Written by Elise Dopson

February 14, 2022

An astounding 81% of shoppers use Instagram to research products and services before purchasing. If you have any reach at all on the platform, this stat probably rings true for many of your future and existing followers. 

Hosting an Instagram pop-up shop could be the catalyst needed for potential customers who’ve been researching and contemplating what you offer to finally pull the trigger and buy. Instagram diverts local shoppers to your pop-up event, building buzz and generating revenue in the process.

Ready to host your own? This guide shares what an Instagram pop-up shop is, as well as the benefits of and process to create one.

What is an Instagram pop-up shop?

Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces set up in areas with heavy foot traffic, such as malls and city centers. Instagram pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces and events promoted through the Instagram app.

Such shops can be a convenient way to “give customers a tactile feel of your products, and to conduct research and collect data,” said Yuvi Alpert, founder of Noémie

According to Alpert, the Noémie pop-up event was a huge success because “it not only served as a physical point of sale, but also allowed us to directly engage customers, to gain insight into future products. 

“For example, from these events, we found the value of QR codes and synergistic cross-promotion. Pop-up shops provide unique insight through firsthand accounts to which access is limited in the digital world,” he said.

The benefits of creating an Instagram pop-up shop

Now we know what an Instagram pop-up shop is, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of creating those experiences for your potential customers.

Increase brand reach

Ecommerce sales are expected to rise to nearly $5.5 trillion in 2022, leaving no doubt that online commerce has massive potential. However, there’s also a benefit to having a physical location, especially since more people are getting back to in-person shopping.

Since January 2021, many brick-and-mortar businesses — including retail stores — have seen in-person visits increase by 44%. Even a temporary retail location can work wonders for expanding your reach beyond the internet. It can introduce your brand to people who aren’t aware of it, make an impactful first impression, thanks to one-on-one interaction, and result in immediate sales.

Gain customer insights

Do you regularly track how much engagement your Instagram posts get? Tracking post engagement can help you understand things like what kind of content is most effective or the best times to post. 

Do you use a brand mention or sentiment analysis tool to track how people perceive and talk about your brand? This, too, can be incredibly helpful as you optimize your strategy.

But, as Alpert mentioned, there’s nothing like seeing potential customers’ reactions to your product, services, or customer experience in real life. Not to mention learning from:

  • The way they converse about the problem you solve or the goal you help them reach.
  • The way they talk about and view your industry, offers, and brand.
  • The questions they ask, which reveal their top interests and concerns.

Instagram pop-up experiences bring your ideal customer profiles to life because they allow you to interact with and observe your ideal customers in real life. The information you gather from a pop-up event helps your business develop more detailed, accurate customer profiles, laser-targeted marketing and sales, and better product offerings.

Build stronger relationships

Online, many of the nuances of communication and personality are dulled or lost altogether; and building relationships can be difficult when you and your target audience are separated by a computer or smartphone screen.  

In-person interactions resolve those issues, especially if you’ve had some previous interaction with the people who visit your temporary location. It’s also a fun way to meet your Instagram followers IRL and showcase your brand personality away from the screen. 

Save money on advertising

Setting up shop at a temporary location most likely won’t be free. You’ll probably have to rent the location, buy display cases and other functional items, and purchase decorations. However, advertising doesn’t have to be a big expense with an Instagram pop-up. Visitors to your shop can do much of the advertising for you.

For example, many brands have encouraged user-generated content by creating Instagram walls where people can take selfies and share them with their followers. Doing this (in addition to taking and posting your own pictures) will get the word out about your experience for free.

Earn the trust of your target market

What’s the added benefit of encouraging user-generated content through Instagrammable photo-op, selfie area, and branded hashtags, you may ask? 

Well, when your target market sees individuals they trust (i.e., family and friends) have good in-person experiences with your brand, you earn their trust. This can help you grow your following and make more sales both now and in the future. (Did you know, 92% of people trust recommendations from their friends and family?)

Pop-up stores also provide two big advantages when it comes to sales:

  1. In addition to promoting your event on Instagram, pop-ups attract people in the surrounding area.
  2. There’s a sense of urgency around the event since your shop is temporary. When used in the right way, this urgency has the potential to triple conversions.

How to create an Instagram pop-up shop

There’s no doubt that hosting an Instagram pop-up shop can help your eCommerce business build trust, increase revenue, and save costs. Here are three steps to create your own.

1. Plan ahead

For best results, carefully think about your event type, location, and timing. 

Event type

Setting a goal for your event will help you create a cohesive and enjoyable experience, which, in turn, can generate more hype. You’ll also be able to more accurately judge the turnout of your event if you create it with a defined purpose or theme in mind. 

For example, do you want to test what could potentially be a permanent physical location? Introduce and gauge the response to a new product or service? Increase awareness of your brand and give your customer acquisition efforts a quick boost by expanding them to the physical world? 

Whatever the goal, build the experience around that. If you want to introduce a new product, that product should be front and center even though you may have other offerings. This can involve:

  • Setting up areas dedicated to different product use cases or customer types.
  • Hosting demos or workshops, which can be the perfect opportunity to see what questions potential customers have or how they react to the product.
  • Creating a photo area that encourages people to take pictures with the product and post them on Instagram.

Location

Temporary retail spaces are typically set up in areas with lots of foot traffic to attract as many passersby as possible. 

But it’s also important to think about where the highest concentration of your potential customers is. After all, if no one’s interested in your shop because you’ve chosen the wrong location, it won’t matter that you’re in a busy area. 

To illustrate, which location would be better for a trendy streetwear brand? Inside a mall or in the busy business district downtown? The answer is obvious. So don’t just go where the people are, go where your followers are. 

Lean on Instagram Insights to discover cities where most of your Instagram followers are, and investigate popular geotags your customers are using with your products. 

instagram insights

Timing

Timing can single-handedly make or break the success of your Instagram pop-up. Think about what would happen if, for instance, you held your event on a major holiday or the same day as a popular local sporting event. It would probably be more challenging to rally in-person supporters, right? 

Schedule the launch of your temporary retail shop for a time when there are few foreseeable distractions. Also consider how much notice you should give your Instagram followers and other supporters so they can plan on showing up. Schedule a handful of promotional posts to your business’s Instagram account a few weeks in advance. 

2. Include promotion in your preparations

Ask any eCommerce brand that’s created a pop-up store and they’ll tell you: Promotion is a key part of setting yourself up for success. There are several ways to do this on Instagram. 

Instagram Stories

Since Instagram Stories are temporary (lasting just 24 hours), they’re great for sharing teasers with your audience to generate curiosity and hype. 

For example, you could show snippets of the behind-the-scenes setup of your shop, the location, or your merchandise to get people interested in what you’re doing. A countdown sticker can also be an exciting addition to your Stories to heighten anticipation among your audience.

You can also create fun polls to get your followers engaged. For example, with Instagram Polls, you can give followers a say in what items they’d like to see in your pop-up shop. 

Instagram Reels

Why not create a Reel to share information about your upcoming pop-up experience and invite people in the area to come through? Unlike Stories, Instagram Reels stay on your profile, and are accessible to anyone visiting your profile in the days or weeks leading up to the event. 

Plus, you can generate hype by requesting that people DM you for more information. With ManyChat’s Flow Builder, responding to interested people quickly and at scale is a breeze. Simply use a keyword trigger, such as “POP-UP”, so anyone who DMs your account using the keyword automatically receives information about the event — including the time, date, and location. 

manychat instagram automation comment trigger

3. Continue promotion throughout your event

Promotion shouldn’t stop once your pop-up shop opens. If anything, you should pick up the pace, taking advantage of the new promotional opportunities you’ll have. Do this through:

IGTV

While Reels have a 1-minute limit, IGTV allows for much longer content. This makes it a good option for things like daily recaps, overall event recaps, and brief tours of your shop for supporters who aren’t local or can’t make it.

Instagram Live 

Because real-time, “face-to-face” interaction is limited on social media platforms, livestreams can often generate more immediate buzz and excitement than other types of content. Use this to your advantage and:

  • Give updates on how your event is going. 
  • Encourage local supporters to come by. 
  • Answer related questions in real time. 

Although the ultimate goal is to drive in-person visits, Instagram Live can also drive sales via your eCommerce store. This is especially smart if your audience transcends your local area. 

For example, could you stream your in-person product demo for your nationwide customers? If so, and if you have Instagram Shop, pin a button to the bottom of your broadcast to allow viewers to shop and check out online. This could get you more sales than if you only focused on selling to people who stop by your physical location during the limited time that it’s open.

Four Instagram pop-up shop examples to inspire yours

Now that we’ve covered how to create a shop successfully and the benefits of doing so, let’s check out some real-life success stories. 

1. Instagram 

Instagram’s in-person store, which was open for two days, featured exclusive products from a handful of brands that have grown with the help of Instagram. All of the featured brands took to Instagram to showcase their products, share pictures with customers, and encourage followers in the area to come by. 

instagram pop-up shop

By the end of the wildly successful, two-day event, the brands collectively raved about one thing: How great it was to meet so many customers in person. This is a common thread found not just across this Instagram event, but across pop-ups in general.

2. Daily Drip

For Daily Drip’s second anniversary, the owners of this coffee and dessert shop hosted a “pop-up sip and shop” along with several other Arizona-based businesses.  

instagram pop-up shop example

This small business wisely used a special occasion to generate buzz around the business, boost sales by running specials all day, and test out new drink offerings. 

The response? Daily Drip’s announcement post alone got more than 150 likes, as well as positive comments from followers. Additional promotion via Instagram and other channels — both by Daily Drip and the other businesses involved — contributed to a good turnout for the one-day event.   

3. Color Factory

Since 2017, Color Factory, an interactive art museum, has successfully created pop-ups in San Francisco, New York City, and other cities throughout the U.S. Its fun, family-friendly experiences are known for being great Instagram photo-ops, which no doubt contributes to its massive brand reach.

Additionally, Color Factory consistently promotes its pop-up locations to 300K followers, encouraging them to purchase tickets. It’s a testament to the importance and benefits of promotion (both user-generated and otherwise).

instagram pop-up shop example

4. Winky Lux

Winky Lux is a luxury cosmetic and skin care brand that has permanent, physical retail locations in addition to its eCommerce store. However, it has also set up several temporary pop-up spaces in NYC, Chicago, and Nashville. Each has featured nine Instagram-worthy rooms full of plush pillows, flowers, and, of course, Winky Lux makeup.

instagram pop-up shop example

These experiences have been a hit among the brand’s followers. And, since the price of a ticket goes toward the purchase of a product at the end, it has resulted in tons of sales as well.

Start planning your Instagram pop-up store 

The benefits of creating pop-up experiences are numerous. Not only will you build stronger, more personal relationships with your Instagram followers, but you’ll make sales and save money on advertising thanks to physical foot traffic and user-generated content.

In just three steps — planning ahead, promoting beforehand, and doing Instagram promotion while your temporary location is open — these benefits are within your reach. Draw inspiration from eCommerce brands that have successfully hosted Instagram pop-ups, and start planning your own event.

Need help managing your Instagram account? Instagram Automation by ManyChat is designed to streamline and automate the process for you.

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The contents of this blog were independently prepared and are for informational purposes only. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ManyChat or any other party. Individual results may vary.