Beginners Guide to Visual Merchandising: Point-of-Purchase Displays

Creative Displays Now! Beginners Guide

Printed Cardboard Displays for Buho CigarsPoint-of-purchase (POP) displays are powerful marketing tools that set your product apart from the competition and increase sales. These marketing materials are placed on top of or alongside the promoted merchandise in retail stores. Strategically located where consumers’ purchasing decisions are made, POP displays are typically featured in highly-trafficked areas on the sales floor, or near checkout aisles.

POP displays can range from simple signage placed next to merchandise, to full floor displays that shelve the product. Designed to be eye-catching, POP displays capture consumers’ attention when they are in the frame of mind to make purchases.

Table of Contents


Why a POP Display?

The point of purchase is when the key elements of the sale – the motivated consumer, the money, and the product – all align. With POP displays, manufacturers and retailers can influence a consumer’s buying decision during this crucial time. The main purpose of POP displays is to:

  1. Increase Brand Awareness. POP displays serve an important role in highlighting specific merchandise in a store chock-full of products. Instead of being crammed on a shelf with competitors, a product with a POP display stands out from the rest. POP displays can effectively promote new products, or specific product information, such as technological breakthroughs or novel product designs.
  2. Increase Impulse Buying. Consumers typically have a purchasing plan when they enter a store. One goal of POP displays is to encourage customers to deviate from that plan and impulse buy a product. A well-executed POP display can influence consumers to make a last-minute purchasing decision, even if they did not intend on buying the product when entering the store.


Types of POP Displays

All POP display models are intended to increase product awareness and sales, although some displays are better suited for specific circumstances or products. The type of display you should use will depend on the:

  • Product type, including its packaging, size and price point
  • Retail environment, such as grocery store, warehouse, or boutique
  • Specific purpose, like brand awareness or impulse purchases

The most common display types and their intended purposes include: floor displays, counter top displays, pallet displays, end cap displays, power wing displays, dump bins and inline displays. The section below reviews each of these displays types in depth, so you are better prepared for your next POP display project. The types of POP displays are:


Merchandising Floor DisplayFloor Displays

Floor displays are freestanding units that can be placed anywhere on the retail floor (as permitted by the retailer). These displays are visually appealing, featuring striking graphics, structural creativity, and other design elements to make the display as prominent and attractive as possible. Coming in a virtually limitless range of shapes and sizes, floor displays can be customized to meet highly-specific branding and marketing goals. While a display can be structured in all manners of design, there are a few typical types:

    • Shelves – Also called shelf displays, these are designed much like a bookshelf. Shelf displays are ideal for boxed items, or other products that are uniformly-shaped and slot neatly on shelves.
    • Peg hooks – These displays have peg hooks that hang products. Goods packaged with hang tabs, like gift cards, are suitable for peg hook displays.
    • Case stackers – These displays are for bigger and heavier items that stack on each other. Case stacker displays wrap around the product emblazoned with messaging and imagery for additional marketing power. Boxed items that are too heavy to be supported by corrugated shelves – like soda or beer cases – are often used on case stackers.


Custom Countertop DisplayCountertop Displays

Countertop displays are moveable display units that rest on flat surfaces, such as table tops or checkout counters. These displays are most effective in:

    • Promoting impulse purchases – Especially when placed at the checkout counter, customers have an opportunity to add last-second items into the shopping cart.
    • Promoting smaller items – Countertop displays have less real estate for promoting items, making them a good space for smaller merchandise, like sweets or gift cards.
    • Promoting lower-priced stock – Countertop displays, especially if placed at the checkout counter, sometimes have a lower price point. A low-cost item will make the buying decision easy for the customer, so they are not slowing down the line as they consider the worth of the purchase.

3 Tips on Checkout Displays:

  1. Feature universally appealing items – Products should be useful in most anybody’s life, like chapstick, hand sanitizer and gum.
  2. Showcase hot products – Avoid pushing clearance items up front.
  3. Merchandise should be evident – What the product is and its purpose should be clear to keep the customer moving through the checkout line.


Cardboard Pallet DisplayPallet Displays

Pallet displays are floor displays that sit on a wooden pallet. These are sturdier than standard floor displays. Pallet displays are typically fully-assembled and shipped with the product in retail-ready packaging to reduce logistics coordination. This option means that store personnel only need to forklift the pallet display into position.

Pallet displays are most suitable for:

    • Use in larger retail spaces –  Big box stores, like Costco or Sam’s Club, and grocery stores are ideal for pallet displays. Since these displays are spacious, they require a reasonably large footprint.
    • Moving a high-volume of products – Goods on a pallet display are visible and grabbable from four sides, facilitating a high turnover of product.

Like the look of the pallet display, but need a smaller size? Good news! They come in half or quarter pallets too.


Endcap DisplayEnd Cap Displays

End cap displays are placed at the end of an aisle. This space ensures maximum product viability and is a high conversion point for customers, who usually do not go down each aisle. End cap displays does not have a specific design, but are characterized by their location. Half-pallet displays and standard floor displays can work well as end caps, as well as a shelf display for pre-existing end cap shelving.

Products displayed on end caps should have wide appeal. Perennial favorites, like soda or chip, make good end cap products. End cap promotion can boost sales for seasonal items, such as back-to-school supplies in the fall or fans during the summer.

Providing free food samples is usually an end cap activity, and new products may be featured on end caps for improved brand exposure.


Sidekick Power Wing Retail DisplayPower Wing (Sidekick Displays)

These small, lightweight displays are usually attached to end cap displays. Power wing displays are a safe bet for easily-recognizable products that are add-ons for products featured at an end cap.

A sound strategy, for example, would be to have a power wing with batteries for an end cap that contains electronics requiring batteries.

Sidekick displays are usually pre-loaded with product to make them easy to setup at the retail store.

Common items used in a power wing display (side kick display):

  • Small electronics
  • Pharmacy products
  • Small beverages/samples
  • Cosmetic or hair care products


Cardboard Bin DisplayDump Bins

As the name implies, dump bins are large containers that products can be dropped into and easily grabbed. This display works with goods that are long, oddly-shaped or have little to no primary packaging. As a more durable display solution, dump bins can contain heavier items too.

Some helpful guidelines for dump bins include:

    • Dump bins are typically larger, so extra space is required.
    • Take advantage of the bin size and use large fonts and imagery to attract customers to the product.
    • Inserts can attractively divide the contents by color, flavor, or other factors.
    • As an easy-to-move display, dump bins are good for excess stock.


Inline Shelf DisplayInline Displays

Floor displays are not always possible given the limited space in certain retail settings. In such instances, an inline display is a reliable alternative to promote your product. While off-shelf displays are proven to sell more products, shelf displays can set your product apart, or provide product information.

When working with inline displays, be sure to keep in mind:

    • The height and width of the shelf – Make sure the display adheres to the shelving units at the store. Creating a shelving display with dimensions that can be placed in most store shelves is helpful.
    • Consider the placement of the display –  A display at torso or eye level will be fully visible, but a lower-placed display will not be as easily seen.


Designing & Printing Displays

As a leader in display units for over 50 years, Creative Displays Now can provide top-notch consulting to ensure your display effectively promotes your product. Our experienced structural design team will take into consideration your product details, branding objectives, and the retail environment.

Our team can ensure your messaging and imagery – the most important elements of a POP display – have maximum impact. Additionally, our high-quality printing options ensure that your images, logos or text stand out beautifully. At Creative Displays Now, all of your printing and manufacturing display needs are conveniently done under one roof.

There are three printing methods to achieve the look you want: lithographic, flexographic, and digital printing


For vibrant colors and photo-realism, lithographic printing is the way to go. The process involves printing directly onto paper and laminating the sheet to the corrugate board. The end result is a display with realistic pictures and a sleek, glossy appearance.


Flexographic is best for displays featuring simple logo or artwork. Since this process involves printing directly onto the corrugated board, flexographic printing is a quicker and more cost-effective method than the two-step process of lithographic printing. Something to keep in mind is that flexographic printing generally does not work well with a wide palette of colors. As such, a limited color selection of 1 to 3 colors is recommended.

Flexographic printing can be done on kraft (brown) or white corrugated board, although white is recommended. A white background ensures that the hues fully and accurately come through on the substrate. Printing on kraft will subdue the colors, although this effect may be helpful for certain industries. Colored printing on kraft can produce an eco-friendly or natural look that may align with imaging goals for organizations in green or health-related sectors.

Digital Printing

Digital printing involves applying full color prints directly onto corrugated board with a toner or liquid ink jet. This is an economical printing choice, particularly for low-quantity print runs, since there are no tooling fees for creating a printing plate (unlike lithographic or flexographic printing). This streamlined process also means quicker turnaround times, and an easier on-the-fly customization if designs need to be changed.

Shipping the Displays

As your one-stop-shop for displays, Creative Displays Now can manufacture and then ship out units to retail stores. We strive to make the assembly and shipping process seemless, so your units can easily be propped up and displayed as intended. All of our displays come with detailed instructions for quick assembly at retail centers. Alternatively, we can assemble and pack products onto displays, making them floor-ready for when they arrive at their destination.