The 14 Most Effective Types of Retail Displays, Explained

The 14 Most Effective Types of Retail Displays, Explained

When it comes to visual merchandising, retail displays are where most of the action happens. Knowing the different types of retail displays and how they are used across a variety of product categories is critical to making an impact on sales.

In this post, we will first give a brief overview of what retail displays are and how they fit into a brand’s visual merchandising strategy. We will then go into detail on three categories of retail displays: standalone POP displays and store shelving displays, which are common in the CPG industry, followed by clothing displays, which can differ from CPG retail displays due to the nature of the product.


Retail Display Definition

A retail display is anything in a store that houses or promotes your product. A visual merchandising strategy focuses heavily on the appearance of retail displays, as they are often the first point of contact between your product and the shopper.

Any brand that sells at retail will use retail displays. Visual merchandisers are usually the ones to design and implement retail displays and are also in charge of making sure the displays maintain their appearance over time.

Standalone POP Display: Explanation and Examples

A POP display, also known as a point of purchase display, is any store display that draws attention to your product.

A standalone display is a type of POP display that exists separately from traditional aisle shelves. These displays often appear in the middle of large store aisles called “action alleys,” or anywhere else in the store where there is open space. Standalone displays play a huge role in a brand’s visual merchandising strategy and should be carefully designed to stand out within a retailer.

Here are some examples:

Dump Bins

Dump bins certainly live up to their name — they are literally giant bins in stores that are commonly stocked with individually packaged products. You’ll often see them full of candy other small products that provoke impulse buys.

A great advantage of dump bins is that they are standalone displays, and can be strategically placed to be seen or interacted with from all angles. They are also usually made out of cardboard or are otherwise customizable, so bins are not only a great opportunity to get creative with how you project your brand’s image, but they’re also easy for your field team or distributor to ship and set up..



Freestanding Displays

Freestanding displays are similar to dump bins in that they are also standalone displays and can be interacted with from 360 degrees. That being said, they are more organized in appearance than dump bins, and often neatly display slightly larger products on shelves or hooks. Like dump bins, freestanding displays are also commonly made out of cardboard, so they are a great chance to experiment with some attention-grabbing shapes or designs.


Entryway Displays

Displaying your products near entryways can put your brand at the top of shoppers' lists before they even see your competitors. Entryway displays are effective at encouraging impulse buys, as customers at the beginning of their shopping trip are entering the store ready to spend money. If you’re lucky enough to be in a place with nice weather, setting up an outdoor entryway display is a great way to catch shoppers’ attention before they even get inside.




Gondola Displays

Gondolas are two-sided, standalone shelving units that also appear in larger, more open areas of a store. They have adjustable shelves, which makes them customizable to accommodate different sized products. While they typically are made with steel frames and pegboard, there are options for brands to promote their product through graphics and an attractive color scheme.



Display Cases

Retail display cases are a type of standalone display that is closed in on all sides by glass or clear plastic. To access the products, shoppers may have to speak to a store associate to retrieve the item from the case for them. Other times, if the case is serving an ornamental purpose, shoppers can find the product on its home shelf. Because of their security, higher-end products will often find their way into these displays.

Brands can design unique cases by displaying their product in a nontraditional way. For example, if you are selling perfume or lotion, including objects that represent the fragrance of your product will present an aesthetic that is simultaneously attractive and informative to the shopper.


Window Displays

Window displays, also known as window dressings, are exactly what they sound like — product displays that are set up in the window of a retailer. These displays are extremely lucrative as they represent the retailer and can be the deciding factor on whether a shopper enters the store in the first place. If given the opportunity to occupy a window display for your product, it is imperative to create a visually appealing design that will positively represent your product and the retailer.

Banner Stands

Banner stands are standalone signage that brands can place throughout the store to feature their product or announce a promotion. Banner stands are inexpensive, mobile, and effectively catch shoppers’ attention. When creating a banner stand, always remember that less is more — you don’t want to overwhelm the shopper, so avoid using too many colors or providing more written information than what the shopper would be willing to read. If your banner stand is not located next to your product, you can include a message within the graphic on where it can be found in the store.


Retail Shelving Display: Explanation and Examples

Shelving displays are any type of display that exists on a traditional store shelf. They utilize the space provided by these shelving units to showcase products, feature signage, and interact with shoppers.

End Cap Displays

End cap displays are the shelves at the end of a two-sided retail shelf which the shopper passes by when going from one aisle to another. Like free standing displays, end caps allow you to place your product in relevant areas beyond typical aisle shelf space. They also give you a prime location to attract a lot of eyes — shoppers walking through action alley can see your products without even going down the aisle, giving you a major advantage over your competitors.




Shelf Talkers

Shelf talkers, also known as “hang-tags,” are the promotional signage you see sticking out perpendicularly to aisle shelves. They’re useful for making your brand stand out within the aisle, educating the buyer about the product, and guiding the customer directly to your shelf. Shelf talkers are also great for pointing out promotions or sales. When designing a shelf talker, it is good practice to use colors and messaging that are very similar to the packaging of your product. This way, it is easy for the shopper to make an association with your product and the sign.

Clip Strips

Clip strips are long, vertically hanging strips with hooks that are ideal for holding small products. Using clip strips gives you a chance to get your products on shelves beyond your primary placement, or simply to add a few extra facings to the SKUs you already have. They are ideal for cross-merchandising, as you can set up a clip strip display of chips next to salsa, or lip balm next to other cosmetics.


Header Cards

These signs usually appear on the shelf tag, next to a product’s price. Header cards can help differentiate your brand from similar items nearby on the shelf. Similar to shelf talkers, brands can use these cards to educate the buyer, point out promotions, or even suggest a way to use the product. This small shelf display can go a long way, as the shopper sees the information you provide on the card as they are checking the price. With the right messaging, you can convince shoppers to go with your product over your competitor’s.


Clothing Display: Explanation and Examples

While clothing displays sometimes use similar components as CPG displays, there are some key differences between creating displays for apparel merchandising as opposed to something like grocery merchandising.

Garment Racks

Garment racks are one of the most common types of clothing displays. Still, not all garment racks are the same — some are circular, some have multiple levels to hang items on, and some include shelves with them as well. Additionally, merchandisers don’t just toss the product onto the shelf and walk away. There are many ways to organize clothing on a garment rack to capture a shopper’s attention.

For example, grouping items by color is visually appealing and also makes it easy for the buyer to see their options. If you are working with tiered racks, cross merchandising garments will give the shopper an idea of the outfit they can put together with your products.



Display Tables

Display tables are also a very common clothing display, likely due to their versatility. Display tables can host a myriad of products, from apparel to accessories to jewelry. One benefit of display tables is the amount of room they provide for merchandisers to get creative. Create themes around your brand, the season, or holidays by incorporating signage and decorative elements.




Mannequins are the embodiment of visual merchandising. They display products in a context that gives the shopper a clear visual of the product in use. To capitalize on this visualization, merchandisers should use the best of their products to create trendy outfits shoppers will want to wear themselves. Mannequins definitely promote impulse buys as they showcase to the shopper multiple items that they may not have been shopping for in the first place. Thus, be sure to have your products nearby, as there is nothing worse than missing out on a sale because the shopper couldn’t locate your product.



Retail Display Best Practices

Designing and implementing retail displays is hard work, but the potential return on investment is well worth it. From shelf talkers to gondolas to mannequins, deciding which retail display is best for your product might seem daunting, so here are a few best practice takeaways to help you move forward in your visual merchandising strategy:

  • Using creative signage and messaging with your display will get you noticed by the shopper.

  • Endcaps, entryway displays, freestanding displays, and window displays get you more exposure to the shopper.

  • Dump bins, clip strips, and table displays are ideal for displaying smaller products.

  • There are multiple options for improving your product’s shelf presence by using things like shelf talkers and header cards.

  • The effectiveness of a retail display doesn’t rely on how extravagant it is — even the simplest displays can increase sales as long as they are part of a solid visual merchandising strategy.

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Melissa Sonntag

Melissa is a recent graduate of Northeastern University and a content marketing specialist at Repsly, Inc. She is committed to applying her skills in order to bring value to Repsly readers and customers. Outside of work, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, making music, and anything dog-related.

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