I was at the checkout counter in an independent hardware store a few weeks ago, and right in front of me was a power tool on sale for just under $50. During another outing at a wine shop a few weeks later, I saw three different $30 Syrah wines on the counter with a sign that read “Try something new.”
“Geez,” I thought, “how many retailers just don’t understand the dynamics of a customer standing at their retail counter?”
Once a customer has ticked off the end of his or her shopping list or the poorly trained employee has said, “Anything else?” the customer is outta there. Customers at the register are not there to browse, not there to have to make a choice and not there to do anything other than pay for their merchandise and get on with their lives.
While true that a counter display that is part of your overall visual merchandising strategy can interrupt that routine and get them to buy—boosting your average check and number of items sold—it must be done thoughtfully. Here are seven tips on creating a good point-of-purchase display that can help build brand awareness, drive more incremental sales and boost profitability.
1. Display one product. You want to get the customer focused on one item. Use point-of-sale data to find a best- selling product customers are already familiar with. The lack of choice makes it an easy yes or no decision for the customer.
2. The featured product should be something everyone can use. The universality of it makes it easy for all customers to just throw it on their tab.
3. Keep the price point less than $20—below $10 is even better. Most customers can drop a $10 bill without noticing. And if you can’t feature product in your store due to state regulations, you can still fill an empty wrapper or bag with stuffing so it looks like the product. (Editor’s note: Some examples may include branded rolling papers or lighters, pre-rolls or grinders.)
4. Establish profit margins that cover shrinkage. If the items can be easily pocketed when a cashier is swamped, like rolling papers or lighters, you need margins to cover those thefts.
5. Keep the counter displays fresh, and change them weekly. Timing is everything, so put your seasonal merchandise out early and sell through it before using a regularly stocked item.
6. Keep the signage short and to the point. It should take no more than seven words to grab a customer’s interest. Like all signs, your goal is to paint a picture. “Almonds make a great afternoon snack!” will tempt someone to purchase them much more than a sign that just reads “2 for $5.”
7. It’s not a clearance aisle. If you are trying to move slow-selling items, the counter is not the place. There’s a reason they didn’t sell in the first place. Stick to displaying items that constantly move.