POP ism!!

POP ism!!

It is one of the oldest marketing principles. You build a better mouse trap and people will beat a path to your door. As a marketer, I often pop this question at myself: Is there is a thin line when describing the product-consumer entity? Does the consumer buy the product or the product buys the consumer? As a consumer I often ask myself: Do I own the product or does the product own me as soon as I enter an outlet to make a purchase decision? The latter looks more plausible now as the complete landscape of retail outlets transforms. This is where POP (Point of Purchase) display plays its decisive role.

Purchase decisions at outlets are largely dependent on many factors that make up the POS (Point-of-Sale) or POP display. The first step is to take an objective view of the merchandise mix which simply put is the breadth and depth of the products carried by retailers. Product assortment at a retail outlet is the queen of all strategies. It is Plan A of 'how to bait the customer'. Also called visual merchandising, it is the art of implementing effective design ideas to increase store traffic and sales volume.Two broad categories of consumers step into an outlet:

SELF - SERVICE TECHIES: More interested in doing it themselves. More focused on speeds and feeds. Drawn to stores / displays featuring the newest, latest technologies.

ASSISTANCE - SEEKERS: Looking for assistance, recommendations. Care must be taken not to provide too much information which can overwhelm product uses as important as speeds and feeds.

The first purchase and use of a new product by a consumer or trial is an essential step on the road to recurring revenues. A general rule of thumb is that a prospect will need to hear about a product 7 times before the trial. Trust must be obtained if consumer trial and loyalty are to be achieved. Core relevant information or salience, in addition to its relevance as a quality of content for selling or branding, can be a determinant and predictor of immediate trial and revenue growth. "Vertical" salience is a single individual's knowledge of a brand. Salience becomes "horizontal" when information is exchanged between individuals.

So how do you cash in on the need state? The condition of a consumer defining their receptivity to considering and acting upon a brand identity or trial opportunity is what a 'need state' signifies. For example, when listening to radio, a consumer needs different information to encourage intended brand perception than the information needed at a point of purchase to activate a sale.

Creating an attractive product display can draw the customer in by promoting a slow-moving item, announce a sale or welcoming a season. If your store front is fortunate enough to feature one or more windows, then you have one of the most proven (and least expensive) forms of advertising at your disposal. Critical consideration must be given to the flow of traffic in your store. Are there any areas that are a focal point for customers? There will most probably more than one!

ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE VISUAL MERCHANDISINGBalance: Asymmetrical rather than symmetric balance with the display.Size of Objects: Place the largest object into display first.Color: Helps set mood and feelings.Focal Point: Where product and props/signage and background come together.Lighting: Should accent focal point, if possible.Simplicity: Less is more so know when to stop and don't add too many items.

So what's on the cards to make a display more tech-savvy? You can look into liquid crystal displays, plasma display panels and scrolling message boards as a few of the more common in-store devices used to project full-motion video, sound and text.

Digital signage enables a retailer to control and display their messages quickly and effectively. Creating a digital signage system involves building a network of electronic devices that are controlled remotely from a central location. These devices present information via digital signage software to a targeted audience. Digital signage devices in the network may be plasma or LCD monitors, kiosks, projection displays, HDTV s or other electronic devices. Using digital signs in a retail environment has many features and benefits not offered by static displays and signage.

Dynamic digital signage can grab a customer's attention and influence their purchasing decision right at the point of purchase. It also eliminates the high cost of creating and distributing print ad campaigns. Digital signage is instant and offers the ability to change promotions immediately for various products or particular customers. Another advantage of digital displays over static is that retailers can earn money with their digital signage network by selling advertising space to their suppliers.

Whether it is intended to build a brand, influence customer behavior or simply provide information, the dynamic visual experience created by digital signage should ultimately increase sales.

This is however not that cheaply purchased and therefore would require serious planning to justify the retailer's return on investment. Other considerations include deciding where the electronic devices will be located and what sign software package to use. Retailers also have choices in network connectivity and should understand the different distribution options available before building a network of in-store digital signage.

A playlist must be kept which is a schedule defining the order and duration of content to be displayed. When digital signage display and connectivity infrastructure are used to deliver live programming such as new product instructions, training, sponsored events, non-ad revenues are generated for the signage network owner. Desire is not absolute. Creating intensity of desire which will result in revenues is the marketer's job and increase footfall or store traffic.

Consistency of message content and tone across each delivery mechanism and communications is either brand-building or "de-branding". Inadequate product knowledge can de-brand (and lose the sale) when prospects arrive for purchase with more knowledge than sales staff. The passion and vision of the CEO is lost without communications to "the front lines" of customer service.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is used in Digital Signage networks to provide secure, reliable connectivity as a private network but at much lower cost. Using a VPN the Digital signage network can operate outside of the internet or other organizational connectivity infrastructure to assure cost-effective, secure and reliable network operations at required levels.

POS for hospitality services have revolutionized the restaurant industry. This is particularly found in fast food service and sales. A number of restaurant chains employ systems which use computer networks. In the most recent technologies, registers are virtual computers, sometimes using touch screens. They will connect to a server, often referred to as a "store controller" or a "central control unit." Printers and monitors are also found on the network. Additionally, remote servers will connect to store networks and monitor sales and other store data. The efficiency of such systems has decreased service times and increased efficiency of orders. Currently, POS systems are manufactured and serviced by several firms.They can use a variety of physical layer protocols, though Ethernet is currently the preferred system.

Wireless point of sale (wireless POS or WPOS) is the use of wireless devices to facilitate order-taking or payment for products or services. As a rule, a wireless point of sale system consists of a base station directly connected to a central server computer and one or more handheld computers or other devices (PDAs) that communicate wirelessly.

WPOS can streamline many processes and may include the ability to record and track customer orders, finalize sales, connect to other systems in a network, and manage inventory.

Advertising should be built around impulse purchasing and that utilizes display designed to catch a shopper's eye particularly at the place where payment is made, such as a checkout counter. There are various types of point-of-purchase displays, including window displays, counter displays, floor stands display bins, banners of any kind, and all types of open and closed display cases. Generally, these displays are created and prepared by the manufacturer for distribution to wholesalers or retailers who sell the manufacturer's merchandise. Often, a manufacturer will discount the cost of merchandise or in some other way compensate the retailer for using a point-of-purchase display.

Very concisely a retail outlet is the marketer's canvas. In Shakespearean terms 'If POP is the food of a retail outlet, play on'!!

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