Pop display perfume

The best types of POP display (and how sound makes them even better)

As a retailer, you'll already understand the importance of point of purchase displays in your shopping environment.

They're an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and increase sales. They bring sensory variety to the shop floor and drive shopper attention towards your priority products. And they're a key part of marketing campaigns, for your commercial partners as well as your own brand.

In 2022 and beyond, customer expectations are higher than ever - and their attention is even more precious. So how do you make your POP displays unique, interesting, and effective?

Directional speakers can be incorporated into point-of-purchase display systems in a variety of ways, giving you creative options for in-store sound design that'll transform your shop floor. Here are some of our favourite ways you can enhance your in-store marketing with directional sound.

POP displays are physical or digital displays in retail stores that encourage customers to make a decision to purchase. While the customer may have entered the store just to browse or to find something specific, POP displays generally highlight promotional products they might not have initially intended to buy. Otherwise, they can be used to give the customer a memorable, even interactive, experience – great for brand building.

Directional speakers (sometimes known as parametric or parabolic speakers) send a beam of sound in a straight line, instead of a wide cone. Think of a spotlight, rather than a floodlight - a single column of sound projected in a straight line from the speaker.

To get customers the specific, time-limited information they need in a busy retail environment, these two are a perfect match.

Here are some of the best types of POP displays, and how you can use directional speakers to make them even better.

Shelf talkers

These are simple merchandising displays commonly found on shelves at eye level, using branded displays that stick outwards to draw attention. They're eye-catching, easy to install and dismantle, and they often appear when there's a promotion for the product.

Interestingly, they don't actually talk. But maybe they should. A directional speaker above the display can double its impact, offering branded sound or additional information about the contents of the display. Playing while they walk past is a great way to attract customers' attention to the product and potentially drive sales.

A shelf talker display
A shelf talker display (source: Dotactiv)

Floor graphics

One of the simplest and most cost-effective forms of in-store advertising, floor graphics are point of purchase displays that use bright, creative visuals to catch shoppers' attention. They can be placed around the shop floor or alongside a specific product on the shelves. They could work in-tandem with pop-up displays or branded dump bins (free-standing buckets customers can grab small items from) for a bigger effect.

When combined with directional sound, floor graphics become an even more powerful tool. You can use sound to point customers' attention towards them, or even create an interactive experience by using a basic motion sensor to trigger audio playback when a customer steps over the sign. There's plenty of room for creativity here.

Robotic product displays

At the forefront of innovative in-store retail technology, robotic displays can use movement to make a product display much more interesting.

You can see here how Tokinomo used a robotic display to make two jars of Nutella appear to have a conversation with each other. This kind of advertising can be surprising and quite delightful for a customer walking by. There's a good chance they'll stop, look for a few seconds, and take a product for themselves. And it's superb for boosting general brand awareness too, with some customers snapping a quick picture to post on social media.

In fact, one in-store coffee promotion that Tokinomo used their robots in resulted in an 841% uplift in sales in two weeks.

Sound is a crucial part of this type of display; while visually it catches the eye, the extra dimension of sound is used to give context and help the customer understand what they're seeing.

A robotic display
A robotic display illuminating and moving around a product (Source: Tokinomo)

Interactive product displays

This kind of POP kiosk displays a product that can be picked up and looked at.

It's the kind of point of purchase marketing that's perfect for electronic products that customers want to hold in their hands and operate before buying. Instead of having to read a description to figure out how it works, they can simply pick up the device, and the directional speaker will give them useful information about how it works.

We helped French retailer Cultura with an installation of this type. Displaying their e-book reader in a fixed display, the customer could stand in the right spot and experience how it feels in their hands. Above them, an Akoustic Arts directional speaker focused high-quality, relevant sound about the product. This avoided the main problem of playing sound in a bookstore (disturbing other customers) while promoting the product in a unique, engaging way.

End caps

These are POP displays located at the end of aisles, most commonly seen in grocery stores. They can be used to hold a certain product category, or set of items that are discounted. The most striking form is the fully-branded end cap display, which can be a colourful and attention-grabbing arrangement.

While they are effective, end cap displays can sometimes be in high-traffic areas where customers are more likely to walk past while changing to the next aisle. In this case, directional speakers can help amplify their existence; while walking past, customers will go through the sound beam and hear the installation. This can be great for getting them to slow down and take a look.

End cap display
End cap display (Source: jeepersmedia)

Interactive screen displays

This works for higher-ticket items where the customer might want to take their time investigating the product. In a car showroom, for example: a touchscreen display that lets the customer explore the different models and customisation options for the car they're interested in.

Directional speakers can be mounted directly above this type of digital signage as a hygienic alternative to headphones; a speaker setup that doesn't interfere with the peaceful ambiance of the showroom, and won't disturb other customers. The speaker could help them with product descriptions, read ad copy or branding material, or play exciting engine sounds if it's a sports car. In the example photo below, the speaker could offer additional information about each wine, or play ambient music related to its place of origin.

An interactive screen display
An interactive screen display in a retail store (Source: signmedia.ca)

Directional sound for point of sale (POS) installations

So, point of purchase displays are the parts of your store where customers look at and pick up products. But what about when they pay for them?

The point of sale kiosk, where transactions take place, has long been a spot where effective upsells can be made for impulse buying – especially with items that have a lower cost or smaller footprint than others around the shop.

If this is a place where you have a sales assistant operating the cash register, it might be best to avoid putting a directional speaker directly here, as it would distract the customer while they're talking to your staff member. (Self-checkout machines, of course, don't have this problem.)

That said, if you have a slightly longer checkout line where customers usually wait a few moments before reaching the checkout operator, this is different. A free-standing display or small shelf above the belt (e.g. in a supermarket) would pair very nicely with a directional speaker, as the customer will be standing still in one spot for a few moments. Intentional, non-invasive sound (like a short message or recognisable jingle) can influence immediate, impulsive purchase decisions while the customer is in the right state of mind to buy something.

What sound should you play at your point of purchase displays?

It depends on the product, and how the display ties in with your overall marketing strategy.

If the display is for your own brand, it should be easy enough for your marketing department to create voiceover recordings or hire freelancers or agencies to help you. If you already have audio marketing collateral you've used for advertisements, then why not reuse it in-store? It can help with brand recall for customers who've seen your promotions before.

If you stock multiple brands, it's a good idea to liaise with your contact for each one and have them provide appropriate sound files. You could offer focused sound as an additional service when discussing the possibilities.

There's also the option to play real-time audio announcements - which could be useful for limited time promotions on the day. Or, you could announce discount codes for new customers to use in your ecommerce store after they leave. Keep an eye on your customer behaviour and make new offers accordingly; if one section of the shop is particularly busy, you can try to tempt people to a different part and influence product sales elsewhere.

Rotate your displays, keep your speakers

Usually, directional speakers can be installed in a certain spot - e.g. on the ceiling or high up on a wall. While they are easy enough to disconnect and re-mount elsewhere (it's not a complicated setup), you might prefer to keep them in the same place, simply because it's the easiest option.

On the other hand, your POP and POS displays can change, depending on the season and the current promotions you've got going. So this means you can change which store displays use the speakers, and experiment with different setups.

The speakers can stay in the same place, and you can rotate your POP installations throughout the year based on which campaign you're running and which new products you want to promote.

If you find that displays underneath the focused speakers tend to sell more items (which is certainly what we expect!), you can choose to put more of them in a certain area. If others aren't so successful, simply swap them out and use the data metrics to inform future decisions.

It's a new and exciting time for this type of in-store technology, and there are no 'correct' ways to utilise it. So why not experiment and see what works best?