Ask the experts – how do I make my pop-up stand out from the crowd?

I’ve just booked my pop-up location and I’m ready to start installing and decorating the space. With lots of competition out there, how can I make my project stand out from the rest?

More and more pop-up retailers are reimagining the way that we browse and buy in order to offer something that is more than ‘just shopping’.  By creating a unique environment within your pop-up – through anything from an innovative floor plan to flamboyant lighting installations – you can create an exciting, memorable experience for your audience.

We spoke to Calypso Rose, Director of The Indytute, Eve Reid, Visual Retail Specialist at Metamorphosis, and Daniel Peters, Founder and Creative Director of BBS Clothing about their expert tips on nailing your visual merchandising, creating a unique in-store experience and ultimately making your pop-up pop.

Grab people’s attention

The first thing that your potential customers will see is the outside of your space from the street. You need to grab their attention as they walk past. Eve recommends that you “think about how you can use your façade and windows creatively to capture your customer’s imagination and focus their attention on your products.”

“Your window display doesn’t need to be a complex set-up,” says Daniel, “but do remember that this is the first interaction that a passer by will have with your brand – it’s the perfect way to encourage them to browse and hopefully make a sale.”

Calypso adds that it’s a great idea to “collaborate with an artist to help with your window. Having a moving element in your shop window really makes people stop and look.” 


Create an atmosphere

Daniel explains that it is important to “take your customers on a journey through the space. You want to make people feel like they’ll find something new on every single pinpoint that you’ve chosen to build.”

But it’s not just about the layout – there’s so much more. Eve advises that “when building a great atmosphere you must consider smells, the music choice and volume, lighting. Even the store’s temperature is key as the customer won’t stay long in somewhere that is too hot or cold.”

For a quick insight into how your audience will experience you pop-up, she suggests that you “place a blindfold over your eyes and walk in your store as a customer – how does it feel and sound?”

Tell your story

It’s all about the story!” Calypso tells us. “From adding snippets about how you started, to your product labelling, to going all out and putting it on a huge sign behind the till. If you’ve had recent press, don’t be shy.  Let people know.” Likewise, if you are curating other labels, “find out the story behind the brands you stock and make sure your staff can re-tell the story.”

Adding to that, Eve explains that “successful brands create a strong visual connection with their customers through a series of visual touch points. It’s about visually conveying what your brand represents and showing your taste, style and personality through the following things:

  • Your choice of colour
  • Your choice of images
  • The way you package things
  • The type of products you choose to sell
  • The way in which you merchandise
  • The type of tickets you use
  • Your choice of props
  • The way you and your team dress

Top tip: check out our previous Ask the Experts post on the best ways to build your brand identity within your shop.

The Dandy Lab, December 2014

Showcase your products well

Dedicate plenty of time to your visual merchandising. Here Calypso breaks down some important things to think about:

1. “Test, test, test. Watch the flow of your customers in your store and don’t be scared to have a big change overnight. Rotating stock is an excellent way of keeping the store looking fresh.”

2. Be clear and don’t clutter. “Anything tucked up high or on a bottom shelf won’t sell – give each piece some space. Make sure your customers can tell in an instant what the product is. Complicated products are hard to sell!”

Daniel agrees – “Try not to litter your space with rails and fixtures that make the space feel cramped, as this may encourage a customer to walk away before even getting through the door.”

Top tip: take a look at our Top 10 inspiring pop-up shop design boards and the great projects on for visual inspiration. Pinterest is an incredible resource for ideas too. 

Make it interactive

Eve suggests that you “think how you can make your merchandising interactive: allow your customers to touch, taste, smell, and play with your product. 92% of sales come from touch. Are there ways in which you can encourage customers to interact with the space? Collect thoughts and feedback.”


If you want to take a leaf out of The Indytute’s book, why not curate an in-store workshop or lesson. Calypso explains that “putting a talk or a workshop into your space brings in a new crowd, encourages collaboration opportunities, gathers data and is fantastic for fresh new content.”

Amazing fact: having a workshop in your window can increase sales by up to 800%!

Be creative & resourceful

You don’t need a huge budget to create your in-store experience. Daniel tells us that “I work with a selection of chosen set designers and builders who are in tune with my vision. We work toward creating a unique shop that is born from an itemised budget that encompasses all of the required fit-out pieces.”

Make the most of friends and other designers by asking them to pitch in – Calypso says “if you have a great space there are always people looking to collaborate – I love the We Are Pop Up ShopSharing idea, its excellent!”

Top tip: visit as many other shops as you can for inspiration. From Liberty and Selfridges to your local independent retailers and pop-ups, ideas and new styles are all around you. 


Indytute logo

From poker to ping pong, baking to biking, The Indytute runs brilliantly inspired lessons of all shapes and sizes. @Indytute

Metamorphosis logo

Metamorphosis is a dedicated Independent Retail Consultancy specialising in visual merchandising, brand delivery and retail performance improvement. @MetamorphosisGr

BBSC logo

BBSC, Best of British Shop Clothing, is a curated home for British menswear, providing a platform for both emerging and established designers. @B_B_S_Clothing



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