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Yes, there IS a difference between POP and POS displays
November 1, 2018

Yes, there IS a difference between POP and POS displays

While many industry players use both terms interchangeably (guilty as charged!), POP and POS displays are not the same thing. This article explains the difference between both types of display once and for all.

Point of purchase vs. point of sale

Contrary to popular belief, marketeers do make a distinction between the so-called point of purchase (POP) and the point of sale (POS). In a nutshell, it all comes down to which part of the store customers find themselves in when a display catches their attention and persuades them to buy the product it’s promoting. While POP displays can be located just about anywhere in the store (near the entrance, in the aisles, in the back, …), POS displays can only be found where the actual transaction (sale) happens, i.e. near the checkout counter.

Popular types of POP displays

Usually (but not always) made of corrugated cardboard, POP displays can promote just about any type of product, from food or cosmetics to household items. Popular types of POP displays include:

  • Three-tiered displays: the showstopper of all POP displays, three-tiered displays owe their success to the magic rule of three.
  • Endcap displays: located at the end of an aisle and arguably the most successful type of POP display out there.
  • Standees that appear to look shoppers straight in the eye.


Products ideal for POS displays

POS displays

Mostly made of corrugated cardboard as well, POS displays (also referred to as counter displays) are designed to stimulate impulse purchases, catching the consumers’ attention as they get ready to pay. Items typically promoted by POS displays include:

  • Chocolate and confectionery products
  • Seasonal products (e.g. sunglasses in the summer and cough drops in the winter)
  • Impulse purchases – those handy items you didn’t know you needed!

Differences in design

As POS displays usually carry a small number of low-priced, light-weight items, designers are wise to specify a paperboard substrate rather than opt for a more costly corrugated or acrylic display. The reverse is true for POP displays, which tend to be larger and must be able to stand on their own while supporting heavier products. Because counter displays also tend to be on the smaller side but have to compete for shelf-space nonetheless, applying color psychology is a must.

The same is true for POP displays, but there is a difference when it comes to the use of text. POP displays are expected to inform consumers to some extent while POS displays, due to their smaller size, can (or must) make do with a short but sweet call to action.

Test your POP or POS display in a virtual store

virtual store

Now that you know where your display will be located and what kind of design you’re going for, how about taking even one step further by visualizing it in store? Many brands and display designers use ArtiosCAD to render 3D designs which marketeers can then subject to focus groups in a virtual store environment rendered by Studio Store Visualizer. Check it out now!


Inspired by ProCorr