Evaluating Stock vs. Custom Point-of-Purchase Display Options

Many of our customers are not sure whether to go with a stock point-of-purchase (POP) display or a custom display for their merchandising program. There are many considerations to evaluate to ensure you are making the right decision. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons as well as the critical factors to consider in deciding between stock and custom point-of-purchase display options.

There are a number of advantages to going with a stock display:

1. Immediate availability
One of the biggest advantages of stock displays is that they are generally available for immediate shipment. Stock displays are often the default choice when lead times are so short that there is no time to design a custom display. Choosing to go with a stock display is like having a bird in the hand. It eliminates a significant amount of delivery risk and can reduce the possibility of lost revenue due to late arrival of displays.

2. No Minimums
Stock displays generally have no minimums so you can reduce your upfront cash outlay and avoid purchasing more displays than you might need. Most of RICH LTD.’s stock items can be purchased in quantities of 1, and the remainder of the items can be purchased in very low quantities.

3. No Deposit Required
Most companies require a deposit for custom production, but stock items can be purchased with no deposit- at least at RICH LTD. This benefits cash flow and reduces overall financial risk.

4. Customizable
Most stock displays are easy to customize by using brand-specific graphics. Generic store fixtures such as sunglass displays, cap displays, shoe displays, apparel displays, and many other types of displays can be dressed up with custom signage to create a look that is specific to your company. Brand messaging can be easily changed on most displays and can be changed frequently to accommodate seasonal programs or promotions. Beyond signage, it is also possible to change other elements of a display such as the way Louis Garneau adapted our SU-72Link to create a heavily branded customized sunglass floor display as seen below. 


5. Store Tests
Many of our customers have programs that require a test program in a more limited number of stores before a larger rollout. Stock displays are often a good option for test programs. Without making a large investment, a stock display can provide a good vehicle to collect feedback and determine what features and design elements are important to be included in a custom display for a larger program rollout. As we discussed earlier, stock displays can be placed in test stores much more quickly which speeds the time to program rollout. Very few of our customers think about the financial benefit of moving quickly on a successful merchandising program, nor do they think about the lost revenue associated with delaying a display program.

6. Display Risk
Most stock displays are time-tested. While some displays are new and have not been offered to customers for a long enough time to gather feedback, many displays have been placed in a variety of retail environments and have been made better over time.

7. Attractive Cost
Popular-selling stock retail displays are often attractively priced and may represent an attractive choice relative to a custom display. This is possible because popular stock displays are usually purchased in higher quantities, effectively pooling quantities across a larger customer base.


However, relative to custom displays, there are also a few cons to going with a stock display:

  1. Lack of Differentiation
    Probably the biggest negative in going with a stock POP display instead of a custom display is the lack of uniqueness or differentiation relative to a custom display. Let’s face it: in a highly competitive retail environment it is important for your product and your display to stand out. While it is possible to customize a stock display to create differentiation, there are some general limitations such as not being able to change the powder coating or the basic structure of the display.

  2. Imperfect Fit
    Sometimes stock display measurements will be a little different than the measurements you need to fit your product. This could mean having a couple extra inches on a floor shelf display or having to live with an apparel display that is a few inches shorter than you wanted. In some cases, there might not be a stock display that fits your product. If that is the case, a custom display might be your only option.

  3. Customization Cost
    Depending on the display, it could be more expensive to customize a stock display than it would be to go with a completely new custom display. Many customers are under the impression that custom displays are more expensive than stock displays, but this is generally not the case because most customers who are interested in custom displays can order enough quantity to benefit from volume pricing.

  4. Possible Out-of-Stocks
    As with any stock program, it is possible that the display you want to order or re-order is temporarily out of stock. Alternatively, sometimes the display will be in stock, but the accessory components such as shelves, hooks, sign holders, baskets, etc. are out of stock. To mitigate your out-of-stock risk, it may be a good idea to discuss your display program and forecasts with your display manufacturer so they can plan accordingly. It’s also a good idea to understand what stock levels the manufacturer or distributor typically carries. Finally, it may make sense to choose a display for which there is a close substitute. For example, if you are looking for a 120-count sunglass floor display, it would be good to know that the manufacturer also carries a 144-count sunglass floor display which might work for you in a pinch.

Deciding whether to build your display program around a stock display or a custom display is an important decision. While there are pros and cons to both options, it is important to evaluate the options in the context of your specific display program.

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