Point-of-Purchase Displays Rocket Sales

Whatever your package looks like, you can really crank up your sales with point-of-purchase (POP) merchandising. There are many point-of-purchase alternatives, including posters, tent cards, buttons, and stickers, but I find that dumps and prepacks are by far the best bet.

Point-of-Purchase Displays

One of the best investments of your marketing dollars that you can make is in point-of-purchase displays. These displays allow you to dramatically increase the impact of your product at the moment it counts most—at purchase time. Of course, such displays are most effective for impulse items or items for which consumers do not have brand loyalty.

Large displays set up in prominent locations in high-traffic supermarkets have been shown to increase the rate of sales by as much as 64-fold over the same items sold from their regular shelf locations. My experience, however, shows that more common sales increases are from one-and-a-half to threefold.

In many industries, larger retailers create what is called a plan-o-gram, carefully deciding which displays are authorized to go into every last inch of the store. Then they typically charge manufacturers a large fee to set up any kind of point-of-purchase display. As the manufacturer, you need to pay this placement fee, in addition to paying for and shipping the displays. If that’s not enough, the store might insist on a special deep discount as well!

Some store managers of national retail chains make their own decisions as to what displays they will accommodate on their floors, even if you have an agreement with the national office that is backed by cash incentives and guarantees a full chain display program. When you do manage to get display exposure, merchants prefer to keep displays up for short periods of time to keep their merchandise mix fresh and appealing to consumers.

All this might sound ridiculous, but it could be totally worthwhile if your product will sell through really well, and especially if the store will be so impressed that they will consider stocking your product in larger than usual quantities once the point-of-purchase displays come down. However, it is typically a challenge for a new vendor to get prominent displays included in a retailer’s national plan-o-gram.

What Are “Dumps” and How Can They Help My POP Displays?

Floor displays, commonly referred to as dumps, are perhaps the most powerful point-of-purchase marketing tool that you can develop. They are most effective when placed at the front of the store. This location guarantees viewing by the maximum number of visiting consumers.

This type of display is often fabricated out of cardstock, but it can be very expensive to manufacture, especially if you make them in small quantities because of the upfront tooling costs. So unless your product is hot, retailers aren’t going to order enough to justify dumps.

Typically, merchants reserve the display of dumps for their top brands and fastest selling promotions. It is typically very difficult for a newcomer to get stores to set up their floor displays.

Counter Displays

Counter displays are sometimes called “prepacks” when the display also serves double duty as a counter item. Merchants generally use counter displays for low-priced items that consumers might decide to purchase on impulse while they are waiting for sales assistance or standing at the cash register. Small novelty items are ideal for counter displays.

Counter displays need to be attractive, cute, and even whimsical. They also need to be conservative in space requirements and height so as not to obstruct the line of vision between the salesclerk and the customer.


Posters are the least inspiring point-of-purchase display vehicle when used to attract consumers to products they were not previously aware of. But they can be very effective in pulling in customers to purchase a product they have some knowledge of—perhaps through an extensive advertising or publicity campaign. However, I have talked to retailers who tell me they throw out almost all of the posters sent to them by their suppliers.

Shelf Talkers

Shelf talkers are signs that appear alongside a given item on the shelf. They can be very effective and, best of all, cost relatively little to produce. They require short, brief copy that can really grab a consumer’s attention.

Takeaways You Can Use

  • Floor displays are the most powerful point-of-purchase item you can develop.    
  • Small novelty items are ideal for counter displays—think cute and whimsical.
  • Posters generally only work for products that customers already know about.
  • Shelf talkers can be effective and relatively inexpensive.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.