How to Open a ‘Shopping Mall’ Pop-Up Shop in 7 steps

Opening up a pop-up shop is on the to-do list of many digitally native [vertical] brands (DNVB) these days. Amongst other things a physical store can also help to increase brand awareness, boost revenue, present the perfect opportunity to release a unique and exclusive line, and allow your customers a chance to socialize with your brand.

Opening up a pop-up shop is on the to-do list of many digitally native [vertical] brands (DNVB) these days. Amongst other things a physical store can also help to increase brand awareness, boost revenue, present the perfect opportunity to release a unique and exclusive line, and allow your customers a chance to socialize with your brand.

The opportunities are endless as to where you can open up shop, from downtown shopping districts to open floor space for rent inside a shopping mall. Simon, which runs over 300 shopping centers across America, making it the country’s biggest shopping mall operator, is spearheading the scene with a pop-up dedicated space called ‘the Edit’ at its Roosevelt Field location in NY, as reported by TechCrunch, and they’re not alone. Pop-ups in shopping malls are good for both the retailer and the mall. ‘Adding pop-up shops and working with e-commerce pureplays could reinvigorate malls with unique and rotating offerings’ Business Insider writes, regarding the current state of shopping malls in America.

So let’s dive in on ‘how to open a pop-up shop in 7 steps’.

1. Goals & Location

In order to open your pop-up shop in a mall, it’s important to establish your goal(s) first and understand your options. This will help you to utilise the space to it’s full potential and choose a strategy that helps to leverage the space. The strategy for a pop-up shop in a mall can differ, from one used when opening a pop-up shop in a shopping district, a high-street or a trendy neighbourhood. What makes the shopping mall really stand out as a location, is its ability to attract and retain large numbers of shoppers. Your goals might include:

  • Attract new customers
  • Boost sales
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Improve brand positioning
  • Interact with existing customers
  • Generate buzz for the brand that will manifest itself digitally

When choosing the appropriate shopping mall, try to analyse and better understand your target market. Know their spending habits and their personal budgets. Having an understanding of your target market’s socio-demographic will make it easier to choose a shopping mall that serves your market – which will in-turn help you reach the goals you opted for: attracting new customers who are within your target market, becoming a household name amongst your existing market or simply increasing sales. Trying a unique experience that will generate buzz (or go viral) is also easier to do when you’re doing it amongst your own target market, as they will feel more inclined and excited to share your pop-up shop on social media.

2. Budget

Your budget is as important for your pop-up shop as it is for any other more permanent location. In order to weigh the success of the pop-up shop, having a clear and organized document, highlighting all expenses is important. A pop-up shop can be done on a large range of budgets, however a shopping mall might just be the best “bang-for-your-buck” on a smaller budget as you can rent space or a kiosk in the ‘premises’ between stores, or on a larger budget you can temporarily rent a storefront. Marketing your products, setting appropriate prices for the target market (as discussed earlier) and investing in the space and campaign are all sure fire ways to ensure a positive cash flow and experience from this investment. Your budget will help you define and balance what you can afford, including rent – which in turn will help you determine your location or design budget. Here are a few more things to consider when creating your budget:

  • Rent
  • Staff
  • Furniture & Lighting
  • Inventory
  • Payment solutions (e.g. credit card readers and related fees)
  • Communication (Internet, Phone line)
  • (Liability) Insurance
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Merchandising Fixtures & Window displays
  • Utilities
  • Food and Drinks

3. Space Formats & Renting

Depending on the size, dimensions and allowances of the shopping mall you have chosen to pop-up your shop, your shop formatting will vary. The space you choose should not only be based on your goal and budget, but mainly cater to the audience you hope to attract. Some of the various formats which you might choose to build include:

  • Premises: Short term rental spaces located in the ‘hallway’ of the shopping mall.
  • Container: customized spaces created using one or more modular containers. Within the customized space you can assemble and design a space as you imagined (the most structurally literal form of a pop-up)
  • Kiosk: Built stands located in the common areas of the mall where high quantities of foot-traffic pass.
  • Vacant in-line stores: Potential spaces that the mall has reserved for pop ups .

Once you’ve chosen your pop-up format it is important to know the questions to ask, to ensure you have the flexibility and freedom to turn the shop into what you imagined. These vital questions include:

  • How much is rent per month?
  • What is included in the rental cost?
  • How much are additional utility costs?
  • What are the spaces dimensions?
  • What can be modified within the space?
  • Between you and the landlord, who is liable for what?
  • Is there internet or WiFi already within the shopping mall?
  • Do you need insurance (you normally do)?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • How can you save a space in advance?
  • What are the foot traffic expectations based on the mall’s data?

4. Design & Layout

Once you have decided on your goal, budget, location and format it’s time to plan the atmosphere. Your goal will play into this stage a lot, as whichever objective you chose will influence the flow of traffic through your pop-up shop, your branding/theme, whether you have seating, dressing rooms, ‘experience’ based areas, and a cash out.

Do your research to know what it available in the area of your pop-up shop, in terms of technology for rent, furniture, painting and storage. If you are looking for a modern shop with high turnover, opt for smaller portable POS systems to avoid long line ups. If you are a digitally native clothing brand bringing your clothes to the physical store for the first time – be sure to offer change rooms, even added amenities such as carrying baskets, and seating areas.

Creating additional space for workshops or lectures can be helpful for generating interest during times of slow foot traffic, or understanding the flow through the shop, whether with separate entrances and exits, or an IKEA-like route. All of these aspects are important to executing your first pop-up shop effectively. Keep in mind if you are releasing or selling an exclusive product with this shop, capitalize on the temporary shop – branding the entire location to fit the product – making it recognizable and unique from the outside.

5. Inventory

Ensure that prior to popping-up you are prepared for the duration in which your pop-up shop is advertised to be open. This means having a fully stocked inventory of the pop-up shops product offering, and having somewhere to store it. Most shopping malls maintain separate storage spaces with easy access for trucks and other deliveries. If you are a digitally native brand who is branching outside the confines of the internet for the first time, your loyal customers are going to be excited for this interaction, and will be even more excited at the opportunity to try things or test the quality before committing to the ‘proceed to checkout’ button. Your products might require certain finishings (adding a label, tag, bar code etc.) for easy handling and efficient sales.

You do not want to find yourself still paying rent and not being able to give the people what they’ve come for – don’t be that store. Balance your budget to not only consider rent and all the overhead costs, but also to ensure you’re stocked and ready for the foot traffic that comes from Shopping Malls, and the sales drive that comes with ‘exclusive’ and ‘temporary’.

6. Timeline & Hours

Create an appropriate timeline that starts from the first deposit securing the space, to the disassembly of the shop. There should be time buffers scattered in between including painting, assembling, stocking, first day, workshops, last day, and the due date of your sales performance to analyze the success of your pop-up shop. All of these steps are important enough to document, and keeping them organized makes it easier to share information with the shopping mall landlord, and any design support coming into a location as public as a shopping mall to assist. Trying to keep timelines tight and all parties accountable to it will help in the long run in order to maximize the space you’re renting.

Keep in mind that most shopping malls have pre-set/mandatory opening hours in their rental contracts so make sure to have enough staff resources as you will commit to keeping your shop open during these hours.

7. Advertising & Sales

Last but not least, it’s time to let the world (and all the mall shoppers) know that your exciting, exclusive, temporary, ‘for this month only’ pop-up shop is coming to a shopping mall near them. This advertising will differ from your previous online-only shopping advertising as it might require more print, and more direct targeting. You are now tied down to a geographic location and you need to get the word out. ‘The promise of new retailers and brands, especially ones that don’t usually have a brick-and-mortar presence, may make shopping at malls more fun for consumers, potentially inspiring regular trips that could boost overall sales for malls’ says Business Insider regarding the benefits of pop-up shops for shopping malls. Some ways you can hammer it out in time to generate some traffic for opening day?

  • “Coming Soon” signage outside construction zone
  • “Coming Soon” signage around the mall
  • Send an announcement to your existing audience via email marketing and social media channels
  • Send press releases to relevant publications, bloggers and influencers
  • Social media ads targeting areas around the mall’s location
  • Creating a geo-tag or campaign hashtag for the pop-up to encourage and engage your audience to share their experience
  • Guerilla marketing in and around the shopping mall (always in coordination with the shopping mall’s management)
  • Use exciting, bright, and recognizable sales props such as bags that can be seen and noticed after purchase roaming through the mall.

And as for sales? Hire and train associates who are polite, have great customer service skills, and know your products inside and out. These helpful tips will ensure that your customers spread the good word, and further engage online their positive experience with your brand.

If you own or work for a digitally native brand looking to branch into the pop-up shop market, be sure to check out for more information, and to browse thousands of spaces available worldwide.

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