Retail wood shelf displays are rapidly increasing in popularity as more brands seek natural materials and embrace renewable resources that are visually appealing and align with their brand image. Economically, many wood displays manufactured in the U.S. compare favorably to wood displays produced overseas because of North America’s relative natural resource advantage in forest products. Shorter lead times for U.S.-manufactured wood displays have also played an important role in the growth of the wood display category, particularly given the acute supply chain challenges that have disrupted the retail industry.
In today’s post we’ll focus on one particular genre of wood displays- wood shelf displays. Our objective is simply to share 6 basic design options for wood shelf displays and highlight a few of the pros and cons of each option. Here are the 6 options:
- “Stick” Structure– This option typically uses 4 solid wood posts which support interior shelves. It is often the most cost-effective design option since it uses the least amount of material while also being relatively cost effective to ship since it is lighter in weight and knocks down well. A typical example of this design option is the 6-shelf display shown below with header and shelf signs that we designed for Allegro Coffee.
Stick structure displays can be more heavily branded by adding interchangeable side and shelf signs like the display we made for Marina Vape shown below.
Stick structure designs can also support multi-sided merchandising like the 4-sided Muscle Milk display shown below.
2. Plank Design– Wood shelf displays that utilize a plank design are generally very robust and feature more surface area of exposed wood to highlight the natural beauty of the wood. However, plank designs tend to be more expensive than stick structures since they use more material and are more labor-intensive. We refer to them as “plank displays” because they are constructed of solid wood that comes in in the form of boards instead of sheets. The TD’s Brew & BBQ display shown below is representative of a typical plank design.
3. Plywood or MDF Sides– A popular design option for wood shelf displays involves using plywood or MDF sides. Unlike the solid wood in the 2 above examples, plywood and MDF are engineered wood products that come in sheets. Shelf displays that use plywood or MDF typically have solid/enclosed sides or partially enclosed sides similar to the plank display sample shown above. While this has the disadvantage of eliminating or reducing opportunities to view the product from the sides, it has the advantage offering attractive real estate for signage and branding. Pre-finished birch plywood and MDF are great materials for direct printing because of their smooth surface. The Riedel floor display shown below is an example of side panel construction using MDF.
The Wood Underwear display shown below is an example showing solid sides, but in this case, we made them narrower to enable the shelves to stick out on both sides for greater product visibility.
4) Floating Shelves– A floating shelf design uses the back panel of the display to secure the shelves without relying on side panel supports. It offers a clean visual look with an unobstructed view of the product from 3 sides as seen in the Kraken counter display we designed below.
5.) Shelf Track Design– If you like the look of floating shelves, but you want your shelves to be adjustable, a good option to consider is using shelf tracks. The metal shelf tracks can be embedded in a wood or MDF panel, and your shelves can be easily adjusted up or down with standard shelf brackets mounted to the shelf. It is not quite as clean as the floating shelf look, but the adjustability of the shelves can make your display much more versatile. An example is the Vuori anti-gondola fixture we made below.
6. Center Post Shelves– Our last design example is a 360-degree option in which the shelves are designed to fit over a center post so that the fixture can be shoppable on 4 sides. This approach is a good solution for small footprint fixtures with a 4-sided planogram. The shelves can be made vertically adjustable. An example of this design is the Buddy Fruits display shown below.
Wood shelf displays are a great merchandising option in today’s retail environment. There are multiple design variations to consider in order to achieve maximum brand building and sell-through.
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.