In our last blog post we emphasized the importance of carefully preparing and planning prior to starting a point-of-purchase display project. We stressed the importance of knowing the answers to a set of 20 basic questions to ensure an efficient design process and a successful outcome. In Part I, Part II, and Part III of this 4-part series we looked at the first 15 questions. Now let’s focus on the last 5 questions:
16. What is your budget for the display?
Understanding and communicating a realistic budget for your display is among the most important questions you will be asked by an experienced point-of-purchase display firm. If you don’t have the answer to this question or can’t give the design team a reasonable budget range, it may not be worth embarking on the design process. Many prospective customers, particularly those with little experience, believe that sharing a budget with a POP design team means that they won’t get a competitive price. Not sharing a budget or target price only makes sense when you are bidding out a display that you have made before or have detailed specifications on a display that has already been designed.
However, if you are looking for a new design it always makes sense to give the design team budget direction so the design process can be more efficient. Understanding the budget enables designers to create the best possible display for the money, and it helps avoid going down a lot of dead ends that are not feasible due to cost.
17. When do you need the displays to be produced and ready to ship?
Understanding required delivery dates is crucial prior to starting the design process. If the lead time is 8 weeks or more, we will generally design a display that we can manufacture overseas to ensure we can offer the best price to our customers. Knowing we will be manufacturing a display overseas has important design implications since we understand the strengths, weaknesses and capabilities of our factories and can design something that is a good fit.
If the timeframe is more immediate, we will likely manufacture it in our millwork shop or possibly make it in Mexico or the USA. If the timeframe is extremely short, we may need to outsource some of the project. In some cases, we will manufacture a small run of displays domestically and make the rest overseas. The manufacturing location and extent of outsourcing has important implications for the cost of the display and the way we design it. Therefore, getting a clear understanding of the required delivery dates is essential.
18. Can the display be sent to the store knock-down and assembled at the store or does the display need to arrive assembled?
The majority of displays we make are sent knock-down to retailers who then assemble the displays on-site. However, there are also many displays that are shipped to the retailers assembled and ready to go. It is important to understand the retailer’s appetite for assembling a display at the store level. In general, a product manufacturer can save money in shipping and labor by sending a knock-down display to a retailer who then assembles the unit. But, not all retailers are willing to do the assembly.
It is critical to know if the display will be shipped knock-down or assembled since it affects the way the unit is designed. If you assume the retailer will assemble the unit and then find out you are required to assemble the unit in each store, it can get expensive and would likely have been cheaper to send the retailer an assembled display.
19. How will the display be shipped?
Will the display be shipped FEDEX or UPS? Or, will it be shipped on pallets using a trucking company? These questions are necessary to think through prior to starting the design process. If the display will be shipped FEDEX or UPS, the packing requirements and packing protection will be higher to avoid damage. If it is going to be shipped on pallets and sent via a trucking company, it won’t have to be packed as well.
It is also important to know if the displays will be shipped to a retailer’s distribution center(s) or drop shipped directly to stores. If the displays are going to a distribution center, find out if there are specific requirements for how the units need to be palletized so as to avoid penalties for not following the rules.
Understanding how the units will be shipped is also important for the design process since the designers will do their best to ensure that the display can fit on a pallet in a way that maximizes pallet load.
20. Are there any packing requirements that need to be considered?
Although we touched on this in the point above, packing requirements are necessary for the POP design team to understand at the outset of the project. The nicest POP display can be rendered useless if it shows up to the store damaged. Carefully thinking through packing requirements is virtually as important as thinking through the design of the display. This is particularly true if the units will be shipping by FEDEX or UPS since the damage rates tend to be higher than pallet shipments.
When defining the packing requirements, be sure to consider the required strength of the box, any foam or corrugated inserts/protective materials, edge protectors, etc. Furthermore, packing requirements include desired carton markings and any outside labels, including “Fragile” and “This Side Up” stickers. For most of our customers, packing is an afterthought, and few of our customers understand how expensive effective packaging can be. So our advice is to specifically think about packing requirements at the front end of the design process and be sure to allocate a generous budget for it if you think your display might be vulnerable to shipping damage.