Most POP display companies like to do large display programs. Why? The reason is that a low quantity POP display program takes nearly the same effort that a large POP display program takes. It’s the same reason an investment bank would rather do a $1 billion M&A transaction than a $5 million transaction. The work required is largely the same, but there is a big difference in the money to be made.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a trend toward increasingly smaller POP display programs. At the same time, we have seen planning horizons and time lines shrink dramatically. The net effect is that small-quantity, hot rush projects are likely to be here to stay. As a POP display provider we were not exactly thrilled to take on these types of projects since they can quickly consume organizational resources and divert our attention away from our strategic priorities, while contributing little to the bottom line.
However, we decided that if small-quantity, hot rush projects are the new normal, we better figure out how to become more efficient at these types of projects so we can serve our clients well.
Once we began to embrace these small-quantity POP projects, we could begin to see the value for our customers. Small-quantity POP display projects have a number of important benefits:
• Testing and Risk Mitigation- Small quantity POP projects provide an opportunity for testing and risk mitigation. You may have heard about A/B testing, which is frequently used to determine which of two web pages performs better. It’s essentially a structured randomized experiment with two variants A and B. The two variants are compared against each other to determine which is more effective. The reason it is commonly used in website work is that it is easy to do and requires little investment. It also yields very quick, actionable results.
In the POP display world, A/B testing is rarely used because it requires more of an investment, and few people bother to measure the results of their display program. However, testing two different displays can offer extremely valuable insights that can help to make your POP display program more effective. Which is better, a 12 SKU display or a 24 SKU display? Does the display with the digital media player outperform the same display without the player? Does LED lighting really make a difference in sell-through? Which header sign messaging drives more sales?
There are so many questions that can be answered by testing different versions of displays in a retail setting. Once the test is completed you will inevitably want to make changes to your display so testing can help you mitigate the risk of making a large investment in an untested display and then wishing you had done some things differently.
• Opportunity to Measure and Analyze Results- Testing without measurement and analysis is not very useful. But, there are very significant benefits associated with testing and then analyzing the results. You can analyze the hard data like unit sales, volume by SKU, direct product profitability, reorder rates, and other quantitative metrics. This type of rigorous analysis can help you to understand the value of your display and whether the bells and whistles you added to the display generate a positive return on investment.
If you are comparing 2 different display versions, It is important that you think carefully about how to control for different variables to ensure you are reaching the right conclusion regarding which display is more effective. For example, you will want to consider normalizing for differences in store sales (i.e., a larger store with more traffic might drive more results for you even if your display in that store is inferior to the display you have in a smaller, less busy store). Similarly, seasonality, display location, and other factors can skew your results if you are not careful to take these factors into account and make the appropriate adjustments to ensure you are comparing apples-to-apples.
In addition to the hard data analysis, you can get qualitative feedback from store managers and store personnel. What would they change about the display to make it more effective? Do they have any concerns about the ease with which the display can be maintained and serviced? Do they have any observations about how customers reacted to the display?
• Refine Your Display- Using these results, you can then tweak your display program before you start to lay out the bigger money required for a national rollout. Simply put, testing and analyzing the way in which your display performs at retail gives you a “second chance” opportunity. Instead of wishing you had done things a little differently, you now have the opportunity to incorporate your learning and refine your display prior to the big program rollout to ensure the best results possible.
So clearly there are benefits to testing your display in a retail setting. Even if you just test a single version of the display, you will likely learn a lot. If you can A/B test your display with two versions, you are likely to learn even more. So how do you get a small quantity or testing program done? It may not be easy since many POP display companies don’t want to waste their time. Similarly, most factories have minimums and are not really set up to do small runs.
We have found several ways to help customers who want to test their display program in a limited number of stores. First, because we have a line of ready-to-ship, in-stock displays, we can often find a display that can work for our customers. These displays typically have no minimums, and most can be customized by adding customer-specific signs or branding. The second way we can help our customers with small-quantity POP display programs is by leveraging our millwork shop. With metal displays it is much more difficult to do a run of 25 displays, for example, because there is often tooling involved and hand-making 25 displays is not very efficient. But, with wood, acrylic, or PVC displays, there is usually no tooling so it’s often a matter of writing a program and letting the CNC machine do most of the work to create the display.
It is important to note that small-quantity POP display programs are likely to be quite a bit more expensive than larger run programs since they require design and engineering time, since there are no economies in purchasing materials, and since project management is still necessary. Expect to pay a premium for rush projects since materials are often more expensive because of lack of availability and overtime costs can come into play. Despite the higher cost, there are significant benefits that can often outweigh the incremental costs of the program.