Point of Purchase Marketing: How Retailers Can Optimize POP Areas for Higher Sales

Point of Purchase Marketing: How Retailers Can Optimize POP Areas for Higher Sales

Point of purchase optimization | Shopify Retail blogThink your marketing ends once a customer sets foot in the store? Believing that your work is done is a big mistake, and one that can cost you more sales.

Most marketing efforts aim to help a prospective buyer understand solutions to a problem, evaluate product or service options, and decide to make a purchase.

The methodology varies between initially buying a consumer’s attention or earning it as part of a strategy to build a larger brand audience. But the goals of each are the same: educate, inform, and persuade buyers to make a purchase.

Point of purchase marketing, however, works a little differently.

This strategy attempts to market to shoppers who are already in the store and ready to make a purchase — and it provides a last-minute way for retailers to influence the details of that decision.

Where to Deploy Your Point of Purchase Marketing Strategy

The phrase “point of purchase” may conjure images of wherever customers go to make their purchase and hand over payment.

Placing small, inexpensive, and relevant items on the counter can boost sales. So can using displays of these items to create an area where customers can queue while waiting to check out.

Stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret all use physical displays to create a path for customers to wind down on their way to check out. They place small items that cost significantly less than the rest of the store’s inventory here.

This point of purchase marketing technique works for a few reasons:

  1. Customers have already made a decision to buy something, making them more likely to buy an additional product if it does not significantly add to the total price of their purchase.
  2. “Add-on” type items that are highly relevant to your customers can trigger impulsive purchases or serve as reminders for customers. Sephora, for example, keeps their travel- and sample-sized products in these displays, which are easy for customers to justify as something they genuinely need to stock up on.
  3. You can turn a shopping nuisance — a long check-out line and wait time — into an extended shopping experience for your customers. Your display can keep them engaged and interested as they wait, which maintains their decision to buy a product and reduces the chances they’ll walk out empty-handed simply because they saw a long line at the register.

Point of purchase marketing does include your cash register and checkout counter, but you’re not limited to just these areas in your store. You can get creative with strategies in places like:

  • Various places throughout your sales floor
  • Directly on specific displays or sections of products
  • Customer’s smartphones that they use as they browse

Let’s explore these options to see how you can go beyond the impulse buy at the checkout counter and use point of purchase marketing throughout your store to increase your sales.

Provide Samples, Demos, or Other Experiences on the Sales Floor

Setting up stations throughout your store to allow customers to actually try your product before you buy can influence buying decisions and increase sales.

Whole Foods is well-known for the availability of regular samples throughout their stores. Many locations invite suppliers and vendors into the store on weekends to set up booths and tables where passing customers can snag a sample of their product.

Trader Joe's samples, point of purchase optimization | Shopify Retail blogSimilarly, Trader Joe’s sets up places where customers can sample the store’s own line of foods. Doing so can drive shoppers to choose a Trader Joe’s store brand over another, similar item they also carry.

You don’t need to sell food items in order to allow customers to try before they buy. You can allow customers to sample most consumable goods. And you can even work with your suppliers to see if they’ll send sample-sized inventory to your store for free to support your efforts to increase sales.

Just be careful when setting out samples. Studies show when given too many choices, we simply make no choice as the solution to deal with the overload. That means shoppers may buy nothing at all if they need to make too many decisions.

If you sell items that can’t be consumed, a demo could work in place of providing samples. Best Buy is constantly practicing point of purchase marketing with most of their products because customers can see, touch, and interact with them via sectioned displays. They’ll offer you the chance to try out the latest iteration of PlayStation or Xbox by setting one up and allowing consumers to play a game on the system. They also have a table with the entire line of Apple products available for shoppers to test out.

This gives customers the same try-before-buying experience that can influence their decision. Adding salespeople to the mix, who can suggest additional items and demonstrate how those add-ons will provide more value to the initial purchase, can increase sales even more.

Or take the single sample station idea and turn it into an entire, storewide event as a way to influence customers’ specific purchasing decisions after they’ve already made up their minds to shop with you.

To increase the chances of bringing in shoppers who are likely to buy — and to add an air of exclusivity for customers to make them feel valued — use your point-of-sale (POS) system (POS) to track sales and what customers purchase at such an event.

Template Icon

Free Email Guide

Are your emails costing you sales? Get our free guide full of additional tips to help retailers create high-impact emails.

Get the free guide


You can send that group of customers an invitation to your event. Wine Riot, a company that runs a series of wine tasting events along with a retail store in Boston, Mass, kicked off 2017 with a personalized email to 300 of their top customers.

Email marketing promotions, point of purchase optimization | Shopify Retail blog

You can do the same and include discounts or promotions, or simply let your customers know about your event with their invitation.

Create a “Pop-Up Shop” for Your Own Inventory

Pop-up shops usually allow other brands to temporarily set up within another retailer’s store. But you can use this technique to showcase a particular line of products or segment of your own inventory.

Shake the Tree, a specialty boutique retailer in Boston, periodically changes up curated displays within its store. They currently feature a corner stocked exclusively with barware – including glasses, cocktail shakers, and recipe books — that fits the vibe of their shop but features unique items that stand out against their other lines of inventory like clothing and accessories.

Shake the Tree pop-up shop, point of purchase optimization | Shopify Retail blogThe store’s customers probably didn’t come into the store specifically to buy barware. But the pop-up-inspired display creates a sense of fun and novelty, which can inspire customers to make additional purchasing decisions once in the space.

Try highlighting a new brand or creating a seasonal-inspired shop to increase sales of a limited-time item.

Not only will you be marketing right in store, but with the seasonal strategy you’ll create a sense of urgency around the fact that buyers need to make a purchase decision now before the product is gone.

Build an App for Customers to Use In-Store

Customers today are more motivated to seek out the absolute best prices and deals before they buy. 84% of millennials use smartphones in stores to assist them in a purchasing decision.

So meet them there with a branded retail app they can use to shop with you. The specific features of your app will largely depend on your store and the products you sell, so audit other retailers’ apps to brainstorm ideas for your own.

You can include a variety of functions, including:

  • Offering deals to customers directly in store, like Target’s Cartwheel app.
  • Generating loyalty by providing rewards (and gamifying the shopping experience by allowing customers to earn points), like Starbucks’ app. Learn how to create your own customer loyalty program.
  • Giving customers a chance to provide feedback and share about their experience in a simple and easy way, like Render Coffee does:

Render Coffee customer feedback, point of purchase optimization | Shopify Retail blogAlternatively, you can use your POS system to closely track customer activity and purchases. With this data, you can provide customized offers and discounts to specific shoppers to increase sales or encourage a return visit to the store.

TRY SHOPIFY POS: Want to give Shopify's point of sale systems a test run? Start a free Shopify POS trial today.

You can send out coupons via email, or you can print offers directly on your receipts (like CVS does for ExtraCard users).

Optimize Your Point of Purchase Areas to Drive More Sales

Your point of purchase marketing can span your entire store, from useful displays that influence shoppers to indulge in unique or novelty items to stations where they can sample the products or at least test them out via a demo.

Your efforts can even include salespeople if they can provide guided demonstrations or trials. They can also act as a resource to customers engaging with displays or samples and assist them in making a purchasing decision.

As customers roam around the store, they can interact with a mobile app on a smartphone — which, if done correctly, can increase sales and sway decision-making through special offers, specific discounts, or information on a specific product line (and where to find it within the store).

And of course, the literal point of purchase at the cash register is a final opportunity to boost sales with last-minute marketing tactics.

Take advantage of all these opportunities, and you can optimize your entire retail space for point of purchase marketing that increases sales while feeling like a benefit for shoppers, through added value, information, and deals.

How do you use point of purchase marketing to increase your sales? Share your tips in the comments below.

Photo of Kali Hawlk

About the Author

Kali Hawlk is a writer passionate about using her skills and knowledge to help others make, do, and create more. She’s been featured as a financial expert for Millennials in many online publications including Forbes, Fast Company, US News, and Mashable.

Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify