Take risks and aim high: nine things I learnt from my first retail pop up

I established La Gent in 2014 as an online lifestyle shop. Since then, we’ve grown steadily and have established ourselves among partners and customers. But while online retail requires less investment and provides visibility, I would someday like to have a bricks and mortar shop in addition to an online presence. When it comes to making the transition, a pop up is a great way to experiment and get the word out to your customer base. Having just finished our first ever pop up, I’ve learnt a few things which are useful for anyone looking to make the jump. 

 

Think beyond stacking products on shelves. A pop up is a chance to embody your brand and bring it to life.

 

 

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project

1. Be ambitious

Think beyond shelves and products. A pop up is a chance to embody your brand and bring it to life. Think about your ideal customer and how you would envision them living with your products rather than just a typical retail experience of stacking shelves.

2. Location is key

Depending on who you’re targeting, you want your pop up shop to reflect your target demographic. As a luxury and craft platform, I opted for a shared space through Appear Here at The Koppel Project with a gallery, Phaidon bookshop and cafe in London’s Marylebone to maximise the traffic and attract people with a certain aesthetic. If my business were to target a tech or banking crowd, the playing field would have been completely different.

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project

3. Partnerships provide greater visibility

Start by asking yourself which other brands you admire. Talk to them about how you could work together. By partnering with other brands, you’ll be able to collaborate with more established companies or some with a similar type of customer you’re targeting. You’ll therefore be able to elevate your own brand by association if you are new. For the other brand, it might mean a chance for free promotion. Our partnership with Pinch, a furniture design company, allowed us to create beautiful living spaces and allow people to visualise our products in a home.

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project

4. Think beyond short term gain

There are probably things you could do that would boost sales in the short term but think hard before doing them. Do they cheapen your brand image or give a bad customer experience?  You want to build sustainability for the long term which might mean taking a small hit in the short term. We did not focus too much on selling to customers but more on handing out cards and using the space to showcase our products and vision. The pop up was therefore more of a brand awareness exercise than anything else.

5. Little details matter

If you are small and on a limited budget, it is often easy to go for the easiest option on little details such as price tags or the flowers on display. It is however the little details that make up the big picture and reflect your brand. This is especially important when you are establishing yourself and making first impressions.

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project

6. A solid PR and marketing strategy is essential

Prepare a detailed PR and marketing plan and be willing to hound journalists and bloggers for coverage. You have to create buzz and get the word out there, otherwise it doesn't matter how amazing the space is. Going beyond media, make sure you communicate your pop up to your social media following and online subscribers, who will no doubt be interested in seeing your brands in person.

7. Let your pop up ease in

Unless you are already a bigger brand with a huge audience, I would recommend staying for 3-4 weeks minimum. It takes at least a week to settle in. So if you only stay for 2 weeks you might be shutting up before you can build any momentum.

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project

8. Get a good team

Even if they are friends and family - you can’t do everything yourself. Delegate and share the workload so you can focus on strategic things. Because the timings are quite tight with logistics, it is also important to communicate constantly to ensure everything runs smoothly.

9. Things will go wrong

Often attributed to Steve Jobs is the attribute of grit - the ability to keep going and overcome disappointment. It makes the difference between a successful and unsuccessful entrepreneur. Some things will not go as you expect but you need to develop the ability to see beyond it and carry on. Most important of all, learn from mistakes and apply them to your business going forward. Entrepreneurship is about trial and error, and even the smallest risks can reap huge rewards.

Appear Here La Gent Pinch Koppel Project