We’re all familiar with eye-catching point-of-purchase (POP) or point-of-sale (POS) displays . . . maybe they entice us to buy a pack of chewing gum or a scrumptious candy bar or a magazine that we don’t really need but suddenly must have.
POP displays are typically found near the cash register and can be used to promote special events, seasonal sales or impulse buys. Whatever they’re used to promote, they’re effective — and they are an important part of a business’ sales strategy.
Todd Cole is design director at King Retail Solutions in Eugene, Oregon. KRS designs and builds custom POP displays for customers and designs stores across the nation in all different industries.
Cole says there are few businesses that wouldn’t benefit from a good point-of-purchase display, although he stresses the “good” part of that equation. “If you’re investing in POP then you’re already making a point of standing out from your competition,” he says.
“You’re forcing the retailer to present your merchandise exactly how you intend, providing it doesn’t shove the display in a shadowy corner. And ultimately you’re buying the shoppers’ interest because if the POP display is doing its job, they’re going to immediately know a little bit more about your product and be intrigued.”
There’s almost no limit to the ways POP displays can be customized. “They can be automated. They can be digital. They can be sculptural. They can be part of a social media campaign. If you’re selling a concrete product, you could create a POP display made out of your product. Consumers have never been more receptive to innovation than today. They’re also oversaturated with messages, images and marketing noise. Anything you can do to be a purple cow will stick in their minds and lead to sales lift.”
Part of the success of these custom displays is building your product’s unique selling points into it. It should read intuitively and easily, or not require much reading at all. “Is your product earth-friendly? Is it easy to use? Long-lasting?” Cole asks.
Be a standout
“Your display should scream all of those things in a way that’s eye-catching, eye-pleasing and puts your product at the forefront as the star of the show,” he adds. Therein lays the challenge, of course.
The purpose of POP displays is to stand out, to cause a splash, Cole explains. “It’s especially useful when done in tandem with a specific marketing campaign,” he says.
“If you’re launching a new product or new product innovation, POP displays don’t guarantee a rise in sales but they kind of do. People are trained to seek out the anomaly. If your display is front and center and catches their interest, one assumption they’ll make is that your product is legitimate, that the retailer is vouching for it.”
Why we buy
There’s some interesting psychology behind why POP displays are so successful. Cole points to research in the book “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping,” by Paco Underhill, which reads, “If you have no real basis for comparing one product to another, the normal instinct is to buy what’s cheaper. But if a store sets itself up to educate shoppers, even just a little, a certain number of them will spend more than what is absolutely necessary.
“If given a choice of three brands, or three models, and given the chance to pit one against the others,” he continues, “the shopper will at least have a sensible reason for choosing the better item.”
Cole sums up that research by stating, essentially, that with a POP display, you’re ensuring customers include your product in any internal comparison they’re making before they buy.
“You’re removing the possibility that you’ll just be a price tag among price tags for the same essential product,” Cole says. “You’re forcing other factors into the mix. You’re making quality a consideration and you’re telling the shopper what quality factors they should be thinking about which, of course, are the quality factors your product possesses.”
Time to refresh, but not overload
You may already have some POP displays that may or may not be effective. Maybe it’s time to ask your suppliers to send you new ones. Maybe it’s time to replace the ones you have with more modern and eye-catching displays. But set some ground rules and think things through before you begin gutting your retail space.
You don’t want the space to be overwhelmed with displays. Customers should be able to move freely and not be bombarded with a display around every corner. “If your store is entirely covered in POPs it becomes a penny arcade and suddenly everything feels very unfocused and overwhelming,” says Cole.
“If you’re a retailer looking to create POP displays in your store for the products you’re selling, I’d say a big consideration would be becoming an expert on that product. Customers like to ask questions and you need to be ready to answer any and all questions. By becoming an expert you can also prove to yourself that you really stand behind the product you’re about to tout,” he says.
“Another consideration would be, ‘Is there any way to turn this into a demo or to sample this product?’ That could mean a temporary display that reads more like a workshop. But shoppers do like to see things in action. People believe their own eyes.”