Printer Primer: Choosing the Right Point of Purchase Displays

You want to create a retail display to stops customers in their tracks and inspire a purchase — something with a real “wow!” factor.

At the same time, you probably have budget constraints, design guidelines, and the physical realities of your retail store layouts to contend with.

To achieve the best results, it helps to understand where to begin, the different types of in-store marketing and point-of-purchase displays you can choose from, and when each type will be most effective.

Here’s our introductory guide to help you get started.

The first step in creating successful retail displays

In-store displays are a critical part of any visual merchandising strategy. And successful displays always begin the same way: Clearly defined goals and objectives.

Consider the following questions:

  • Is your display promoting a product, providing information, or part of the in-store décor?
  • Do you need it only temporarily, or will it be a new permanent feature?
  • Where will it be placed, and who are you hoping will see it?
  • What do you want the customer experience to be? Are you targeting an impulse buy? Do you want to offer education or a sample?

Answering these questions will help you articulate the purpose of your display—a critical step in getting the right solution to meet your needs. Share this information with your commercial print partner as early in the process as possible as they can provide expert guidance to help you achieve your goals within budget.

They can also help you create the design and choose materials that will help you meet your sustainability goals.

They may even show you possibilities you never considered.

Here at Imagine, we like to offer our clients a “good, better, best” set of options, providing multiple solutions to any challenge you’re trying to solve—while staying within budget and maximizing efficiency.

But what if you’re not sure how to answer some of those initial questions we posed?

It may help to look more closely at the different types of in-store displays and what they can accomplish.

Pop quiz: What is a retail display or in-store display? How is it different from a POP display?

A retail or in-store display is a physical structure used to promote or sell products in a retail environment. Point-of-purchase or POP displays essentially do the same thing: they are meant to persuade customers to buy, often in high-traffic areas. Point-of-sale or POS displays take it one step further. POS is usually smaller and closest to the checkout register.

These terms are often used interchangeably—but there is a slight nuance!

The pros and cons of temporary retail displays

“Temporary displays” are typically displays that, in general, are designed to last around two or three months.

They may be for holiday or seasonal displays, or they may be just a short-term promotion for a new product or another way to get visibility in a secondary location for a product as part of your visual merchandising strategy.

Temporary displays tend to be lightweight and easy to move, since they’re usually built from materials like corrugated, paperboard, lightweight plastics, or foam core. Many of those materials are also recyclable, which is good news if you’ve got sustainability goals you need to meet (Pro tip: It’s always a good idea to talk to your printer about your green goals before you commit to a substrate).

Another advantage of temporary displays?

They can typically be produced quickly. This can be great if you need to move fast to capitalize on a trend or special opportunity.

Temporary displays tend to cost less than a permanent fixture, which can be good for your budget.

In fact, a good printer will help you maximize value at every step of production. Imagine, for instance, will design temporary displays to fold down into smaller sizes for shipping. This functionality prevents you from paying oversize rates while still getting the display you need.

Temporary displays can’t take too much wear and tear

While temporary retail displays are great for their purpose, you should keep in mind they’re a lot less rugged than their permanent and semi-permanent cousins.

Keep them on the sales floor too long, and the signs of wear and tear will start to be obvious.

This is just as true for short-term displays you bring out year after year.

A Christmas display, for example, might seem temporary since it’s only out for a couple of months. But if you plan to use the same fixture year after year, it probably won’t hold up as well as you’d like.

Pop Quiz: What makes for a good in-store display?

No matter what type of display you choose, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

Use eye-catching creative. Bold colors and vivid visuals can help turn heads and attract customers’ attention to the products you want to sell.

Consider the lighting. Make sure you place the display in an area that is not only highly trafficked but also well lit. Otherwise, that beautiful design will fall flat. Level up with LED strips, neon signage, or a backlit banner.

Revamp the real estate. Ensure you are using every inch of your real estate. What else can you incorporate into the design? Product education, coupons, QR codes—the options are limitless.

Serenade the senses. Visuals matter, of course. But consider splurging on a sensory experience if budget allows. Scent, sound, and touch can go a long way to standing out from the crowd.

Go digital. Looking for a showstopper? Consider including a digital screen to display video, motion graphics, or even an engaging interactive experience.

When to consider permanent retail displays and fixtures

Need a retail display to last six months to a year?

A permanent display is your best option.

This could include displays on the sales floor or store fixtures that act as long-term décor.

Because they’re built to last, permanent displays make good use of durable materials like aluminum, steel, and different varieties of wood. Steel and aluminum are especially great options if you have sustainability goals, as both are highly recyclable.

There are also strategic reasons to opt for a permanent display.

Although temporary displays might be a great choice for a one-off campaign, if your sales strategy requires a recurring or ongoing promotion, a permanent display fixture will likely give you the best results.

Permanent retail displays offer great versatility

Another nice feature of permanent displays is you can build in some flexibility.

For example, you can design a permanent display so it can be regularly re-clad, giving you long-term durability with the option to swap out new signage — the best of both worlds!

Or maybe you’re not thinking about sales floor displays at all.

Maybe you need a solution for covering up register wires or helping customers navigate your store. Permanent displays can be designed for that, too. It’s that versatility that makes it so important to share your goals with your printer.

Types of retail displays and when to use them

There are many types of displays you can choose from, and some will be better than others at helping you achieve your goals. It’s important to talk to your printer about your objectives so they can help you make the best choice and get the most value.

To help you prepare, here are some of the most common retail displays you might use.

Banner stands

While banner stands might not contain physical products, these pull-up signs are an effective way to grab attention and share important information or promotions with your customers.

Case stacker display

Most often used for beverages, this display wraps around cases of soda, water, beer, etc to “dress up” cases of your product with ease.

Checkout display

Designed for those last-minute impulse buys, a checkout display is often a shelf display or counter display that is highly visible with a variety of products to entice a purchase.

Clip strips

Also known as hang strips, clip strips maximize vertical space and display real estate by featuring lightweight items hung on with clips or hooks at regular intervals the strip.

Countertop display

Compact yet powerful, countertop displays do exactly what the name implies: they display key products on top of the checkout counter. Usually small but eye-catching, leverage countertop display for your impulse buy products or to feature new or exciting offerings.

Display cases

Featuring one or more transparent surfaces, display cases are an excellent way to showcase high-value merchandise at eye level.

Dump bin

They may look a little messy, but dump bins get the job done! These are great for small impulse items that can be loosely piled together.

Endcap display

Typically located at the end of a store aisle, endcap displays are highly visible and great for special promotions, impulse items, or discounted products you’re eager to move.

Entryway display

Get attention as soon as your customer walks in the door for critical messaging or top-priority promotions. With a high profile in a high-traffic area, these are ideal for promoting special sales or new products.

Floor stand display

A free-standing display, floor stands get customers attention with graphics and products. Easily moveable, they come in a variety of sizes and configurations to meet any merchandising needs.

Gift card displays

Either a standalone or on a shelf, gift card displays are a good idea to include throughout your retail environment.

Gondola displays

Gondola displays are flexibly designed for quick display, but they typically feature hooks or racks to help organize products in a way dump bins just can’t. Another great option for impulse buys and seasonal items.

Header cards

A great add on to many of these display options, a header card can be used to label merchandise on a display, shelf, or bin. Header cards are a great way to drive visual interest to your product.

In-line displays

Standout in a sea of sameness with in-line displays! Dress up your retail space, increase brand exposure, and educate shoppers on special features or products with in-line displays or retail shelving.

Pallet displays

Simple and effective, pallet displays allow you to wheel in merchandise straight from the truck and set it up on the sales floor. These are a popular option for membership warehouse clubs and other big-box retail environments where shelf space is limited and inventory moves quickly.

POP and POS displays

These versatile displays at your point-of-sale attract attention and can be used to advertise a product, display a menu, or simply serve as a part of your in-store décor.

Shelf talkers

With so many options to choose from, shelf talkers help pull customer attention to one particular product. They’re a great option for grocery stores, but they can be effective in all kinds of applications.


“Signage” is a broad category that can refer to any printed graphics you have on display, from banners to signs to wall graphics.


Shippers are a flexible option that can be placed anywhere in your store. This versatility makes them a great option for special promotions or cross-merchandising.

Window displays

Want to grab the attention of those passersby on the street? Window displays are designed to stop customers in their tracks and bring them into your store. For this reason, you want to make sure whatever you have in a window display is enticing enough to capture attention.

Still not sure what type of in-store displays you need?

We’ve got some great news: You don’t need to be sure to get started!

Even if you’re struggling to clearly identify your goals, it’s never too early to talk to your print partner about your project.

When you work with a partner with expertise in the design, creation, and deployment of both temporary and permanent displays, they can help you determine the best solution for your store, your customer, and your brand.

Do you need help bringing your displays to life? Get in touch with our experts →

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