A Complete Guide to Point of Purchase Displays

7 minutes
Katie Kochelek
Frank Mayer x Nespresso

A Complete Guide to Point of Purchase Displays

7 minutes
Katie Kochelek
Frank Mayer x Nespresso

Brands must rely on many marketing tools to promote new products and drive sales. Campaigns are often composed of traditional advertising, social media, digital marketing, and countless niche avenues to educate shoppers and drum up interest.

But knowing that 82 percent of shoppers are more inclined to purchase after seeing, holding, or demoing a product, brands are also wise to include in-store efforts in their strategies, as well.

Enter point of purchase displays. POP displays are a category of retail marketing that helps brands and retailers advertise products and influence purchasing decisions. Often custom, they can range from plastic countertop merchandisers near the register to large, freestanding displays on an aisle end cap – and anything in between.

Different types of retail displays serve unique functions, so we’ve compiled a short list of the most popular point of purchase displays and outline the advantages of each.

End Cap Displays

End cap displays are located at the end of an aisle, facing a highly trafficked walkway in a store. Understandably, this area is prime real estate because products benefit from increased exposure and a lift in sales here.

These displays can be both freestanding as well as fixed to gondolas, so when deciding on an end cap solution, recognize what options are available from the retailer. Typically, furniture stores or specialty electronics stores can accommodate freestanding displays, while grocers usually require end cap displays employ their existing fixtures.

Frank Mayer Model Maker Joe Poborsky offers a few points to consider when designing an end cap display.

“If you’re affixing to a gondola, keep in mind the height of your product so your merchandise fits in the designated shelving,” he says. “And if you’re opting for a standalone display, be mindful of stores’ sight line regulations where displays must be under a certain height to help mitigate loss.”

When it comes to retail product displays, end caps are a popular choice because of their premier locations. When designing this type of display, make sure to capitalize on the foot traffic and measure for both increased brand awareness and sales.

Inline Displays

Unlike an end cap display, inline displays are found on an existing shelf in an aisle. They can be temporary or permanent and, like end caps, can stand alone or attach to a store’s existing shelving.

And while individual aisles are less traveled than main thoroughfares, an inline display offers exposure for brands that want their merchandise to stand out amongst competitors in a category.

Because custom retail displays can offer intriguing visuals, interactivity, and information, they differentiate a brand from the others on a shelf.

“In a sea of brand names for lightbulbs, electronics, and more, inline displays cut through the clutter and draw attention to specific companies and products on a shelf,” says Poborsky.

These point of purchase displays also provide good opportunities to utilize media. Motion sensors, aisle violators, and shelf talkers are all interactive tools that capture interest and improve awareness.

Freestanding Displays

A freestanding display is a standalone display that doesn’t attach to store racks. Often, these displays are merchandisers, selling product right from the unit. However, there are also instances of freestanding displays designed to demo products or educate the consumer.

Freestanding displays have impact, so brands invest in them to showcase their merchandise in a fully controlled, branded structure that’s usually placed in prime store locations.

Aesthetic maintenance is important to consider when designing this type of point of purchase display.

For example, Poborsky shares how levelers are used to extend a display’s lifespan and keep the bottom from getting dirty when store associates mop. Similarly, adding features like toe kicks or using dark colors in high-traffic areas will also prevent scuffs, dents, and broken parts.

When determining if a freestanding display is the right avenue for your brand, ask your display manufacturer about temporary and permanent options as well as special design strategies to capture customer interest.

Interactive Displays

Interactive displays are exactly what they sound like – a POP display that has an interactive element built in. This could be anything from simple motion sensors and buttons to video monitors, sound, and other digital effects.

“Any time you have activity, it’s going to draw people in,” Poborsky says. “Adding lights, motion, sound, and video creates that extra interest.”

Digital signage is a good example of this. A Nielson survey once found 68 percent of customers agreed digital signage influenced an in-store buying decision while 44 percent felt it swayed them to buy an advertised product over one they originally intended to purchase.

Building activity into a display also means you’re increasing engagement time with your potential customers, leading to a higher likelihood of a sale.

Some brands even go beyond the basic interactive features and utilize elements like touchscreens, camera analytics, and more to create a high-tech retail display.

“I’d even go so far as to say kiosks and digital signage could be considered types of interactive displays,” Poborsky states. “They’re generating interest and influencing buying decisions which, at the end of the day, is the goal of point of purchase displays.”

Countertop Displays

Counter space is valuable in stores. Not only is it limited, but it’s also a premium location for countertop displays because it’s typically near a cash register where foot traffic is high.

“Some brands choose to manufacture a display that has both a freestanding version as well as a countertop alternative,” Poborsky says. “This gives them options depending on different retailer’s needs.”

The main advantage of building a countertop display is in the pricing. Manufacturing these smaller displays can save in metal or other materials.

“Counter displays are similar to standalone displays in that they can be permanent or temporary and have the same allowances – like being screwed down for stability or outfitted with interactive elements,” Poborsky states.

When designing your next freestanding retail display, assess if a countertop version could also be a beneficial addition to the program.


Anytime a product is sold off a retail display, it’s technically considered a merchandiser.

To sell merchandise from a display, businesses will need to keep in mind a variety of considerations.

“Tailoring a display to best fit the merchandise is important,” Poborsky shares. “Does the product sit flat? Can it be hung? Are items in a blister pack that can be on hooks or a shelf? These are all influencing factors on how a merchandiser is designed.”

In addition, security can play a large role, too. Brands may want to safeguard higher-priced merchandise to deter theft. For this, displays are engineered with cases and locks. But, keep in mind it adds a layer of complexity since purchasing an item will need to involve a retail associate as well as a key for access.

At the end of the day, merchandisers are effective tools to attract attention, educate consumers, and sell products – all in one convenient place.

Temporary Displays

While permanent and semi-permanent displays are designed to hold up for months and years, temporary displays are made to last weeks. Often made of corrugated cardboard, they’re a great option for brands that have shorter marketing timelines for specific products or are using them for seasonal branding.

These displays are perfect for consumer product goods and alcohol – categories that frequently promote new flavors or market around holidays or big events.

Price point is a big advantage for temporary displays since the cost of materials is much cheaper than heavier-duty options. That being said, they’re more susceptible to wear and tear, which is why they don’t stand the test of time.

If brands are looking to have updateable features on their displays but want a more permanent fixture, there are solutions that can be built into longer lasting displays.

“Using aisle violators or magnetic graphics that can be swapped out is always a solution,” Poborsky states.

Final Thoughts

The list of point of purchase displays could go on and on – ceiling halos, digital signage, gravity fed dispensers, and more are additional categories in visual merchandising efforts. When determining what best fits your needs, consult with a reputable retail display manufacturer who can guide you to the right option.

We’ve been manufacturing point of purchase displays for more than 90 years. Take a look at our gallery for a sampling of our programs, then contact us to discuss your next custom display campaign.

Frank Mayer x Nespresso
vitamix end cap display
GE lighting display
Harley-Davidson Bike display
illuminated product display
product displays in retail
Garmin display in a sporting goods store


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