Set Up A Pop-Up Shop


Pop-up shops are an exciting global trend in retail and food business. From small traders to large multinationals, pop-up shops in major cities around the world are proving popular with customers. Behind the current hype, short term retail is a proven method of product promotion, brand awareness, and market testing for a potential new business.

The pop-up shop business model has been around for a long time, examples of popular pop-ups include shops opening in the pre-Christmas period, or before Halloween to sell costumes or fireworks. In more recent times, in response to increased vacancy levels on the high street the pop-up shop business model has been utilised to test the market for a new business idea, launch a new product or provide a short-term physical location for online retailers.

Pop-up shops can be great drivers of sales and awareness in product retail, from clothing to seasonal goods, or short-term food sales from a snack food operation up to a fully fledged restaurant. They are a great outlet for innovation and creativity, and can be a good first step for an entrepreneur looking to establish to a more permanent business.

This guide will help you to understand the process involved in planning and setting up your pop-up business in Northern Ireland. It will also point to further information on the main aspects of setting up, how to avoid pitfalls, and turn your pop-up business into a success.

Register for free business start-up support

Access free start-up business support through Invest Northern Ireland’s (NI) Regional Start Initiative, the programme includes one-to-one mentoring, business workshops and business plan development. Register for the Regional Start Initiative on the Invest Northern Ireland website.

What is a pop-up shop?

Pop-up shops are used in many business sectors as a form of non-traditional retail. The motives for opening a short term retail business or location in Northern Ireland can be varied, and will depend upon the business opportunity you are trying to exploit. A pop-up can be a very effective business model for:

  • starting up
  • moving into a new market
  • growth through brand awareness

Testing the market as a start up

Pop-up shops provide potential entrepreneurs with a fantastic test bed for their business ideas. Finding finance for a new business idea can be a problem for potential entrepreneurs. Setting up a fixed-term business, with a strong business plan, can open up doors to finance. Demonstrating proven sales in a real world setting provides important evidence of a business’s viability.

Running a pop-up shop can allow you to test your skills as a business owner. A new product or service may be difficult to ‘sell’ as a concept, but establishing demand from customers in a retail environment is a fundamental step to a successful business. Getting your creative ideas into the market allows you to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

My New Business Directory

If you are considering starting a business in Northern Ireland you can access fantastic support by using our My New Business Directory – a free online service that covers everything you need to start a business. It has videos, tools and other learning resources – like tutorials and case studies. They are designed to help you get your business started. It includes a start-up check list that can be tailored to your specific needs. It will help you consider key questions including:

  • What type of business am I starting?
  • What is a business plan and why do I need one?
  • How much money do I need to set up my business?
  • Who are my customers?

For more information on particular issues to consider starting up in the current business climate, see nibusinessinfo‘s guide on starting a business when economic conditions are tough.

An existing business moving into a new market

Established businesses can use the pop-up concept as a means of testing a new business direction or market opportunity. Opening a pop-up shop allows a separation from your main business, allowing you to manage risk when moving into a new market.

Pop-up shops are a great way of moving into a new business area. You can find out more about changing direction in business in nibusinessinfo’s guide to spotting market opportunities.

Get more information on issues facing businesses trading for short periods in nibusinessinfo’s guide on advice for seasonal businesses.

Publicity and brand awareness

If your business has an established brand or product, opening a pop-up shop can be a great tool for increasing brand awareness and brand loyalty amongst customers.

Many large companies have used the pop-up model to open ‘guerrilla’ operations in fashionable locations, as a ‘brand event’. This can be used to target existing customers, improve communication and loyalty, and create a buzz to attract new customers.

Obvious opportunities are available in traditional locations such as shopping centres or outlet centres in Northern Ireland. However creating an ‘event’ feel could mean seeking a location for your retail or service pop-up in a non-traditional premises or area. For more information on locating your pop-up business in Northern Ireland, see the page in nibusinessinfo’s guide on how to find the right premises for a pop-up shop.

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