How to Effectively Design Your Pop-up Shop

Ok, so you’ve got your product, your location, your inventory, your staff, and your advertising – but what about the shop design?

Ok, so you’ve got your product, your location, your inventory, your staff, and your advertising – but what about the shop design?
Shop in London - Image credits:

You’re not planning a Costco here, with row after row of stocked metal shelves, filled from floor to ceiling. This is your pop-up shop we’re talking about! It’s trendy, aesthetically appealing, fleeting, and maybe comes with an experience! It’s temporary and exciting and everyone knows it.

So how do you actually build the space for all of that to happen? Well, it’s all about your layout. Creating and building your pop-up shop layout includes various objectives and should help to answer important questions.

You will be confronted with decisions regarding finding the ‘right furniture’ and brand designs, props, and stands. And find answers to questions like: Do we require change rooms, a workshop/presentation area, or a seating area? And will there be a path that we expect consumers to flow through? This task of the layout can be the make or break of your shop’s success – both mentally and financially!

Let us help you sort out how to effectively design your pop-up layout.

There are so many things to consider when making the big decisions for your pop-up shop layout; such as your target market’s physical needs, wants and comfort zones, as well as the type of product you sell. This will have everything to do with both the locations in which you place products around the store as well as the flow of the temporary shop – these are just a few key variables to sort through. With there being so many things to consider, we decided to break it down into 3 key concepts to consider to simplify this process the best we can!

1. Structure

When deciding on your shop’s layout ‘structure’ keep in mind the whole premise behind your shop. Your shop should ‘Pop-up’ and ‘pop-down’ with the same ease or difficulty. With this being said, your consumers are hoping for some unique, exciting, clean and intriguing experiences they see from your brand either online or in permanent stores. So what are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the structures for your shop?

Our tips:

  • Choose stands and displays that are simple to assemble and disassemble
  • Choose stands that are unique and perhaps decorative (depending on branding) but also don’t take away from the product
  • Use sturdy materials that are ‘on-theme’ and don’t look out of place (like metal industrial shelving for a homey and traditional brand)
  • If your product offering encourages the purchase of multiple items (lower priced, carryable products – makeup, knick-knacks, etc.) consider offering carrying baskets or bags, these should be ‘on-brand’ and be of sturdy make to ensure their longevity
  • Explore modular solutions that can be changed or moved with ease. This can be for space reasons like in the after hours to host workshops, or for simplicity’s sake when calculating the man-hours to put your shop together, and the cost per module.

2. Design

When it comes to your pop-up shop’s design keep in mind what the objective of this pop-up was. You want to be on-brand, if it is a general pop-up of your full product range, product branded if it’s to specifically advertise a new/exclusive product, exciting and unique if it is for an experience based objective or an ‘instagrammable’ space, or even holiday themed. Whichever objective you choose, always ensure your design is practical and fitting for the space. Your design planning is likely an internal job, but ensure that when researching rental furniture, stands, and displays they are sticking with the design of the shop and help to solidify the brand design, not hinder it.

Decide on a floor plan layout that best suits your products offering and brand style, some layout plans include:

- Grid Layout – This layout is commonly used by drugstore chains, grocery and hardware stores. It helps shoppers to move smoothly and efficiently through the store, hitting up all your standard displays.

- The Loop (Racetrack) Layout – The layout is more reminiscent of department stores, or IKEA – providing a guided path through the store strategically made to present products at the right time. The path is usually a colour separate from that of the sections it borders, giving shoppers a clear indication of the path when they are ready to move on to the following section. Think of this as the yellow brick road – ensure there are interesting focal points (displays) along the way to make each stop as engaging as the last.

- Free Flow Layout – Ignoring your expected design layouts such as the grid or loop, the free flow challenges retail standards, providing shoppers the opportunity to explore the shop as they see fit based on their own priorities and interests. Seen as modern, sophisticated and open-minded, this layout gives shoppers the freedom to explore and ‘get lost’ in your store.

Our tips:

  • Build intriguing and eye-catching window displays to draw customers inside from the street
  • Create a captivating entrance that continues to draw the eye forward into your shop – having your ‘best at the back’ can prove beneficial for increasing the time spent in your pop-up shop
  • How and where you display your merchandise is important. When a new customer enters your shop they should be surrounded by merchandise and not checkout counters or other service areas. Some spaces are more valuable than others in catching attention and securing sales, these are your prime real estate – the Lakefront property of your pop-up shop. Your lakefront properties can further be evaluated as such:

- The Decompression Zone – Just as the name states, this is the area of your shop where shoppers will come in and decompress from the world outside the realm of your pop-up shop and adjust to your environment, atmosphere, and merchandise. Keep in mind that while they are clearing their head, shoppers will likely miss merchandise you display in this are, as well as signage, carts, and baskets (keep these closer to the direct entrance).

- The Power Wall – As stated earlier, 90% of American shoppers enter a shop and turn right, this is where your ‘power wall’ lives. This is the face of your pop-up shop, keep in mind the importance of first impressions when stocking these shelves or racks as this is what will paint the shopper’s perception of your brand. There is more than one power wall in your shop – but the ‘right’ one is of the utmost importance.

- The Speedbumps – Slow down! After shoppers enter past the decompression zone you want to slow them down to linger a bit in your shop, contemplating purchases. Speed bumps are the displays made to slow them down. These displays are great for featuring seasonal lines, sale items, or new products. Rotate your speed bumps about once a week to keep your shop interesting and diverse.

  • Take care in planning your ‘decor package’ effectively, this encompasses your brand and consists of all of the elements – walls, floors, primary and accent colors, fixtures, and signage, these will have to work together to solidify the branding
  • Spacing is key – avoid the ‘butt-brushing’ effect to ensure that your customers are comfortable and there is ample room for personal space for them to fully soak up your product offering
  • Above all else – with your pop-up shop design, be unique. This isn’t your permanent shop and therefore doesn’t need to be neutral enough to change with the ‘season’. This can be exciting and different, bright and a little overboard than what you might normally design

3. Functionality

Perhaps one of the most important concepts to consider when planning your pop-up shop, the functionality of your shop must coincide with your products, your customers, your plans, and your location. Since you are dealing with presumably a temporary and smaller space than where your products are used to living, ensure that you are using the entirety of the space to its fullest potential. If your pop-up shop is doubling up on objectives, like providing an experience AND boosting sales, make sure that the check-out (whether stationary or mobile) is easily accessible, but doesn’t take away from the rest of pop-up shop experience. Having seating may be important – but again will depend on what you anticipate the customer turn-over rate will be and how much time you expect each customer to spend ‘inside’.

Our tips:

  • Create a free-flowing path for customers to follow through your shop, keeping in mind the ‘the invariant right’, that 90% of (American) consumers will turn right upon entering your store and flow from there
  • Keep in mind the amount of time consumers will spend in the shop** and provide enough for them to see and try based on your calculations
  • Consider whether or not you are hosting events and will need to ‘make or change the space’ for such events
  • Decide whether buyers pay at a stationary check-out or mobile check-outs
  • Consider if it necessary for consumers to try on or test your product – this will require it’s own functional space
  • Determine if you will segment or compartmentalize the space based on product offerings

We want your brand and other brands like it to explore the exciting world of pop-up shops – and hope that our posts can ease the process for you. Be sure to check out our platform at for more information, and to browse thousands of spaces available worldwide for your pop-up shop.

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