure how to set SMART goals? Check out our article A guide to setting goals and time management tips for your startup.

Your chance to sell at a pop up, stress free 

Enter our competition with our friends at Tide to sell your products at a pop-up event!

Tide is on a mission to alleviate the struggles of small businesses by providing a simple banking platform, ranging from bank accounts, loans and various tools to give you everything you need to successfully run a business.

They’ve quickly become one of the UK’s fastest-growing fintechs with over 10% of SMEs choosing them as of 2023.

Why should you apply?

You’ll have the chance to sell your products at one of Tide’s pop-up locations, and they’ll set you up with a free card reader worth over £80 to make your selling experience as smooth as possible. 

The winners will also benefit from advice and mentoring from small business experts, and receive a £5,000 cash injection, too. 

Find full competition details here.

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Karina Kundzina
Karina is the Content and Marketing Assistant at Inkwell, the company behind The Pitch.

Pop up with Tide for a chance to win £5k!

If you’re the founder of a retail startup or product-based business looking for ways to elevate your business then look no further. Our competition with Tide will allow you to test your products at one of Tide’s pop up locations, a chance to win £5,000 cash no strings attached and a card reader worth up to £80. What are you waiting for? Apply today to be in with a chance to win big!

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