Unplanned purchases account for 70% of all in-store purchases, which makes point-of-sale (POS) marketing an invaluable asset to any merchandising campaign. With a well-designed, attention-grabbing POS installation you can get your product noticed and selling faster for a fraction of the cost of some of the other marketing campaign options available. 

In the guide below, you’ll find information on:

What is POS marketing? 

Let’s first look at the meaning of the abbreviation: POS stands for “point of sale”. POS marketing relates to a type of in-store promotion or marketing campaign, designed to increase the number of purchases at the point of sale. It’s most commonly used in the retail sector but various other industries, such as hospitality, travel and charity also use POS systems to increase the customer spend. 

How successful a point of sale display is, depends on the various factors, including the location where it’s placed, the design, the layout, the colours used and the message displayed. Sales, competitions and new product promotions are all types of campaigns that can benefit from the implementation of a POS display. It’s also a good way to build brand awareness and attract new customers. 

The uplift in sales resulting from a POS marketing campaign is natural and it should feel non-invasive from a customer experience perspective. As a shopper, you expect to see stands with items even at the till up to the very moment you pay. Discovering a good offer or a completely new product that you may be interested in can be helpful at any stage of the shopping process, which is why people are likely to respond well to a point-of-sale display.


What’s the difference between POS and POP? 

We already established that POS means “point of sale”. As for POP, it stands for “point of purchase”. In terms of marketing, both use the same method – placing a well-designed, targeted display with a certain product or promotion in front of the customers in order to catch their attention and lead to a purchase decision. The difference is in the location where the displays are installed. A POS marketing campaign would be targeting the checkout area, whereas a POP marketing campaign would have the display installed in the relevant product aisle or another suitable position in the shop.

To help you visualise this, a new flavour of chewing gum advertised at the till would be a POS display while seeing a huge stack of Celebrations at the very entrance of your local supermarket around Christmas would be an example of a POP display.


POS Display lady shopping

What is the POS marketing target audience?

It’s important to understand what audience a POS marketing campaign is targeting. As the products pushed at the point of sale are mainly low-ticket items and special offers, the target buyers are likely to be people who are prone to impulse buying, who want to save money and who are not loyal to specific brands. 


Impulse buyers

POS sales purchases are usually not planned. Those are the kind of things that weren’t on your shopping list but you still both because you saw them at the till (3 mini Easter bunnies for a pound at checkout, anyone?). POS advertising is eye-catching, so an impulse buyer would feel inclined to grab something along the way if they see a good offer or an interesting new product on their way out. 


Bargain hunters

Price is a big selling point for POS advertising. Very often items placed on POS display are either “on sale”, “promotion”, “multibuy” or even the store’s “product of the week” which is also on offer. Therefore, bargain hunters are a primary target audience for POS marketing.


No brand preferences

POS marketing generally works only for people who are not loyal to a specific brand already. Brand shoppers tend to go for their preferred brand no matter the cost, whereas those who have no particular brand affinity are more likely to give something new a try at the point of discovery if the deal is good.


POS marketing outside shop

Who needs POS marketing?

Point-of-sale marketing is a crucial part of the overall marketing strategy for many businesses across various sectors, including retail, hospitality and non-profit. Below, we’ll take a look at the different types of business that typically use a POS system with examples. 


POS marketing in retail

From your local petrol station selling energy drinks at the till to the supermarket advertising their own-brand, bottom-priced products close to the checkout, retail is the main industry where point-of-sale marketing flourishes. Research has shown that up to 74% of in-store purchases are not planned and with 68% of purchases being attributed to impulse buying, point of sales displays can make a significant difference to the success of your sales strategy. 

Supermarkets, for example, always have shelves with low-ticket items between the tills – chewing gum, sweets, snacks, magazines, those are all small purchases you may not have planned to make as they are not essential but having quick and easy access to them nearly at the point of sale, reportedly helps stores sell these types of products three times faster than if they were placed anywhere else in the store. 

Retail POS space is commonly sold to brands. A mini-fridge filled with Coca-Cola bottles by the till in summer or maybe a whole freestanding shelf of batteries with a full-size Duracell bunny smiling at you? You may not have thought about it before but it is hot and you probably would enjoy a cold drink, plus you haven’t changed the remote’s batteries in a while, so it might be a good idea to stock up, right? You are not alone. We’ve all been there. This is why POS marketing works.


POS marketing in the food industry

The hospitality industry and especially the food sector is prime territory for point-of-sale marketing excellence. Whether it’s a coffee shop advertising a new latte variety or fast-food chain tempting you with a desserts display at the till, to be presented with appetising alternatives while you wait for your turn is a sure route to an impulse purchase when it’s time to place your order.

Have you ever found yourself going to Costa for a cup of coffee and leaving with a decadent chocolate brownie and a freshly made sandwich on top? This is because their ordering system requires queuing past an attractive POS display filled with tasty-looking goodies and daily meal deal offers. 

Another good example of POS marketing can be found in fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King etc. Giant freestanding and hanging displays featuring images of scrumptious burgers along with eye-catching low prices welcome you before you even enter through the front door. You may have come in for a cheeseburger but staring at that bacon-cranberry Christmas special while you wait in line can easily change your mind, even if it’s a little bit more expensive.

Also, what are the chances of walking into a McDonalds with children, seeing those Happy Meal toys hanging from the ceiling by the till and not leaving with as many Happy Meals as the number of kids you’ve brought in? This is the power of point of sale marketing in action. 


POS marketing in non-profit organisations

Non-profit organisations also need to sell and POS marketing helps them do just that. Whether it’s advertising a social reward per donation or if it’s selling charity-branded badges, postcards and even gift cards, it’s an easy way to get multiple small purchases at the counter. 

For example, how many times have you been invited to take part in a ruffle by the cashier as you are about to pay for your purchase at the local charity shop? Usually, you can either see the reward displayed or you can see a photo that shows who the money would go to, sometimes even both. Similarly, you may have noticed a large, bright, banded donation box for a certain charity nearby the tills at a fast-food restaurant or a grocery store. 


POS display in store

Common types of point of sale displays

There are many different types of POS displays to choose from and with the design being one of the key factors to the success of your POS marketing campaign, choosing the right type of display is important. So let’s look at some of the most popular POS display types below.

Dump Bins

Dump bins, dumps or floor displays are freestanding bins (often made of a metal net) where you can place a pile of sale products. A big label saying “2 for 1” or “£1 each” is usually attached to draw the customer’s attention. They are a popular choice with all types of retailers, as they are easy to clean, repurpose and reuse for multiple products and campaigns. 


Countertop Displays

Countertop units are usually small and they can be used to display all of the usual small till purchase items, such as a scratch card at the local grocery store, a lipgloss at the cosmetics shop or an energy bar at the petrol station. They are both functional and cost-effective. 


Freestanding Display Units (FSDU)

These are really good for pushing new products or drawing attention to a specific brand. Freestanding displays take up more space and are more eye-catching. Whether it’s the product of the week, or you have just signed a deal with a new brand partner that you want to increase sales for – FSDU is the perfect choice of POS display for that. 


Shelf Talkers

Shelf talkers or shelf-edge displays are a type of small signage designed to be attached to the edge of the shelf unit to draw the customer’s attention to a particular offer. Those are usually in a bright colour (yellow, red) and contain a small message, such as “SALE”, “50% OFF”, “3 for £1”, “NEW” or similar. They speak for themselves, hence the name. 


POS Wobblers

POS wobblers are a type of shelf talkers. They are shaped as various tags that are attached by a thin, long, plastic strip to the shelf. Wobblers pop out and hang in front of the product, so they, well, wobble in the air. Cheap and easy to attach, they are great at catching the eye and driving that POS purchase decision. 


Pallet Displays

If you have a huge stock of fast-moving products and you want to direct your customers to them, pallet displays are the way to do it. It’s often used to increase sales of seasonal products in the weeks leading up to a particular celebration. Seasonal items that are commonly advertised on a POS pallet display include Easter eggs, flowers on Valentine’s Day and festive wrapping paper around Christmas. 



A great way to utilise wall space is by using posters to advertise products. For example, a pumpkin spice latte plastered all over the wall at the till in Starbucks is a great way to drive the extra purchase in autumn. Posters can also be freestanding. This option is more versatile and is more commonly used in the retail sector, as it is easy to move.


Digital signage

A more high-tech solution is digital signage. The good thing about it is that once you have the tech available, you can choose to change the displayed message or video that your clients see while waiting in line whenever you like. This is something that big fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s and Burger King use all the time to promote their new seasonal burgers. 


POS display supermarket

What makes a great POS display 

POS marketing has proved to be a successful driver of sales. Yet, like any other marketing campaign, your POS advertising has to be planned carefully to maximise its effectiveness. Below we’ll discuss some of the things you must take into account when planning your POS design. 


Point-of-purchase displays are versatile in that they can be moved around and placed anywhere. To boost your POS marketing campaign, you should make the most of this flexibility and choose the optimal placement for your items. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What’s nearby? – A popular POS technique is cross-marketing or simply placing the POS display close to items that the product you want to push is commonly sold with. This can inspire a  combo purchase that wasn’t previously planned.
  • How busy is it? – The best place for a POS display is in high-trafficked areas, such as at the end of the aisles or the checkout counter. The more people pass by, the more eyeballs your POS installation can draw. 
  • How high is it? – An eye-level placement is what you should be aiming for to increase visibility. Bottom or top shelves are not a good place to put your promotional items. 


The effectiveness of a POS display is defined by its design. Spectacular creativity is what you should be striving towards. A POS installation has to be capable of engaging the attention of your target audience in a way that drives them to make a spontaneous purchase. The POS design elements that can help you achieve the desired effect include:

  • Bright colours: Bright colours are sure to catch the eye, which makes them a perfect fit for POS advertising. However, you should show some restraint too. The wrong combination of bright colours can make your product look unprofessional and cheap (not in a good way). 
  • Font and logo size: POS displays have to grab someone’s attention and convince them to buy a product in seconds. One of the biggest POS design mistakes you can make is to choose a font size or a logo size that’s too small. People need to be able to read your message and recognise your product without any effort, so having to struggle with reading the small print is counter-productive. 
  • Visuals of the product: Whether it’s a video or professional photos, being able to see the product in action at a glance can motivate people to buy it. Also, this tells people what is being advertised from far. For example, if you see a yellow stand with a big bunny holding a cup of milk, you know Nesquick’s on offer even if you are still at the opposite end of the aisle. 
  • A clear message: Depending on your branding and your campaign goals, you might opt in for a catchy slogan or a short, easily-digestible CTA. Either way, the POS design must incorporate a clear message that prompts people to buy. 
  • Quirkiness: Unusual designs attract attention. Irregular shapes, pop-out cutouts and unexpected visuals can increase your POS design’s chances of being noticed. Also, nowadays people are bombarded with advertisements from all sides, so creativity in marketing is always appreciated. 



Your POS installation has to be functional, adaptable and safe. You may have the design requirements all figured out in your head but a  POS display specialist can advise you on some of the layout elements you wouldn’t have necessarily considered, such as:

  • Materials: POS displays can be made of various materials, including metal, wood, vinyl and cardboard. This can affect their sturdiness, as well as their aesthetics, so it’s important to choose the right option for your space and your product. 
  • Functionality: Different types of products will require different POS layouts. Should your POS display accommodate for hanging items or stacking boxes? Would simply dumping snacks in a bin suffice? The right layout has to fit around the product’s shape, size and weight. This will also make it easier for the customer to access and consequently purchase the product. 
  • Health and safety: Sharp edges, tripping hazards and falling objects are some of the health and safety risks you have to take into account when planning the layout of your POS installation to ensure compliance with any existing industry standards and legal requirements. 
  • Installation requirements: Some POS displays, such as fridges and digital displays, as well as any installation that requires additional lighting, will need to be close to a power source. Considering what that source is and how to best lay out the display should definitely be on your preparation checklist. 



Merchandising display with carpets done by ADP

How does POS marketing help your business?

POS marketing can be a very useful tool in your overall merchandising strategy. Here are 5 ways in which a great POS display can help your product sell. 

  • Get your product noticed 

First and foremost, a dazzling POS display is a guaranteed way of getting your product noticed. Being able to stand out from other similar items as the customer is simply browsing through, significantly increases your chances of being chosen over the competition. 

  • Educate customers about your product

Often when you have a great product, there are many benefits you would like your customers to know about but you can’t always list all your USPs in a functional way on a label. A large, freestanding POS display opens up the possibility to add extra information about your product using a big, bold medium. 

  • Occupy a prime location

We already talked about the importance of location for a POS installation but we can’t leave it unmentioned when listing the advantages of POS marketing in general. Placing your product in a strategic location can make the difference between it being bought or not. 

  • Make your brand stand out

POS marketing can not only help you with increasing sales numbers for a specific item but it can also make your brand stand out. Having a large logo on your POS display and using your brand colours throughout the POS design are just two of the many ways you can place your brand in the customer’s mind. 

  • Enjoy a better value for money

POS installations can be a lot cheaper than other advertising methods, such as billboards or nationwide media campaigns. Also, as it targets impulse buyers, POS marketing can drive sales faster and in high quantities, resulting in a great ROI.  


How can ADP Distributions help?

ADP Distributions is a visual merchandising company with over 50 years of combined industry experience within the business. We can help you both with your POS display delivery and installation, and we will also make sure that your chosen layout is displayed correctly. Dedicated to providing exceptional customer experience, our professional POS team will take care of all your merchandising needs from the moment you first call us until we complete your project. Get in touch with ADP today!