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As retailers struggle to bring shoppers back to the high street, what can point-of-sale products do to help? Summer Brooks hears from firms that say POS is more important than ever

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As the high street continues to battle against rising online sales, how can POS products entice shoppers back?

A step ahead

In many ways, point-of-sale (POS) products could be compared to visual merchandising – the idea is to draw customers in whatever the product may be. For a struggling British high street, it has never been more important for brands to think about POS, presenting a perfect opportunity for sign-makers to offer this service.

It has been a tough year for retailers on the UK high street. House of Fraser, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin all fell by the wayside last year, whilst many others expressed difficulties hitting profits. Management consultancy firm Altus reported that nearly 400 jobs a day have either been lost or put at risk in retail since Christmas.

POS products can be used on a range of surfaces to draw in consumers

Staff cuts continue to be announced as online shopping and rising rent prices mean that even the biggest companies are struggling. So where could POS signage possibly help? Is it too late for pretty, enticing displays? It is a resounding no from the industry, which says the sector has a lot of life in it yet.

Brett Newman of Hybrid Services, the Mimaki distributor for the UK and Ireland, says the POS market has a lot to offer with recent developments in technology, despite challenges posed on the high street. He comments: “The POS market is very much alive, evolving along with the retail industry, as shops and outlets are setting the bar ever higher to increase the customer in-store experience in order to compete with online shopping.”

Ashley Moscrop, managing director of packaging and display solutions specialist Dufaylite, also says that POS is more important than ever for retail spaces. He adds: “It is without a doubt that in this climate, products are under more pressure than ever to stand out in order to be recognised. 

The POS market will need to move towards shorter runs, focus on more personalised product delivery and become more creative

“In response to this, the POS market will need to move towards shorter runs, focus on more personalised product delivery and become more creative rather than continue to deliver the simple FSDUs (free-standing display unit) by the thousands. To me, there seems to be an increase in POS in store as brands fight for positioning in a diminishing retail space.”

Retailers like Marks & Spencer are increasingly seeking ethically sourced and sustainably produced POS

Wrights Plastics designs and manufactures POS display and point-of-purchase (POP) products directly for brands as well as retail design and shopfitters. Having recently celebrated 50 years in the industry, the firm’s clientele includes Marks & Spencer, Selfridges and Tesco.

Commercial director Andy Watkins says that innovation will keep the sector moving to offer better and more effective solutions. He remarks: “The well-documented state of ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing makes POS a challenging sector. However, these issues are also driving lots of innovation – not just in technology but design innovation, use of new materials and generally a drive towards an enhanced customer experience. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is giving way to often very site specific solutions and we think this will increase in the future.”

Sustainability is key

POS products, unlike fixtures used in visual merchandising, are often only used once and not used again. In an ever-demanding climate where consumers (and businesses) are seeking more sustainable solutions for just about everything, the graphic display and POS sector is one where significant improvements are being made.

Watkins adds: “Clients expect POS to have impact and support the brand experience. Customer experience is the key and our customers challenge us to deliver POS that is an integral part of that experience. And increasingly, reflecting their customers’ concerns, sustainability is important. They are looking for ethically sourced and sustainable POS products and solutions.

“On the design front, there seems to be a move towards a more ‘organic’ look – whether that is a boho or exotic look or a biophilic approach that brings the outdoors inside the sales environment. Colours are trending towards bold and vibrant.

“There is a move towards incorporating different textures. As we mentioned before, sustainability has become increasingly important. New materials such as solid surface are also being used more frequently.”

Moscrop also echoes that sustainability is the key to success in the POS sector, but the changes in retail will see shorter runs, and increased competition to be noticed. “The industry cannot stand still and needs to continue to innovate,” he remarks.

Newman adds: “The growing popularity of online shopping has posed a real problem for traditional, in-store alternatives. However, by pushing the boundaries of POS design and with breakthrough printing technology, such as with the Mimaki UCJV300, print-service-providers (PSPs) can dramatically take the customer shopping experience to a new level.”

A cut above the rest

Investment has been key for Wrights Plastics, which took on a Cutlite Penta Plus LM3020 laser cutter and a Zünd G3 XL-3200 digital cutting system to expand the firm’s service offering as well as improve quality and speed.

“Our retail clients want to give their customers the best experience possible – and that is how we have tried to position ourselves for them,” says Watkins. “We’ve created an end-to-end service where customer support, design and value engineering are as important as fabrication, printing and distribution. We can almost guarantee that every process is carried out in house to help clients save time and costs – and of course hassle. Our investment in delivering this service is as important as our investment in kit.”

Mimaki’s UCJV300 can help sign-makers “push the boundaries of POS”

Newman adds: “The innovative Mimaki UCJV300 series LED UV roll-to-roll printer cutter is an ideal choice for POS applications because of its versatility. It provides high quality print output onto a wide range of substrates and produces stunning textile output for backlit displays and floor graphics as well as staple applications such as posters and stickers.

“Retail customers who they [PSPs/sign-makers] may already be providing front-of-house signage or window graphics for can also be provided with a suite of other POS products, such as vibrant in-store backlit displays.”

Dufaylite produces materials for use in sign and display, as well as offering additional services to POS producers. The firm, based in Cambridge, has three CAD cutting tables and a die press for volume conversion of sheet to save time for companies producing POS. Dufaylite’s product portfolio includes its Ultra Board honeycomb board which is designed for use in creative, retail and display applications. The firm’s Universal range of boards are completely recyclable at the end of use and can be used with both digital and screen printing applications, requiring a low minimum order quantity.

Dufaylite’s managing director Ashley Moscrop

So, how can sign and display companies differentiate themselves in the POS market? Moscrop comments: “Quite simply, it all comes down to creativity and good execution. Everyone remembers and notices a POS unit that is totally different to your bog-standard FSDU. Creations of football stadiums, larger-than-life cans and large 3D animals are becoming more popular and our material is well placed for this. Think outside of the box to make both your POS and product stand out.”

Factoid: In 2017, Britain’s retail sales were worth £95bn (House of Commons Library).O

Watkins asks: “Event-based retail is increasingly important in enticing customers back to the high street so why not make POS an event in itself? Strong concepts and clever designs are probably more important than big budgets and the latest technology in creating POS that makes a huge impact – from window displays to cash desk.”

McDonald’s utilises POS products to support its Monopoly competition, made using board from Dufaylite

So, it would seem there is still money to be made in the world of POS, if your business has the right tools to offer the service. For brands nowadays, they are seeking sustainable solutions that support an environmentally friendly ethos, as it is just not good enough to not seek out the least damaging solution for display and POS.

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