10 June 2021

In short, a prototype is an early sample or mock-up of the eventual display that you want to build. They’re typically used to demonstrate and test its core functionality and useability before going into full production.

Why are prototypes required?

Depending on the type of retail display you are planning, your supplier might recommend producing a prototype display before committing to production quantities. This not only enables you to see, feel and interact with the display before full campaign production, but also enables you to test, fine tune and adapt the display.

Prototypes can be placed into trial locations before a full campaign goes live, enabling the ability to gauge its performance, measure its effectiveness and identify any features that you would like to change.

The power of the prototype

Most things look fantastic when visualised, the power of creative software can be used to make anything look possible, even the impossible! Prototypes are essential to prove that the concept that everyone has chosen actually works.

Getting to the prototype stage in the manufacturing process

Most retail displays are completely bespoke, so are designed and developed specifically to a set specification. This means the display can deliver successfully to all aspects of the brief.

The initial stages of the creative production process for retail displays typically begins with the production of visual concepts such as sketches or CAD drawings. These are then shared with the team planning the retail display, along with any other shareholders to gather their feedback.

Once a retail display design concept has been finalised, it’s time to create the prototype.

How much does a prototype cost?

Typically prototypes cost more than the unit price of your quoted production run. There are many reasons for this, such as raw materials and manufacturing methods.

You can read more about this in our Learning Centre article: Why does a prototype cost more

The risk of a no-prototype approach

We’re not going to dwell on this point, but it’s an important factor to consider when planning a retail display. Not developing a prototype of your display is much like buying a house that you’ve never stepped foot in before. Imagine if you get there, and it just doesn’t work for you. By that point, you’re already moving in and it’s too late to back out.  

Take our advice, always say yes to producing a prototype!

What happens after you create a prototype

Okay, so you’ve chosen to go ahead with producing a prototype, then what happens? Your supplier will be keen to present it to you, so that you can get up close, engage with it and get your feedback on its design and functionality.

They’ll also go through any suggested improvements that could be made to enhance the display, or just make it function more successfully overall. This is known as ‘snagging’ and is a compilation of all of your design changes to be made before proceeding into full campaign production.

Depending on your prototype design and objective, you may also decide to place it in place at a trial location to test its effectiveness.

How can I measure the effectiveness of a prototype?

One of the benefits of creating a prototype is user testing, so you can gather real insight into how usable and valuable your display is to your customers. You can gather opinions and insights about how people use the display and what you can do to make shopping from that display as easy and effective as possible.

It’s no secret that retail displays are developed for two reasons, firstly to increase sales and secondly to increase brand awareness. One of the best performance indicators for a prototype retail display is the number of sales it generates in the trial period compared to traditional displays.

How we increased sales by 186% for a confectionery brand:
An example of this is when we produced a parasite unit for a confectionery brand.

By positioning the confectionery off-shelf, in an eye-catching display in a much more prominent, visible position within the store, the sales increased by 186% over the trial period. Needless to say, due to the performance of the prototype the unit was rolled out across 500+ stores.

Getting feedback on your prototype

Getting feedback from both shop staff and shoppers on the performance/shoppability of a prototype is essential and can play a major role in fine tuning the overall design, look and feel of the display before you commit to final production quantities.

From the first discussions and visual concepts, through to picking your preferred option and then actually producing your very first unit that you can touch and feel, developing a retail display a fully immersive experience. Gathering feedback on your display might enlighten you to things that you haven’t yet considered, enabling you to see the wood through the trees.

It’s important to listen to as much feedback as you can, a simple comment back from a shopper could be so vital to its success.

Ready to speak to a Retail Design Specialist?

We’d be happy to help! Our retail design specialists are ready to help you create a retail display that delivers to your objectives and remains within budget.

Want to see what we can do? Take a look at our portfolio

Please contact our sales team on 01530 839777 or email info@threepd.co.uk

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