The who and why

Vinomofo Co-founder, Leigh Morgan masterminded the brand’s recent retail pop-up store in Richmond, Victoria. Vinomofo started in a garage in Adelaide in 2011 and in just over 4 years have grown its customer base to nearly 350,000 nationwide.

Vinomofo held its first pop-up sale event of 2,500 cases of wine in a funky old warehouse in Richmond, just around the corner from their office.

They elected to use a pop up shop for a couple of reasons:

  1. We wanted at least our Melbourne members to be able to stock up for Christmas without the stress of possible shipping delays close to the holidays;
  2. We wanted to actually MEET some of our members – we’ve got ‘Mofos’ who’ve spent $15,000-$20,000 with us, and you want to put a face to someone who’s helped build your business, and say thank you!

But they ended up getting far more than that.

"We got to really know our Richmond retail community, we won a whole lot of new members, and we brought our own team closer together."

So what lessons can they share with others looking to launch a pop up? Read on!

1. Location

Just like online you want a good URL, for your pop-up you want a hot space. Busy street. Foot traffic. This should be the foundation of your marketing campaign, and you should spend what it takes to get it. Also consider car access (we were loading four or five cases into peoples’ boots more often than not). Book three months ahead if you can. We had a great space, but in hindsight, even 100 metres closer to Swan St would have been better.

2. Staff

We staffed our event with our whole team, basically shutting down the office for a few days, and everyone was kind enough to give us their Saturday and Sunday. But moving forwards, we’ll need good casuals, a pop-up crew. We had greeting staff, bar staff, cashiers, pickers and loaders, as well as people wandering up and down the street handing out flyers and spreading the word. Six to twelve should do it, depending on your space, but you need to staff based on the busy times, and that’s hour by hour!

3. Marketing

It’s a different world from SEM! Your location is your biggest marketing tool, but then we also did a local flyer drop (approx. $6,000 including printing), and listed in all the pop-up and what’s on directory sites (some were free, many were not). PR was good for us, and you could consider outdoor advertising and radio advertising as well. It’s not cheap, and remember that’s straight out of your break-even budget. It’s a risk, but then so is an empty pop-up! And once they’re there – sign them up! We used a simple MailChimp app on a couple of iPads, and got 1,000 new customers. Totally worth it.

4. Logistics

Take it from me and the 12 ‘mofos’ who hefted, trolleyed and stacked 2,500 15kg boxes of wine by hand – if you’ve got the kind of product that could use a forklift, you want forklift access to your space! Or at least pallet jacks, trolley ramps, etc. And truck access for delivering stock, furniture, and everything else that’s going into your pop-up.

5. Rules and Regulations

Liquor license, public liability insurance, council permissions, etc. Get this done and dusted as soon as you can, then it’s out of the way! Get in touch with your local council, tell them what you’re doing, and find out what you are and aren’t allowed to do. We started putting posters on street poles, only to have a council member come along and tell us to take them down, or risk a fine of $400 per poster!

6. Community

Tell the local community – not only might you drum up more customers, but these people have invested in shops, and they were here long before you. They might not be thrilled about you swanning in and setting up shop for a weekend, particularly your competitors. The Richmond community were very warm and welcoming, for the most part, but we got around to meet them. It’s worth doing, and asking for advice. What can you add to the community for that period? Are you bringing new customers for them too, or just stealing theirs?

In Summary

There is a lot to think about, and even more to do, to pull off a successful pop-up. I highly recommend doing it though. Standing in the pop-up space at 8:45am and seeing a dozen people queued up outside, waiting for you to open – it’s like being six years old again and waiting for your party to start, hoping your friends will be there, and then seeing your best friend walking up the driveway. Sure, getting face-to-face, first hand feedback on your products, and your business – it’s confronting, it’s raw, but it’s cool. You get a chance to make a real impression, a human impression. Totally worth the sore feet.

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