Point-of-purchase, or POP, displays are a marketing and advertising strategy used in retail stores to promote specific merchandise and special offers to shoppers who are ready to make a purchase.
POP displays can be located near the checkout counter or in certain areas of the store to encourage purchasing decisions. For example, at the ends of aisles or in the center of aisles.
Most marketing efforts aim to help a prospective buyer understand solutions to a problem, evaluate product or service options, and decide to make a purchase.
The methodology varies between initially buying a consumer’s attention or earning it as part of a strategy to build a larger brand audience. But the goals of each are the same: educate, inform, and persuade buyers to make a purchase.
Point-of-purchase marketing, however, works a little differently. It provides a last-minute way for retailers to influence the details of a shopper’s purchasing decision, and when done right, it can lead to increased sales.
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What is a point of purchase?
A point of purchase can be physical or digital and is strategically placed in retail stores to advertise products and encourage customers to make purchasing decisions. POP displays are used to enhance shoppers’ in-store experience and emphasize specific products or offers. It’s not a marketing strategy to increase foot traffic, but rather to increase sales once the customer comes into your store.
Point of purchase vs. point of sale
There’s often confusion between point of purchase and point of sale (POS), which makes sense, since they do have some similarities. But it’s important to understand how they’re different.
A POP display is the physical place where products are displayed in your store. This includes shelf stoppers, freestanding displays, or a specialized POP display with promotional signage.
A POS is the specific place where the transaction happens. It’s where the sale and exchange of goods takes place. But you can also use this area of your store to display impulse items encouraging customers to increase their purchase amount at the last minute.
For example, if you have a jewelry store, the POP could be a countertop display where the customer chooses a pair of earrings, and the POS is at the checkout counter where you collect payment and wrap and bag their purchase. But you could leverage your jewelry POS by displaying jewelry cleaner or small jewelry boxes at the counter to encourage the shopper to purchase more products.
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Types of point-of-purchase displays
The types of POP displays can be broken down into the fixtures themselves, as well as by the permanence of the display. Here are a few of the most commonly used types of POP displays:
Temporary POP displays
Temporary displays tend to be the most commonly used type of POP. You can use them to feature seasonal products or special promotions. These types of displays are usually less expensive, made from cardboard, and used in the form of freestanding displays, endcap displays, or dump bins, for example.
Semi-permanent POP displays
Also known as off-shelf displays or secondary displays, semi-permanent displays generally stay up for three months to a year. They are made from stronger materials, including glass, metal, wood, heavier cardboard, and hard plastics.
Semi-permanent displays range in size from large aisle displays to smaller countertop displays. An example of a semi-permanent display in a jewelry shop would be a glass display box that can be moved from the checkout counter to a table or a shelf.
It could also be a pop-up shop that’s set up in a section of your retail store to highlight a specific brand or a range of products you stock.
Permanent POP displays
Permanent point-of-purchase displays are usually larger and are also made from sturdier materials, such as glass, wood, metal, and hard plastics. Depending on how well they’re maintained, they can last three to five years or more.
You can use these displays to build the foundation of your store design and then mix things up weekly, monthly, or however you choose with semi-permanent and temporary POP displays.
For example, a jewelry store would likely have shelves and tables that remain in the same place year after year, while glass display boxes and other smaller POP displays might move around the store.
Digital POP displays
Digital POP displays usually have a digital monitor or LCD screen. In most cases, they still have a physical container and are used to advertise featured products via video or slideshow.
In a jewelry store, this could be a lifestyle video showing a woman wearing her new jewelry or a man proposing to his girlfriend.
Robotic POP displays
Robotic POP displays have only been around since 2020, and at the moment, Tokinomo POP displays are the only ones on the market. It’s essentially a small box with a robotic arm that’s triggered when the customer walks near the box. It’s built to hold most types of consumer products, and when the motion sensor is activated, the product is moved into the shopper’s view.
This way the product stands out from the shelf while light shines on it and a voice recording describes the product and its benefits and features. These robotic displays are wireless and let you connect via WiFi or bluetooth.
What is point-of-purchase marketing?
Messaging delivered to potential customers at the precise moment they decide to make a purchase is called point-of-purchase, or POP marketing. This type of marketing can be used in-store and online to influence buying behavior.
In-store POP displays play an important role in POP marketing. Strategically placing products around your store means shoppers will notice them more, increasing the likelihood of sales. POP marketing includes a range of displays, from labels or banners that catch the attention of customers to larger displays in the middle or at the ends of aisles.
For example, a jewelry store could have a banner above a shelf display that provides an overview of the materials used to make its earrings and the quality of the metals. Highlighting the features and benefits of the products gives customers the information they need to make a purchasing decision.
The main objective is to increase visibility of specific products during the decision-making process to boost sales.
Using POP displays to bring attention to products and show how they’re used will not only help you sell more, it also makes it easier for shoppers to reach for merchandise.
The more noticeable and easy your products are to pick up, the better the chances they’ll sell.
An example of an online POP display would be an upsell or cross-sell feature on your product pages or shopping cart page.
Benefits of point-of-purchase displays
Here are some of the most common benefits of using POP displays:
Most POP displays are temporary and more affordable than permanent in-store fixtures and displays. This way you can change them often to refresh the sales floor at a low cost.
Easy to test
Due to their temporary nature and affordability, using POP displays to test new products or the ways you display specific merchandise is a major advantage. They’re also versatile and easy to move around.
POP displays let you use one display to highlight a specific product, collection, or brand. This way, you’re able to grab the attention of a specific audience or customer segment and build brand awareness.
Without creating a special space or banner for your in-store promotions, customers likely won’t know they exist. POP displays are the perfect way to advertise special promotions and entice customers to buy.
Extra visibility for products
Oftentimes, merchandise can get lost on a rack or crowded shelf, but secondary displays like POP displays let you rotate the products you feature on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. This way, each time a customer visits your store, they experience discovering your products in a new way.
Last, but certainly not least. All the above benefits can lead to more product discovery, higher purchase amounts, and an overall increase in sales.
Tips for point-of-purchase displays
Use the following tips to make the most of your POP marketing.
Where to deploy your point-of-purchase displays
The phrase “point of purchase” may conjure images of wherever customers go to make their purchase and hand over payment.
Placing small, inexpensive, and relevant items on the counter can boost sales. So can using displays of these items to create an area where customers can queue while waiting to check out.
Stores like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret all use physical displays to create a path for customers to wind down on their way to the checkout. They place small items that cost significantly less than the rest of the store’s inventory here.
This point-of-purchase marketing technique works for a few reasons:
- Customers have already made a decision to buy something, making them more likely to buy an additional product if it does not significantly add to the total price of their purchase.
- “Add-on” type items that are highly relevant to your customers can trigger impulsive purchases or serve as reminders for customers. Sephora, for example, keeps its travel- and sample-size products in these displays, which are easy for customers to justify as something they genuinely need to stock up on.
- You can turn a shopping nuisance—a long checkout line and wait time—into an extended shopping experience for your customers. Your display can keep them engaged and interested as they wait, which maintains their decision to buy a product and reduces the chances they’ll walk out empty handed simply because they saw a long line at the register.
Point-of-purchase marketing does include your cash register and checkout counter, but you’re not limited to just these areas in your store. You can get creative with strategies in various places, including:
- Throughout your sales floor
- Directly on specific displays or sections of products
- On customer’s smartphones that they use as they browse
Let’s explore these options to see how you can go beyond the impulse buy at the checkout counter and use point-of-purchase marketing throughout your store to increase your sales.
Provide samples, demos, or other experiences on the sales floor
Setting up stations throughout your store to let customers actually try your product before they buy can influence buying decisions and increase sales.
Whole Foods is well known for the availability of product samples throughout its stores. Many locations invite suppliers and vendors into the store on weekends to set up booths and tables where passing customers can snag a sample of their product.
Similarly, Trader Joe’s sets up places where customers can sample the store’s own line of food. Doing so can drive shoppers to choose a Trader Joe’s store brand over another, similar item it also carries.
You don’t need to sell food items in order to allow customers to try before they buy. You can let customers sample most consumable goods. And you can even work with your suppliers to see if they’ll send sample-size inventory to your store for free to support your efforts to increase sales.
Just be careful when setting out samples. Studies show that when given too many choices, we simply make no choice as the solution to dealing with the overload. That means shoppers may buy nothing at all if they need to make too many decisions.
If you sell items that can’t be consumed, a product demo could work in place of providing samples. Best Buy is constantly practicing point-of-purchase marketing with most of its products because customers can see, touch, and interact with them via sectioned displays. Best Buy offers you the chance to try out the latest iteration of PlayStation or Xbox by setting one up and allowing consumers to play a game on the system. They also have a table with the entire line of Apple products available for shoppers to test.
This gives customers the same try-before-buying experience that can influence their decision. Adding salespeople to the mix, who can suggest additional items and demonstrate how those add-ons will provide more value to the initial purchase, can increase sales even more.
Or take the single sample station idea and turn it into an entire storewide event as a way to influence customers’ specific purchasing decisions after they’ve already made up their minds to shop with you.
To increase the chances of bringing in shoppers who are likely to buy—and to add an air of exclusivity for customers to make them feel valued—use your point-of-sale (POS) system to track sales and what customers purchase at such an event.
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You can send that group of customers an invitation to your event, like Wine Riot, a company that runs a series of wine tasting events, did with a personalized email to 300 of its top customers.
You can do the same and include discounts or promotions, or simply let your customers know about your event with their invitation.
Create a pop-up shop for your own inventory
Pop-up shops usually allow brands to temporarily set up within another retailer’s store. But you can use this technique to showcase a particular line of products or segment of your own inventory.
Shake the Tree, a specialty boutique retailer in Boston, periodically changes up curated displays within its store. It currently features a corner stocked exclusively with barware—including glasses, cocktail shakers, and recipe books—that fits the vibe of the shop, but also has unique items that stand out against its other lines of inventory, like clothing and accessories.
The store’s customers probably didn’t come into the store specifically to buy barware. But the pop-up-inspired display creates a sense of fun and novelty, which can inspire customers to make additional purchasing decisions once in the space.
Try highlighting a new brand or creating a seasonal-inspired shop to increase sales of a limited-time item.
Not only will you be marketing right in-store, but with the seasonal strategy you’ll create a sense of urgency around the fact buyers need to make a purchase decision now before the product is gone.
POP displays are a great place to showcase complementary or similar products. Doing this will make it easier for customers to find products they can purchase together and, in turn, can increase their average purchase amount.
For example, if the jewelry store I mentioned earlier sells earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, coordinating sets or items that look nice together can be placed on the same POP display. Additionally, you could also display jewelry cleaner and storage on the same fixture to encourage customers to purchase add-on products they may not have thought about buying before.
Offer tangible or interactive experiences
As in-store shopping is ramping up again, physical retail is becoming increasingly competitive.
According to a commissioned Forrester Consulting study conducted on behalf of Shopify, 40% of brands say offering experiential retail will be a top priority for them in the next year, something 32% of consumers say they are likely to engage with. POP displays can be used to leverage experiential retail with tangible or interactive experiences.
For example, the jewelry store could create a section in its shop where products from its new summer collection are displayed in an area that has beach chairs, sand, and a bar where piña coladas are served.
The jewelry could be centrally displayed in a glass case with various lifestyle images placed around the space, showing customers how to wear the jewelry and setting a vacation vibe. Store staff could be stationed in the area to help customers try on items from the new collection. This is a great way to bring attention to the new collection in an experiential way.
Build an app for customers to use in-store
Customers today are more motivated to seek out the absolute best prices and deals before they buy. Eighty-four percent of millennials use smartphones in-store to assist them in a purchasing decision.
So meet them there with a branded retail app they can use to shop with you. The specific features of your app will largely depend on your store and the products you sell, so audit other retailers’ apps to brainstorm ideas for your own.
You can include a variety of functions, including:
- Offering deals to customers directly in-store, like Target’s Cartwheel app.
- Generating loyalty by providing rewards (and gamifying the shopping experience by letting customers earn points), like Starbucks’ app. Learn how to create your own customer loyalty program.
- Giving customers a chance to provide feedback and talk about their experience in a simple and easy way, like Render Coffee does:
Alternatively, you can use one of the retail POS software to closely track customer activity and purchases. With this data, you can provide customized offers and discounts to specific shoppers to increase sales or encourage a return visit to the store.
You can send out coupons via email, or you can print offers directly on your receipts (like CVS does for ExtraCard users).
Optimize your point of purchase areas to drive more sales
Your point of purchase marketing can span your entire store, from useful displays that influence shoppers to indulge in unique or novelty items to stations where they can sample products, or at least test them out via a demo.
Your efforts can even include salespeople if they can provide guided demonstrations or trials. They can also act as a resource to customers engaging with displays or samples and assist them in making a purchasing decision.
As customers roam around the store, they can interact with a mobile app on a smartphone—which, if done correctly, can increase sales and sway decision making through special offers, specific discounts, or information on a specific product line (and where to find it within the store).
And of course, the literal point of purchase at the cash register is a final opportunity to boost sales with last-minute marketing tactics.
Take advantage of all these opportunities and you can optimize your entire retail space for point-of-purchase marketing that increases sales while feeling like a benefit for shoppers, through added value, information, and deals.
Base your point-of-purchase strategy on these three factors
- Consumer demand. Do research to understand what your target customers actually want and need. Then create POP displays to match that demand.
- Customer expectations. Think about the features and benefits your target market expects from the products you sell, then promote them via your POP display.
- Competitive advantage. Spy on your competition to see what types of POP displays they’re using in-store. If you notice some setups are catching the attention of more shoppers than others, try to emulate what works and improve what doesn’t.
How to measure the effectiveness of your POP
It might be difficult to keep an eye on your POP displays throughout the day, but you could assign store staff to watch performance or check your in-store cameras on a weekly basis.
Use these metrics to evaluate your POP performance and measure its effectiveness:
Impact. The number of shoppers who look at the POP display and make eye contact for an extended period of time.
Engagement. The number of shoppers who look at the display and interact with it or the products showcased by reading labels, touching, opening, smelling, or testing, for example.
Conversion. The total number of engaged customers who then put products in their shopping cart or basket to buy.
💡 PRO TIP: Want to measure how effective your point of purchase displays are? View the Sales by product report in Shopify admin to see if sales for an item increase after being featured on a display.
Lost conversion. The total number of customers who put products in their cart or basket, but then decide not to complete their purchase.
Leverage POP marketing in your store
No matter what products you sell, finding ways to highlight them and helping customers discover what you have in-store is crucial to the success of your retail business. POP displays are the perfect way to showcase new collections, advertise promotions, and entice customers to purchase more products.
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