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How Point of Sale (POS) Marketing Can Encourage Customers to Return to Stores Post-COVID

As consumers emerge from their pandemic isolation, retailers can use POP marketing to bring online shoppers back into stores.

As COVID-19 abates in the United States, with vaccination rates rising and the CDC easing up its masking guidance, many consumers are eager to return to favorite pre-pandemic activities, including shopping in stores. However, brick-and-mortar retailers have an uphill climb ahead of them as pandemic lockdowns led to a meteoric rise in the (already increasing) popularity of online shopping. Digital Commerce 360 reports that consumers spent $861.12 billion online with US retailers in 2020, a 44 percent increase from the year before. And although shoppers are beginning to venture back inside their favorite stores, many will have changed their consumer behaviors for good. In fact, McKinsey has found that 75 percent of consumers who used digital channels for the first time during the pandemic plan to continue to use them when things return to “normal.”

So, how can franchise and multi-location retailers encourage a return to in-store shopping? The key will be to create an in-store experience that offers value shoppers can’t find online. One of the most powerful tools for creating that value is the point-of-sale (POS) / point-of-purchase (POP) materials such as product displays, shelf-talkers, and in-store signage that creates a vibrant, unique, and sensory customer experience that can’t be replicated on a screen.

Following these three steps, retailers can use POS / POP marketing to create in-store shopping experiences that will drive customers away from their devices and back into stores.

1. Develop Clear Marketing Goals

While the ultimate goal is to persuade customers to make a purchase, one of the unique draws of in-store shopping as opposed to online is that it can become a much broader experience. While online shoppers are often focused on homing in on the products they came for, with tight search parameters and plenty of filters to weed out distractions, in-store shoppers are likely to be open-minded to products they hadn’t considered — all those things they didn’t know they needed. After all, research says six in ten in-store purchases are impulse buys.

So as you develop your in-store marketing goals, consider four potential goals for your marketing materials:

  • Engage shoppers by introducing them to new products, recommending products that go together, and offering surprising experiences that surprise and delight.
  • Inform shoppers about all the ways your products can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems — not to mention the exciting new features that make it possible.
  • Allow shoppers to interact with products in a physical way that’s not possible online. This could be smelling perfume samples, taste-testing food or beverage products, or sitting on furniture to make sure it’s comfortable.
  • Persuade shoppers to make the purchase by offering coupons and incentives or simply showing them the benefits of owning the product.

Each POS / POP marketing piece should be created with one of these goals in mind, and in combination, they should serve to drive customers all the way through the funnel to purchase what they came in for — and maybe something else while they’re at it.

2. Understand the Customer

Any effective marketing campaign is created with the customer’s preferences, needs, and desires in mind, and that goes for the in-store experience, too. From enticing customers to come into the store (ideally through multichannel marketing campaigns that take advantage of all available touchpoints to invite them in) to greeting them with welcoming directional signage and promotional headlines in the parking lot to guiding their shopping experience with in-store displays and closing the deal, the customer’s needs must come first.

So, as you’re crafting the messaging and designing the materials, consider what the customer needs to see, both before and during the shopping trip, to get them excited about an in-store experience. Online shopping is undoubtedly convenient, so how will they benefit from coming into the store? Special in-person discounts or add-ons? Opportunities to try before you buy? And once they’re in the store, how will your products add value to their lives? (Remember, the specifics of the cutting-edge features may not be as enticing to customers as what they can achieve with the product.)

3. Develop Eye-Catching POS Materials for a Unique In-Store Experience

One you’ve established your goals and done a deep dive into what kinds of messaging, experiences, and offers your customers will find most compelling, it’s time to start designing and producing your in-store marketing materials. We wrote extensively about what it takes to create effective POP materials in a recent blog post, but here are the highlights:

  • Create products that are appropriate to your location. Do local ordinances dictate what signage you’re allowed to set up outside? Are you in an industry, such as adult beverages, with state-by-state regulations around advertising? Does your national retail brand have some stores that are large and spacious (and thus perfect for elaborate floor displays) and others with smaller footprints that require more compact advertising? Consider the needs of your location in order to ensure your materials are assets rather than liabilities, and that they can enjoy prime placement right in shoppers’ paths.
  • Balance quality and cost. You’ll want to ensure your materials are created with durability and longevity in mind, so they showcase your offerings in their best light for as long as you need them to. But at the same time, these marketing initiatives can’t cost more than they bring in. Consider material selection, manufacturing techniques, and design complexity to ensure you’re getting the most for your money.
  • Design can’t-miss displays. Follow design best practices for shape, color, and messaging to ensure your materials are eye-catching from the get-go. But beyond that, get creative with placement to engage customers. For example, adding a cash-wrap will encourage those last-minute impulse buys, and suggesting fun and creative pairings (a sprinkles display next to the ice cream freezer; a cocktail recipe posted on the vodka shelf) will inspire buyers to take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities they might not have thought of on their own.

As consumers emerge from their pandemic isolation, they’ll be balancing their desire to resume pre-pandemic activities with the newfound convenience of digital interactions. Savvy retailers will leverage in-store marketing — from product displays to floor stickers to shelf talkers to novelty packaging and beyond — to remind their audiences how powerful the experience of in-store shopping can be.

OneTouchPoint helps companies maximize these experiences by creating effective consumer engagements at every touchpoint, culminating in powerful in-store marketing displays that increase both brand awareness and revenue. With our recent acquisition of Insight Resource Group, a full-service Point of Sale/Display agency headquartered in Lafayette, California, we’re proud to add physical, in-store Point of Sales and experiential solutions to our ability to offer seamless online and offline brand and customer experiences.

We invite you to learn more about these capabilities and the other ways OneTouchPoint helps businesses power brand engagement. Then, when you’re ready, we invite you to request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.

Make Your Brand Stand Out: 6 Secrets to In-Store Marketing

In retail environments, brands have just 3 seconds to make an impression on shoppers. Learn how to make sure your products catch buyers’ eyes.

As consumers, we’ve all been there: staring at a shelf fully stocked with dozens of brands’ variations on the product we’re looking for — whether it’s lightbulbs for the guest bathroom, treats for the pup, or bottles of wine for a friend’s housewarming party. It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? Even if we thought we knew exactly what we wanted, the sheer number of options in front of us gives us pause — and the way the products are merchandised may draw our eyes (and our dollars) to a new brand. In fact, research from the Shop Association reports that consumers are exposed to 3,000 promotional messages per day and a whopping 80,000 items in a given grocery store visit. How do we choose?

And more importantly, how do brands ensure their products are the ones that catch our eyes?

It isn’t easy. The same report finds that a consumer’s decision to stick with their go-to brand or buy from a rival takes, at most, seven seconds — and those competing brands have just three seconds to make an impression.

The key to ensuring your brand stands out from the rest? Powerful point-of-purchase (POP) displays. These are the end caps, shelf talkers, display stands, and other types of signage that highlights a brand’s products in order to sell customers on its benefits and value right there in the store. To ensure your brand’s POP / POS displays make your products stand out among those 80,000 competitors, we recommend following these six steps.

1. Speak to Your Audience’s Needs

Consumers generally aren’t looking for products with certain specs or features; they’re looking for products that solve their problems. Maybe that’s eliminating a pain point or making their lives easier in some way; maybe it’s boosting their self-esteem or impressing others or simply adding joy to their lives. As you create your POP / POS signage, and particularly the messaging it conveys, don’t lead with the latest bells and whistles but with the intangible value your product offers customers.

Additionally, be sure to consider the customer’s entire experience. While, ideally, your target audience is already familiar with your brand from your digital, direct mail and other advertising tactics, the shopping trip offers yet another channel to meet and engage with potential buyers during the customer journey. To make your brand stand out, devise ways to engage with consumers from the parking lot into the shelf with branded signage, POP / POS materials, and product coupons.

2. Design for the Specific Retail Location

When you’re creating display materials for multiple outlets — even multiple locations of the same store — remember that not all retail locations are created equal. Retailers will have different rules and guidelines. These guidelines could be based on space constraints. An elaborate floor display that looks beautiful in a large suburban location is likely to be a tripping hazard in a smaller store tucked into a compact, urban area.

Differing rules may also be driven by local laws. For example, in the adult beverage industry, brands have to ensure their advertising, including their in-store signage, is compliant with regulations around marketing alcohol — and these regulations differ from state to state. A display that passes muster in Texas could cause problems for the brand in California stores.

No matter how beautiful the design or how powerful the message, a store display that isn’t compliant with regulations is simply a waste of money. Consider working with a marketing supply chain partner that’s well-versed in retail parameters and industry regulations to ensure every piece of in-store signage is compliant and display-ready.

3. Keep Longevity in Mind

A torn-up, worn-out display is a turnoff to customers, so as you design your POP/POS signage, do so with durability in mind. Whether it’s a temporary display for the holiday season or a permanent installation, you’ll want to ensure it looks great as long as you need it to. Will it survive transportation and storage in pristine condition? If it’s a product display will it support the weight of the products? Will it withstand in-store traffic, including shopping cart collisions or purse bumps?

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure the display is easy to restock. Shelf-talkers that get in the way of shelf access or endcaps that are too complicated to easily refill may look great at first, but as product dwindles, they may not get refilled as often as necessary, leading to missed sales opportunities. (Remember, too, that if a display is complex to restock, it’s probably hard for shoppers to access as well and they may pass it by.) A durable, easy-to-maintain display will showcase your brand in its best light for a long time.

4. Ensure Prime Placement in Store

The real estate adage, “location, location, location” applies to in-store signage and displays, too. Once you’ve invested in high-quality, beautifully designed marketing materials, it’s important to ensure those materials are displayed where customers will see them. For example, the Shop Association notes that the sweet spot for signage height is between shoppers’ shoulders and knees. A sign that’s close to the floor isn’t likely to be seen, nor is an in-aisle ceiling dangler.

Also consider unexpected places to grab shoppers’ attention. Research says six in ten in-store purchases are impulse buys, so it may pay to place your displays in strategic places to pique those impulses. Place your products near the cash register to inspire last-minute buys, or near items they pair will with to entice customers. (For example, showcase your salsa on the chip aisle or package your spirits with fun bar accessories and coupons for popular mixers.)

(Note: Make that prime placement easier for everyone involved by ensuring your signage is delivered on time and easy to assemble.)

5. Minimize Production Costs

With tight marketing budgets and high ROI expectations, it’s important to ensure the costs of the POP / POS materials don’t outweigh their value. A savvy marketing partner can help find ways to minimize costs without sacrificing quality or effectiveness. Some of the levers you may pull to streamline costs include material selection, manufacturing techniques and complexity of design. Choosing a partner that gangs orders through “buy windows” and has a proven network of production facilities helps maximize economies of scale, saves costs, and minimizes risk. Knock-down displays — the kind that are shipped disassembled or flat and popped up in store — can save significant costs on packaging and transportation. The more creative you and your partner can be about design, materials, shipping, and ordering windows — without sacrificing quality — the more valuable in-store marketing will be for your brand.

6. Follow Best Practices for POP Display Design

Finally, to create POP / POS materials with maximum impact, be sure to follow the design best practices that are most likely to catch shoppers’ eyes and encourage them to choose your product. Select bold colors that both showcase your brand and evoke the feelings (comfort, safety, impulsiveness, etc.) you want buyers to feel. Select unique shapes that will stand out on shelves and against other displays, and ensure any interactive elements are intuitive for shoppers. Keep your messaging clear, simple, and easy to digest — and be sure your brand logo is on full display. Above all, keep the audience’s needs and experience at the forefront of the design process.

When it comes to in-store marketing, there’s a lot of competition and a lot to consider. Marketers are competing for mindshare, loyalty, and wallet share in every interaction with potential customers, and retail is the point at which a product is connected to every other aspect of a brand’s marketing strategy. OneTouchPoint helps companies maximize these consumer engagements at every touchpoint, culminating in powerful in-store marketing displays that increase both brand awareness and revenue. With our recent acquisition of Insight Resource Group, a full-service Point of Sale/Display agency with more than 20 years of experience in the alcohol and beverage space and headquartered in Lafayette, California, we’re proud to add physical, in-store Point of Sale and experiential solutions to our ability to offer seamless online and offline brand and customer experiences.

We invite you to learn more about these capabilities and the other ways OneTouchPoint helps businesses power brand engagement. Reach out to request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.

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