Assembled vs. Knock-down Wood Displays

Practical Considerations That Can Make a Difference

As a designer and manufacturer of point of purchase displays and retail wood store fixtures, we are not only faced with needing to create beautiful, visually-empowering and brand-reinforcing POP displays, but we also must deal with the realities of tight budgets and complex logistics. Display designs that meet all the merchandising and brand requirements but are uneconomical to ship assembled will ultimately fail. Similarly, knock-down designs that are too complex for store employees to assemble or even worse won’t fit though the door at the delivery location will meet a similar fate. So let’s look at some of the important practical considerations to keep in mind when thinking about and designing larger permanent displays for retail stores.


Sometimes a store fixture assembled at the manufacturing location prior to shipping is the most practical design. Often these are highly finished, complex higher-end displays or larger displays that are best shipped fully or mostly assembled due to the size and weight of the unit or due to safety concerns. This Pepsi endcap display we built for Ralphs stores is a good example.  Store fixtures like this require knowledge of the door size at the delivery location as well as all the site delivery conditions. For example, what display moving equipment is available at the delivery locations? Are loading docks available? In these instances it is important to design into the display enough rigidity and strength for the display to survive the rigors of transportation all the way to its designated spot on the store floor. Sometimes this could mean designing in a pallet jack-friendly structural base or adding locking casters.

More frequently the need is not only for a display that is a great merchandiser but also for one that can be shipped and stored in a compact package at the lowest possible cost. After delivery it must be easily unpacked, assembled, and merchandised by store employees without the assistance of outside merchandising services. This last requirement eliminates the need for someone to go to the store for assembly and set-up, which can cost more than shipping the display. So what types of things need to be considered when designing a knock-down wood display fixture that meets these requirements?

Common Types of Knock-down Fastners

First, it makes sense to use the easiest fasteners available. The best fasteners are ones that don’t even require a tool. A Wedge-Fix is one type of fastener that does not require tools. Wedge-Fixes provide a system that uses a socket and post. They pop together with moderately applied hand pressure. When more security of the joint is required, it is best to use cam-locked fasteners. Some brand names to consider are Rafix and Mini-Fix. These only need a screw driver or Allen wrench for locking the cams into position on the posts. Still other fastener systems bolt together similar to something you may have experienced with Ikea furniture. All of these systems are relatively easy to install with a simple set of assembly instructions. 

Important considerations when planning a knock-down display include:

  • The display should almost never require more than one person to put together.
  • Understand that the packaging will need to be a larger than the largest single part of the display. If this exceeds economical box dimensions, it needs to be evaluated for possible redesign. We suggest you familiarize yourself with your carrier’s oversized box definitions and charges.
  • Make sure the packaging will be easy to unpack and dispose of.
  • The engineering of the fixture needs to be strong enough to handle unexpected weight overloading and the typical bashing and bumping mistreatment that occurs in retail environments.

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