On an impulse: point-of-sale
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By Morwenna Kearns
27 April 2012
While printed POS is still a valuable industry, more retailers are complementing their displays with digital signage from providers such as Amscreen
So the UK is officially in recession again. No wonder, then, that companies like UK POS are urging retailers to wring every last drop of marketing potential out of their point-of-sale displays to grab the attention of dwindling numbers of shoppers. The impulse to buy once inside a shop is pretty well understood, but POS material designed and positioned to catch the eye of those walking past is becoming ever more important in the effort to bring in customers.
The market is supported by trade association Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI), and celebrated each year with its awards scheme (the deadline for this year's entries is May 4th). Last year's entries demonstrated the variety of design in the sector, from functional displays that doubled up as shelving units and dump bins for the products they promoted, to interactive offerings with digital screens, to purely visual ad graphics. All but one of the POPAI Awards categories require entries to have been created in runs of 50 or more, tying in with the consumer psychology that people feel more comfortable in familiar surroundings and are therefore more likely to buy. The same POS display in every branch of a nation-wide chain with the same branding and colours will aid that familiarity, but their design still needs to be inviting enough in the first place.
Moreover, there is a certain impact that may be created by one-off displays, designed to meet the needs of specific retail environments, perhaps at destination shopping sites or pop-up shops in department stores. POPAI supports this with a separate awards category for projects with runs of under 50, and specifies that trials of full roll-outs will not be accepted.
Elsewhere, the POPAI Awards demonstrate how the market is changing. Two new categories are included in the 2012 scheme, the first being Multichannel and Campaign, which shows how traditional POS is increasingly being combined with other in-store elements such as audio, experiential, mobile and social media, ambient media, leaflets and magazines, and samples. New Media is another new prize and is open to POS producers who have integrated digital signage, augmented reality, Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, QR codes, or coupons and mobile commerce into their displays. There's been some debate over the longevity of QR code marketing and similar technology near field communications, but there's evidence to suggest the added value consumers get from POS campaigns that link to their smartphones is beneficial to the advertiser. Video game The Witcher 2 attracted the smartphone readers of more than 100,000 people prior to its launch last summer with a QR code-integrated POS and flyer campaign, according to its QR code solution provider Mobile Tag.
Indeed, the POS market has been pushed forward in recent years with the introduction of digital technology. Small digital screens at the tills in some Co-operative supermarkets encourage shoppers to buy a lottery ticket while paying for their purchases, for example, while the hyper-localised content on Amscreen's digital signage network advertises deals and events to consumers in specific areas of the country. But things are getting more sophisticated with the introduction of transparent digital displays such as the Transparent Showcase from Crystal Display Systems and Stratacache's PrimaSee which allow, for example, an advert for ice-cream to be shown on the doors of supermarket freezer cabinets while still revealing the tasty iced treats inside. Stratacache's translucent product has recently been launched in the form of a vending machine cover, an ideal site for POS advertising.
Digital signage providers give many reasons for why electronic displays are perfect for POS, including the ability to update content quickly and remotely, allowing retailers to target local communities – or even various demographics with face recognition technology – and the reduced amount of waste. While display producers are getting much better at addressing their responsibility to recycle, retailers have a long way to go, according to some sources.
Even the more traditional POS stands are given a digital helping hand with software such as EskoArtwork's ArtiosCAD, which offers a tab and slot assembly tool with 3D visuals to allow designers to see clearly how the pieces will fit together. But the striking and colourful freestanding POS displays that are the bread and butter of many wide-format printers will continue to hold their own, especially with developments in white ink and so on. This year's POPAI Awards are sure to demonstrate this market is booming, but with a few futuristic surprises.
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