The Ultimate Guide to Point of Purchase (POP) Displays

The Ultimate Guide to Point of Purchase (POP) Displays

The point of purchase, or POP, is any part of a store where a customer engages with your product. POP displays themselves are displays that exist separate from the standard aisle shelf, effectively inserting a product into a shopper’s path through the store. Incorporating POP displays into your retail execution strategy enables memorable interactions between shoppers and your products that otherwise wouldn’t occur, and gives your product the opportunity to stand out among the competition.

In this post, we will first give a brief overview of what POP displays are, how POP displays differ from POS displays, and the benefits of including them in a retail execution strategy. We will then go into detail on guidelines for implementing the right POP display for your product, followed by different examples to help you get started.


What Is a Point of Purchase Display?

A POP display exists separately from traditional aisle shelves in order to provide extra facings and more exposure for a product. 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.



There are many benefits to utilizing POP displays. First, they remove your product from the clutter of your home aisle and spotlight it in a way that prevents “analysis paralysis” — the feeling a shopper gets when the options they have are overwhelming. POP displays also provide you with more facings, which ultimately increases the likelihood a shopper will choose your product over a competitor’s.

Additionally, POP displays are extremely versatile and come in many shapes and sizes. Many types of POP displays can be set up in one retailer for a period of time and then easily be broken down and reassembled in another.

They’re also more customizable than your standard store shelf.. This means brands can design them to coordinate with a promotion, a season, or a holiday. There is no limit on creativity when it comes to POP displays, which you’ll see later in the examples section of this post.


What Is the Difference Between POP and POS?

While POP and POS are similar, understanding the difference is important when deciding which to use to display your product. POS stands for “point of sale,” and both POP displays and POS displays serve the purpose of drawing extra attention to your brand. The difference between the two is that while POP displays can occupy floor space throughout the retailer, POS refers solely to the area near the register where the actual sale of the product happens.



Common POS displays include the magazine racks and shelves of candy leading up to the register, or the refrigerated displays at the end of the checkout lane. Usually, individually packaged products such as confectionaries and beverages fare the best in these locations, provoking last-minute impulse buys as the customer finishes up their shopping trip. Brands with smaller products that might not always be at the top of a customer’s shopping list should definitely consider investing in POS displays.


Guidelines for Implementing POP Displays

So now that you are ready to put a POP display into action, there are a few guidelines to follow before committing to a strategy and following through with it. We've outlined below three questions to ask and answer when planning to incorporate POP displays into your retail execution strategy.


"What is my intent with this display?”

The first question to ask yourself is, “what is my intent with this display?” For example, if you are planning to roll out a “buy one, get one” deal or a bundle pack of your product, the intent of the display should be to communicate the promotion to the shopper. This is often done through signage, so selecting a POP display that provides surface area for a promotional design is the top priority.


“Who is my audience for this display?” 

Another question to ask yourself is, “who is my audience for this display?” The answer to this depends on a variety of factors — the type of retailer the display will appear in, where within the retailer the display will go, and your target demographic.

If your POP display is going in a convenience store instead of a grocer, this affects both who the buyer is as well as their reason for shopping in that location. A shopper in a grocery store with the goal of purchasing a large quantity of products would be more likely to encounter your product while browsing shelves than a shopper that is only intending to purchase an item or two in a convenience store.


"What will be the location of my POP display?"

Considering the type of retailer is also important to answering the question, “what will be the location of my POP display?” Going back to the example of the grocery vs. the convenience store, it would be best to score floor space near the front of a convenience store, since the convenience store shopper is less likely to browse the entire retailer than the grocery store shopper.

Another reason location matters is that if the retailer your display is going in has limited space, you wouldn’t want to use a massive display that would obstruct the aisle. Likewise, if the retailer is sizable with ample floor space, choosing a small display might cause your product to get lost in the crowd.

After determining the answers to the above questions, you will also have to consider where to purchase your POP display. While there are countless online retailers to choose from, not all are created equal. Some sell plain displays with no customizations — others allow you to design the display entirely online. Additionally, there are retailers that specialize in cardboard displays while others sell displays made out of more durable material. Be sure to assess your different options and make an informed decision.


POP Display Examples


Gondola Display

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.



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 Display

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.

This free standing Stella Artois display is a fantastic example of the ingenuity and versatility brands can capitalize on when figuring out what type of display will be most effective for both grabbing attention, creating buzz around a product, and increasing impulse buys. 



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.



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.



Endcap Displays

End caps, as you probably inferred from the name, are displays that are placed at the end of an aisle where two aisle shelves sit back-to-back. Like free standing displays, end caps allow you to place your product in relevant areas without needing aisle shelf space. They also give you a prime location to attract a lot of eyes -- shoppers can see your display without even going down the aisle.



Best Practices for Point of Purchase Displays

From banner stands to gondolas to display cases, the return on investment a brand can generate from proper POP display implementation is well worth it. As a quick refresher, we’ve compiled these best practices as key takeaways from this post to help you move forward with your POP-focused retail execution strategy:

  • The point of purchase is anywhere in the store a customer interacts with a product; the point of sale is where the actual transaction occurs.

  • POP displays are versatile, create more facings for your product, and save the shopper from “analysis paralysis.”

  • Deciding on a POP display should be based on the audience, retailer, and location of the display.

  • Not all POP displays are created equal, so be sure to invest in one that will achieve the specific goals of your retail execution 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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