What’s the point of POS?
Traditional cardboard POS displays and dispensers can be fun, whacky, and engaging as these designs show at a graphic designer in Brazil
Why do we enter one particular store for a pair of trousers when there are dozens of similar places selling the same items? Perhaps it is the staff, the location, the range, name, the brand, the prices, and the look and feel of the place. It can even be the smell and general ambience of the store that attracts, while point-of-sale (POS) and in-store graphics can also make a difference. POS material can reflect and enhance the store’s offers and image, which is where sign-makers and graphic designers come in.
Traditionally POS has tended to be constructed out of stiffened cardboard or similar substrates such as foam core that are light and disposable. Promotions tend to be temporary so the box-like dispensers can be moved with ease or thrown out at the end of the promotion. Although these designs continue to have a role, there are an increasing number of options which can attract the attention of shoppers that come under the heading of POS.
POS material can reflect and enhance the store’s offers and image, which is where sign-makers and graphic designers can come in”
But to many retailers it means something else. They consider POS to be POS software solutions that include chip and pin hand-sets, weighing scales, bar code scanners, and touch screens, which all link into the company’s computer system.
The use of digital signage for point-of-sale advertising in on the rise. Pictured: One of Amscreen’s forecourt network
This aspect of the market is an entire industry of its own, but not one I will cover in this feature. POS for the purist is those items of graphics that pitch their benefits at the customer near and around the payment area. They may also be related to in-store graphics and television, internet and magazine advertising campaigns becoming in effect the final link to the sale. Digi boxes, cardboard containers, posters, banners, flags, A-boards, adhesive graphics on walls and windows—the possibilities are endless.
The marketing, communications, and print management firm, the APS Group, based in Stockport, believes POS design is crucial in bringing in repeat footfall to a store.
“With online stores able to give customers everything they could ever need at the touch of a button and all from the comfort of their own home, retailers need to give customers a valid reason to jump off the sofa and come into their stores,” explains Nick Snelson, managing director of APS Group.
He continues: “Retailers must think harder and smarter in order to encourage shoppers to enter the store, make a purchase and, crucially, return again. Once in store, the retailer has the opportunity to offer something unique, as well as increase the likelihood that they will make a purchase or increase their basket size.
“POS communications are a vital part of this. Historically, it has been thought of as printed display messages hanging in store to encourage customers to partake in a ‘too good to be refused’ special offer. Today, however, POS is a lot more complex. It covers everything from printed materials, digital displays, location-based technologies and ‘retailtainment’.”
Here a banner has been used to highlight a seasonal range of goods created using Antalis media for Iceland stores
Indeed, this is very well understood by UK POS, which was established in 1989, and is a family owned business as well as a leading manufacturer and supplier of visual display products in this sector. The firm boasts 500 global brands as customers and operates from state-of-the-art premises in Greater Manchester. A key strength of the manufacturer is its in-house research and development team, and covering a variety of materials from plastics to metal, it stocks more than 25 million items ready to ship.
These certainly are enviable credentials for any supplier to the UK sign industry, and analysing the upcoming trends likely to affect the sector in 2017, the firm advised that with spring and the clock change fast approaching, businesses can expect to see an influx in evening customers. So, it emphasises that sign-makers must urge their customers to ensure their POS reflects the seasonal change to avoid missing key sales.
Contravision created this stunning display using printed film and applying it to the exterior glass frontage of Westfield in London
Indeed, as the much-anticipated lighter evenings and warmer climate arrives, consumer habits start to change. More people will now venture out in the evening to the pub and people start to think about their outside space.
So, with this in mind, UK POS advises: “It is crucial that your business responds to these changes to receive maximum benefits. The lighter evenings thanks to the clock change on March 26th will encourage people to do more with their evenings. One of the most popular options is to head out for some food or a quiet drink.
“Remind your customers to give their indoor and outdoor POS a refresh. Menu holders, snap frames and chalkboards are essentials in any pub, so this is another good revenue stream to tap into. Pavement signs will also help give people that extra push to go out for that Thursday drink, whilst a new café barrier system will encourage some early al fresco dining.”
Five points to remember
Now, returning to APS Group, the company believes there are five key points in designing and creating effective POS. Essential to these are branding and message, creativity, omni-channel connections to smart phones, digital displays, and ‘retailtainment’ as they call ‘creating an attractive shopping experience’.
This new noun of ‘retailtainment’ is all about the message. Be clear about what the objectives of the store or the campaign is all about and how customers will relate to those ideas. Snelson further advises: “Customers are increasingly looking beyond just products and services to see whether your brand is one they want to associate with. It’s crucial you get know what your brand stands for and can articulate it in a concise and meaningful way to your target audiences. Your brand needs to be consistent across all touchpoints in the customer journey.”
POS should start as the customer enters a store with graphics that lead consumers through the store to that all important point of purchase. So as someone approaches a store, the branding outside already announces the core values of the store. Whether it is the humble A-board or a stunning window display there needs to be no doubt about what the store stands for so a potential customer will enter its doors with the aim of buying the products or service. As Snelson explains: “It should incite a call to action, whether that be guiding them to a new product range, or directing them towards online channels. It should also anticipate their needs at that particular point.”
POS begins well before consumers arrive in the store by the use of TV and online advertising, with the messages continuing through smartphones and tablets to remind the customer of the story created by the store. Omni-channel media planning links up the campaign so that by the time the customer reaches the payment point there has been a consistent story ensuring the brand message is not lost.
Box Technologies has produced interactive digital displays with touchscreens allowing customers to further access information while in the store. They also offer ‘retail experiences’ that blend lighting, sound, smell, graphics, and POS display
Snelson comments further: “A customer’s in-store experience must reflect their online experience. Where the brand allows, retailers should explore how in store links to online; this could be in store catwalks, selfie walls or in store competitions, which will bridge the gap between the two worlds of offline and online and engage customers beyond the point of purchase.”
With digital displays, the world of POS has been transformed. Displays can entertain and engage shoppers as they queue up to be served or to pay, while music, announcements, and even smell can confirm the messages screened and consolidate the ‘feel good’ factor for shoppers.
A survey by the APS Group showed three quarters of shoppers engaged more with digital displays than with printed material partly because they can be changed more frequently, contain more information, and they can be altered throughout the day.
Smell the coffee
Pascal Cintract of Airgoo Wireless Media explains how senses can be wooed as part of the POS by smell, although it can go wrong. He says: “We market fragrance for shops under the brand Aromatise. Carefully chosen fragrances create welcoming environments in stores just like people do when they sell a house, they may put on real coffee and bake bread to give that welcoming smell when a buyer comes round. But stores can get it wrong. If the smell is too strong or the wrong kind of smell it will put people off. It happened to me when I went into a show home and I couldn’t stay in the place because of the strong smell and had to leave, so you have to get it right.”
O Factoid: A survey by the ABS Group showed three quarters of shoppers engaged more with digital displays than with printed material. O
Do an online search and there is an overwhelming array of different off the shelf POS and display units available. All colours, shapes, materials, and sizes can be found, but it is important to get the right unit for the right space and business. There is a big difference between super stores where different brands battle to be noticed and unique retail outlets with just one brand. Tony Foster of DS Smith Packaging says: “There are more guidelines now from supermarkets around size, design and form of POS. Because of this, whereas previously the brand owner dictated what was required, brands now have to work harder to be creative within stringent guidelines.”
Chris Peach of Marketing Sciences comments: “The only firm and fast rule is that your POS has to be disruptive, to stand out from the crowd and grab the attention of shoppers who would otherwise wander the aisles on auto-pilot. Within each product category the way that you achieve this will be different. If the packaging in your category tends to be paler, pastel colours, then a bright, bold coloured POS should have impact—but if packs typically use bright and bold colours then unexpected shapes and materials may be the way to go.”
A major POS and in-store graphics display can be expensive to dispose of so keeping it constructed from paper and card means it can be recycled. Antalis says that the average retailer pays around £120 for every tonne of unrecyclable display material that goes into landfill. They cite their new Dispa board which is a cellulose fibre product with an infill core of paper creating a stable and light weight board ideal for temporary signage and POS.
One popular form of POS revolves around the entrance to a business. Whether it means tear drop flags, banners and street signage, or bunting and balloons to attract passing trade and to encourage footfall. All are in the territory of sign-makers eager to help recommend to their clients ways to make their store stand out and attract customers inside. It is important for consistency so that colours and themes blend seamlessly with temporary POS displays and are in keeping with the image the business is trying to project.
The bread and butter of POS work still remains in applications such as hanging boards. This light-weight application for Boots is made from Antlais Dispa board
Cafés and restaurants also increasingly use cordoned of areas marked by soft signage to attract new customers in the summer months, while stores often use powerful blasts of heat by their open doors in winter to entice consumers in. All are helpful in the arsenal of POS and many of these weapons can be supplied by sign-makers eager to gain a foothold in retail chains and ultimately to encourage shoppers to put down their tablets and venture out onto the high street.
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