Woman shopping with mask on near retail display

The Role of Retail Displays During the Pandemic and Beyond

This year’s pandemic has altered everything from the way we work to the way we shop.  Because of this, the retail industry has had to adapt to ensure customers not only feel comfortable entering a store, but that retailers can also execute protocols like social distancing while continuing to make sales.

With COVID-19 heavily impacting retail and the way consumers shop, we break down how retail displays are playing a crucial role during the pandemic as well as how this period will influence display design in the future.

Working Harder to Generate Sales

A recent article on BBC.com entitled, “How Covid-19 will change our shopping habits,” cites a 2019 study by online merchandising company First Insight about the spending habits of consumers in stores versus online.  According to the report that surveyed more than 1,000 US shoppers, “54 percent of consumers spend upwards of $50 online – but that rises to 71 percent when shopping in stores.”

The article continues, “The same report also showed a stark increase in impulse buying when shopping in a physical store.”

This increase in spending can be directly attributed to browsing – something that has taken a hit during the pandemic as shoppers cut back on the length of time they spend in stores.  In fact, as this Forbes article states, stores with capacity restrictions are no longer maximizing dwell time as they try to make room for more customers to enter.

Because of the decrease in dwell time, retail displays will need to work harder to convert shoppers into buyers. This means instead of encouraging discovery of multiple items, brands should consider promoting less SKUs on a display, but with more focused marketing for the items or category of products. Consumers will more easily be able to quickly scan goods versus spending time differentiating between multiple items.

In a time when browsing is limited, smart merchandising displays will continue to highlight products to the public that may otherwise be missed on the shelves.

Retail Displays as Information Hub Spots

Not only is browsing time affected by store capacity restrictions and customers’ comfort levels, but we’ve learned shoppers are less likely to flag store employees for in-store conversations during the pandemic.

Consequently, it’s important that store displays are filling the role of information source when employees can’t be.  When designing a merchandising program, brands and retailers should focus on creating a display that succinctly answers any questions a shopper might have.

There are many options to consider to accomplish this.  A simple idea includes having dummy product available on the display so customers can inspect items up close.

Other examples involve retail technology like video loops or QR codes to deliver a brand message concisely or direct a customer to more information about a product.

However a brand or retailer chooses to target their message to customers, it’s imperative they recognize what questions will ultimately need answering when customers approach their product display.

Simplifying Display Design

To prevent COVID-19 spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging people to avoid close contact. Thus, retailers are requiring more space so patrons can remain socially distant while in store.

As a result, present merchandising displays are bound to stricter footprint guidelines so stores can still accommodate as many shoppers as possible while maintaining the extra space needed to do so safely.  When planning a current display program, brands would be wise to keep displays easy to erect and tear down as well as more compact to safeguard social distancing practices.

Retail Displays of the Future

Not only are displays proving their importance during the pandemic by filling the gaps left by shorter dwell times and less employee interaction, but they’ll continue to stay relevant post-pandemic.

Inarguably, COVID-19 has accelerated e-commerce’s growth over the past year, but retailers should prepare to a return to in-store shopping as the pandemic wanes.  As always the case, items like golf clubs, lawn equipment, sport accessories, and much more can’t simply be set on a shelf in an aisle, but instead require special fixtures and plans to merchandise properly.

Additionally, retail displays will always be crucial to encourage impulse buys as well as educate customers about a brand or item.  And this will be especially important for items that people are less likely to purchase online, such as electronics, home improvement items, and cosmetics.

In short, the need for store displays will remain in demand for the future, much like they’ve been vital to the path-to-purchase in the past.  But, don’t be surprised if they move forward as better versions than before, complete with more targeted marketing, sleeker designs, and utilizing added retail technology features – all things that have proven crucial in 2020.

When COVID-19 cases slow and people return to previous shopping habits, displays will continue to be pertinent.  Refreshing your display look now will instill confidence in consumers as they revisit stores and witness brands looking toward the future.  Check out our gallery of custom merchandising displays, and then contact us to learn more about the solutions we’ll provide for your main objectives.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print