In our blog “Retail Display Manufacturers- How to Find the Right Company”, we discussed 5 of the most important factors in selecting the best partner among the many retail display companies in the industry. We focused on 5 key factors: design capabilities, experience/track record, in-house manufacturing, responsiveness/nimbleness, and price competitiveness. While we stand by all of those factors, we wanted to highlight 5 additional factors that are becoming increasingly important in selecting the right retail display partner given the challenges of today’s environment.
After a year of navigating lockdowns and managing through the ugly realities of COVID, we find ourselves faced with new variants and ongoing COVID challenges, persistent inflation, historic supply chain disruptions, labor market shortages, and political divisiveness. These challenges have contributed to a shift in emphasis related to retail display company partner selection toward the following criteria:
- Domestic Production Capabilities– Retail display companies that have domestic production capabilities deserve strong partner consideration given the extended lead times, international logistics issues, and overseas production challenges related to China’s energy management policies and COVID restrictions. Selecting a partner with strong domestic or nearshoring production capabilities can help to reduce lead times and mitigate overall risk associated with your POP display program. We provided a deeper look at the benefits of reshoring and nearshoring in our 5-part blog series staring with “40 Made in the USA Displays that Will Make You Rethink Manufacturing Overseas- Part I.”
- Vertical Integration– Given widespread supply chain disruptions facing the retail industry, companies that have in-house production capabilities and own the means of production have a distinct advantage. Not only are they better positioned to deliver more cost-effective solutions since they eliminate the need for middlemen who can’t produce but can only project manage, but they have greater control over production timing and quality.
Companies that rely primarily on outsourcing for their business model are finding it increasingly difficult to control project timing and costs in the current inflationary environment. The more vertically integrated a company or the more steps in the value chain it can execute in-house, the greater the chances of successfully managing supply chain disruption challenges.
- Logistics Expertise– While logistics has always been an important part of executing a retail display program, it has become even more essential in today’s environment. With longer lead times, congested ports, trucking shortages, and astronomical increases in overseas shipping rates and domestic transportation costs, selecting a retail display partner who has the right logistics experience, the right relationships, and a proven logistics infrastructure can make or break a retail display program.
- Commitment to Sustainability– In addition to the acute economic and supply chain challenges facing the industry, there is a worldwide reckoning of the negative effects of climate change and a commitment to environmental sustainability among major global economies. Leading brands and retailers are stepping up their search for retail display solutions that are eco-friendly and that support a circular economy. Therefore, retail display companies that are committed to providing solutions that utilize sustainable materials and are adopting manufacturing practices that are environmentally responsible are likely to be strong partners over the long term.
- Line of Stock Products– With strong demand for retail display solutions and ongoing supply chain challenges, companies that offer in-stock POP displays and store fixtures are well positioned to meet the just-in-time needs of their customers. While this may have been less important in the past, insufferable delays and the forecast for continued inflation make stock displays a viable option for many companies. Retail display companies that can quickly customize stock displays to meet customer needs can be even more effective partners for companies looking for quick-turn, differentiated merchandising solutions.
Choosing the right retail display company requires an understanding of the company’s capabilities, expertise, and ability to deliver. Making the right partner choice can make a huge difference in meeting the challenges of today’s retail environment.
Jim Hollen is the owner and President of RICH LTD. (www.richltd.com), a 35+ year-old California-based point-of-purchase display, retail store fixture, and merchandising solutions firm which has been named among the Top 50 U.S. POP display companies for 9 consecutive years. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and graduate of Stanford Business School, Jim Hollen has served more than 3000 brands and retailers over more than 20 years and has authored nearly 500 blogs and e-Books on a wide range of topics related to POP displays, store fixtures, and retail merchandising.
Jim has been to China more than 50 times and has worked directly with more than 30 factories in Asia across a broad range of material categories, including metal, wood, acrylic, injection molded and vacuum formed plastic, corrugated, glass, LED lighting, digital media player, and more. Jim Hollen also oversees RICH LTD.’s domestic manufacturing operation and has experience manufacturing, sourcing, and importing from numerous Asian countries as well as Vietnam and Mexico.
His experience working with brands and retailers spans more than 25 industries such as food and beverage, apparel, consumer electronics, cosmetics/beauty, sporting goods, automotive, pet, gifts and souvenirs, toys, wine and spirits, home improvement, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, consumer products, mass market retail, specialty retail, convenience stores, and numerous other product/retailer categories.