The retail sector, and indeed the rest of the world, finds itself in new waters, with clouds of uncertainty cast over the immediate future of the market. While we await absolute clarity as to how and when all locations will be permitted to reopen, recent announcements by the government have spurred many on to planning how best to go about business after measures are relaxed.

One of the main focuses will be getting customers into shops and engaging with them in a safe manner, and a major part of this will be rolling out effective point-of-sale (POS) and point-of-purchase (POP) technologies.

With the general public starved of in-person retail activity in recent months, how can shops use POS and POP to go about getting them back in store and driving sales in what will be a tough market?

Seize the opportunity

Alvaro Cabrera, chief executive of in-store visual solutions specialist Kendu, said the new store experience is still unknown territory, due to the impact of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on the world.

“We don’t yet know what the store experience will look like in terms of new regulations as a result of Covid-19,” he said.” But what we do know is that the experience needs to focus on the best parts of the customer journey and maximise them to ensure a positive, relevant and, most of all, safe experience for the customer.

POP and POS - Kendu has urged retailers to look past traditional signs
Kendu has urged retailers to look past traditional signs to integrate other aspects of POS and POP in their stores, including interactive displays

However, Cabrera did say that it is key for retailers to look beyond typical signs to include wayfaring graphics, in-store signage and even interactive displays.

“Now is an opportune time to be experiential and try new POS/POP innovations in-store that will really add value to the customer experience,” Cabrera said.

“For example, experiential retail is getting bigger and better as it’s changing up what exactly is a store. The new store may include a pop-up, a showroom or even a new prototype all of which are ideal for trialling new POS/POP ideas.

“Additionally, technology is becoming incorporated more organically into POS/POP which benefits customers as the focus is on interaction. Digital transformation in-store, especially in relation to POS/POP, can engage customers further by getting them involved in the brand’s in-store experience.”

In terms of how Kendu can assist, Cabrera picked out a number of options, such as its new-look Flowbox, which has been redesigned with a brand-new framing system featuring smooth edged LED plates with internal wiring that eliminates the need for manual cabling.

The new framing system can be easily assembled thanks to its clip-style locking system, while as the wiring is encased within the frame, the smooth-edged LED plates click into the lighting grid supports, eliminating the need for manual cabling.

Animation comes on a ready-to-play SD card, which slots into a discrete reader embedded in the frame, breathing life and movement into the graphic. In addition, Cabrera said it provides retailers with energy efficiency savings, as it uses up to 80% less energy consumption than a LED screen.

Consider future habits and trends

Also offering guidance is display and graphics installation company 100 Percent Group, whose managing director, Dan Williams, said that consumers are savvy and expect brands to adapt to current trends.

Williams said: “Using the latest technology to create interactive POP displays can offer ease of use to the customer, control the customer journey, target impulse buyers and improve the overall shopping experience.

POP and POS Dan Williams, managing director of 100 Percent Group
Dan Williams, managing director of 100 Percent Group, said implementing new POP displays can be an effective way of lowering costs

“Implementing new POP displays can be an effective way to cut down on costs. With the price of advertising continuing to rise, both on and offline, POP displays offer an efficient channel of communication between the customer and brand.

“Brands can incorporate the same adverts and messaging through the use of POP displays, capturing the attention of a highly relevant market with an immediate call to action.”

Williams also advised taking into account the likely current trends that will come about as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and the impact this will have on POS and POP installations.

He said that issues around hygiene will play a significant part in brands future-proofing their POP displays, adding that it is expected we will see a transition away from touchscreen to gesture recognition and computer vision control technology to mitigate the spread of infection.

Williams expanded: “This is something brands should be looking to incorporate into their POP displays, ready for when our high street reopens.

“One aspect of our service that we have invested in significantly during recent years is our maintenance offering. Many POP displays rely on the latest interactive technology and going forward in a post-COVID-19 world, we will see even more of this.”

Environmentally friendly engagement

While much of the focus is on the market’s response to coronavirus at present, Amy Gleave, marketing executive at POS and POP specialist Momentum Instore, said that a key ongoing trend that will continue when the sector returns to near-normal is the environment.

Gleave said: “In an ever-changing marketplace, consumers are constantly being influenced by the media, celebrities and the world around them which in turn, affects what they expect from their favourite brands and retailers.

POP and POS Amy Gleave, marketing executive at Momentum Instore
Amy Gleave, marketing executive at Momentum Instore, said environmental considerations will be an ongoing key trend for retailers when it comes to POS and POP

“POS and POP need to adapt to customers’ changing desires in order to stay relevant. For example, in these times of hyper-awareness regarding the future of the planet, it is simply no longer acceptable in the eye of the customer to turn a blind eye to the effect that frequently changing POS has on the environment.”

Gleave explained that Momentum Instore works with brands and retailers to extend the life cycle of their POP and POS fixtures through its aftermarket and recycling solution. She added that brands that claim to have sustainability at the heart of everything they do can demonstrate their commitment to the cause by ensuring this idea is not only considered at conception, but throughout the life cycle of each component. 

Gleave added: “POS/POP that resonates with the customer’s values is much more likely to create an emotional connection and have the desired effect when it comes to buying. New POS/POP is a powerful tool that can also be used to communicate a brand’s values as well as just trying to sell.”

Early estimates from the government suggest that mainstream retail shops could begin to open from June, but questions remain as to how stores will go about ensuring people can shop in a safe manner. That said, adapting your POS and POP to offer a safer environment to customers is one sure-fire way of making sure you are ready to welcome shoppers once again.