Presentation Techniques

Presentation Techniques

Every display method a retailer uses for his merchandise has its benefits and drawbacks. When choosing a type of display, one should consider if the display works for the type of store layout and the kind of environment you’ve created for the shopping experience.

Let’s look at each type now and determine where it will succeed and where it might fail.

End Caps

End caps are very successful in grid layouts. Grocery stores and big box retailers use end caps to promote brands and celebrate seasons in their stores. They’re eye catching, and the space is easily “leased” to manufacturers that want to promote their brand.

The drawback of an end cap is its ability to be seen. If aisles end too close to a wall, the end cap may make walking space too narrow. And depending on where the aisle ends, the shopper may not even turn toward it as she follows her traffic flow path through the store.

Window Displays

Probably the most fun a merchandiser will have is creating a window display—it’s artistic and expressive and fun, and retailers can leverage your window space to tell outsiders what they can expect in their stores. Funky and hip? Serious and elegant? Your store window starts telling the story of the shopper’s experience before she’s even inside.

The drawback is that your window display, while taking up quite a bit of square footage at times, doesn’t always move product. The mannequin that wears a pink sweater might attract the shopper to come in the door, but because the product can’t be displayed adjacent to the mannequin in the window (and shoppers can’t go in there and browse), it’s not always going to sell your merchandise directly.

Promotional Aisles

This is the space you trip over when you walk into Target or Meijer, that little cove of space they didn’t know what else to do with. They filled it with junky stuff and put a bunch of bright colored signs up so the customer can shop it and get excited over the big values he’s finding. People often come just to shop these areas—they need trinkets for an event or they want to buy the kids something fun. They can be a draw for a shopper all by themselves.

The drawback of the promotional aisle is that it doesn’t really work for every kind of retailer. Target can use it well, but a Chanel store isn’t going to have one of these types of displays. And not every retailer wants to convey “cheap fun” as a part of their brand statement.

In-aisle Promotions

A store with a grid layout will almost always use an in-aisle promotion. Why is that? Well, grid layouts are for stores that carry a lot of product, so if a retailer is doing a sale they’re not going to be able to give every sale item its own display. Shelf tags and shelf talkers are a great alternative, drawing attention as the shopper browses.

The drawback of this display is that it’s not really a display, and therefore not as visible as the other types we’re talking about here. And, of course, if the store isn’t a grid (or at least a mixed) layout, it’s a bit harder to execute—but not entirely impossible.


Shippers are great little attention getters in a wide aisle, as they’re usually colorful and eye-catching, and stocked full of something the shopper didn’t know he wanted. Because you can put them right in a common traffic flow path, they’re always going to act like a “speed bump” and slow shoppers down to take a look.

The drawback of this kind of display is that it’s cheap. Shippers are usually made of cardboard and shipped flat, and, after a team member struggles for an hour or two trying to get it all put together, they sit out where they’re touched, bumped, and abused by customers. You’ll never see these in a higher-end store (unless it’s a high-end shipper!) On top of that, they take up valuable aisle space, which a small retailer might not have to give.

Dump Bins

Dump bins scream “find deeply discounted items here!” The shopper understands that some amount of effort will need to be spent to find the right size, the right color, the right title, but she dives in willingly, because it’s part of the game. We are reminded again and again that shopping is an experience, and the dump bin is a discount experience all its own.

The drawback is that this type of display implies discount . . . and not necessarily quality. Higher-end stores may not want to move in that direction because they don’t want to send that kind of message to their shoppers – even if they have a product that would work in a dump bin. Also, dump bins take up a lot of aisle space too, so, like shippers, they may not work for a smaller store.

Point of Sale/Point of Purchase Displays

Point of sale displays get shoppers with that last little item they didn’t know they wanted or needed. Whether it’s a pack of gum or a cooking magazine, retailers get one more opportunity to add to the final ticket.

Even in its drawbacks there are pluses. Moms have forever complained about candy in the checkout aisles at the grocery store, but that gave grocery stores the opportunity to offer something to Moms by having a couple of “candy free” check out aisles. Few retailers miss the opportunity to do this. Those that do . . . and Apple comes to mind . . . are offering a different kind of check-out experience.