Point-of-purchase fixtures, displays and shelving are helping retailers call attention to new items, highlight healthy options and stock product faster.
By Kim Ann Zimmermann
Supermarkets have a need for speed. They need to quickly put slow-moving items on the sale rack, adjust the shelf set when a supplier changes a package size and rush much-needed deliveries to the sales floor.
Point-of-purchase fixtures, displays and shelving can either enhance or hamper those efforts, according to industry officials. Some grocers are installing adjustable shelving and spring-loaded systems to make quick work of switching displays or stocking the shelves while keeping the aisles neat and clean.
While these systems have to be functional, they also need to be communication workhorses, grabbing consumers’ attention at the all-important point of decision.
“Gone are the days of static displays,” says Richard Winter, president of Point of Purchase Advertising International (POPAI), an Alexandria, Va.-based trade association. “For example, manufacturers are integrating smart phone applications with displays so that customers can get nutritional information and coupons on their cell phones as they’re standing in front of the display. Supermarkets have focused their dollars on more attractive, appealing and interactive displays to influence shopping behavior.”
For many supermarkets, shelves are replacing kiosks as a way of drawing in consumers and providing information in a digital format. As an example, the shelf-edge marketing systems from Little Rock, Ark.-based Vestcom International can incorporate, among other things, 7-inch touch screens. “This can take the place of a kiosk in some instances,” says Jeff Weidauer, vice president of marketing and strategy. “It puts the screen where the customer is already looking for information.”
Since putting screens on the shelves might not always be feasible, affordable or even desirable, Weidauer says many grocers are looking for ways to use shelf systems to direct consumers to their own screens—on their iPods, Blackberrys and other mobile devices. He says there is growing interest in incorporating QR codes, which users can scan with their smart phones to be directed to a website with product-specific information or promotional offers, for example. “As consumers continue to focus on making healthy choices they want to know more about the products on the shelves and this is a way to get them a wealth of information,” says Weidauer.
Consumers are also looking for suggestions to simplify meal planning, for example, prompting retailers to look for innovative ways to merchandise groups of related products, observers note. Point-of-purchase fixture companies have responded with solutions enabling supermarkets to promote multiple items in a single display.
“Supermarkets are using adjacencies to build the bottom line,” says Gary Forman, president of Henschel-Steinau, based in Allendale, N.J. He points to a recent fixture the company developed to merchandise Dove chocolate with wine. The display is on rollers, so that it can easily be moved to different parts of the store, he notes.
Randy Zaller, senior account executive for Henschel-Steinau, expects retailers to increase their investments in fixtures as they continue to look for ways to grab shoppers’ attention. “They are not only looking for innovative ways to display brand-name products, they are focused on promoting private label products as well,” he says. “And those private label products are available at multiple price points, so the displays have to be effective in quickly communicating those differences.”
In addition to cross-merchandising, retailers are also looking to fixtures to help them define certain areas of the store, according to industry experts.
“Retailers are looking for creative and low-cost ways to create stores within the store,” says Robb Northrup, marketing communications manager for Southern Imperial, based in Rockford, Ill.
The company recently added Fast-Gripz Banner Hangers, which are a low cost banner hanging system designed to grip a sign or banner allowing it to hang freely from the ceiling or be mounted on a vertical surface. The Fast-Gripz Banner Hanger has a rigid, clear PVC body with vinyl fingers for a firm sign holding grip. Fast-Gripz Banner hangers can be used at both the top and bottom of a banner. With the use of the double-sided adhesive strips, the sign can also be mounted to a vertical surface.
In addition to finding more efficient ways to communicate product details and call attention to related products, Weidauer says that fixtures and shelving that make stocking easier are also in high demand. He says the company’s Peg Assist system, for example, can reduce labor by as much as 50%.
Stocking made simple
As lean staffing has become the norm, Tony Kadysewski, marketing communications manager for Trion Industries, based in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., says modern systems address labor issues right from the start. “Good systems offer universal mounts that fit most installation situations. Elimination of threaded fasteners and no-tool installation save money and speed setup, too. Simplified stocking saves labor as well,” he adds.
Product pushers and dividers can help retailers maximize shelf space and labor, according to Marc Tacke, business development manager for VKF Renzel USA Corp., based in Arlington Heights, Ill. “Pushers bring products to the face of your shelf, reducing your labor costs that would normally restock and face these shelves,” he says.
Aside from designs that allow for easy stock, Kadysewski says that there is increasing demand for systems that can accommodate the changing packaging sizes configurations of consumer goods products manufacturers.
We create new solutions to satisfy the new needs of the CPG sector,” he says.
“Using a simple fixture as an example, we have thousands of standard display and scan hook styles for every conceivable vertical display surface. At the complex end of the spectrum we offer shelf management systems that adjust in width to fit whole ranges of product sizes, come in an array of standard depths, and do everything from hang on pegboard, cantilever off back bars, or mount on top of gondola shelves in center store or coolers. Such systems can easily merchandise boxes, bags, clamshells, pillow packs, cups, tubs, cylinders, tubes and more.”
Shelf dividers and price label holders are the answer to frequently changing packaging sizes, according to Tacke. “Shelf dividers can be easily arranged and relocated to ensure complete shelf coverage,” he says. “Price label holders attach easily to shelves, either by clipping on, ‘snapping’ into the c-channel, or by adhesive. In the long run, price label holders save time and money because you can replace expensive adhesive labels with easy to change paper ones which can be relocated frequently.”
In addition, he says straight-entry fixtures allow fast relocation of item-loaded fixtures, and insertion within tight displays or under shelves. “They all work together to allow faster planogram setups, supporting better seasonal merchandising or reaction to market events, opportunities or price advantages,” he says.
With space becoming tight and more products coming to market, retailers are also looking to shelving systems and fixtures to maximize space. One example is Southern Imperial’s new Fastback Peghooks for Gondola Uprights, which company officials say allows retailers to maximize merchandising space for pegged products. They say the hooks provide the solution to adding more SKUs to existing planograms by utilizing gondola uprights.
“The Fastback Peghook for Gondola Upright is aimed at utilizing what is typically wasted space on the gondola upright,” says Tom Valiulis, Southern Imperial’s vice president of sales and marketing. “These peghooks will allow retailers to maximize product packout and reclaim wasted display space. They can create continuous rows of merchandise with no breaks across gondola sections.”
While retailers are focused on labor savings, Kadysewski says reducing shrink is also a major objective. He says when systems are easier to stock employees are more likely to rotate stock properly, for example. “We offer fixtures that lift out for easy rear stocking and date-order sales, addressing the shrink issue of retailing,” he says.
Lance Hutt, director of product management for Twinsburg, Ohio-based FFR-DSI, Inc., says shelf management systems have become increasingly important as supermarkets look for ways to limit shrink as well as reduce labor costs and improve product merchandising. “For example, in the dairy section, product freshness and an overall clean, attractive presentation are of the utmost importance to shoppers,” he says. “While a high-quality dairy department will not bring in non-shoppers, it is important to retaining customers.”
Another important trend is the increased attention to reducing shrink due to “unknown loss,” which includes shopper theft, internal theft and supplier fraud, adds Hutt. “In terms of reducing shopper theft, there is a delicate balance between preventing it and negatively impacting the shopper experience,” he says.
He notes that the company offers a complete array of loss prevention solutions that address various levels of risk, such as its Invisi-Shield line, which prevents theft while minimizing the impact on the consumer. Sliding panels limit shopper access to one facing at a timeto prevent “shelf sweeping” theft, while providing easy product access for legitimate customers during business hours, he notes, and clear panels provide an unobstructed view of the consumer products.
Among the company’s other loss prevention solutions is a proprietary system for infant formula. It dispenses one item at a time, with an eight to 10 second delay before another product is dispensed, to deter shelf sweeping and shoplifting.