what retail displays are the most effective

18 March 2021

Retail displays are created with two key objectives in mind: grab shopper attention and drive sales.

When you visit a supermarket to do your ‘big shop’ you will see that all around the store there are multiple brands all fighting for the shopper’s attention.

As a shopper, you may have already made your purchasing decision before you even leave the house, but by implementation of standout in-store promotion, brands can also encourage us to drive an impulse purchase.

In this guide, we investigate the different types of point of sale and retail displays to discover how effective they really are in the retail environment.

Shelf Wobbler

Point of sale (POS) material could be as simple and straightforward as a shelf-edge wobbler, designed to draw shopper attention and standout from the mass of similar products on offer.

Wobblers are a popular display types to communicate special offers, loyalty points or to highlight something special about the product.

Also known as a ‘shelf talker or stopper’, wobblers are the most cost-effective piece of POS and used correctly it’s a powerful way to attract shopper attention.

This type of signage protruding into the aisle has the potential to be seen, but because of its small scale should only carry short, snappy and impactful messages to achieve actual engagement such as ‘new’, ‘special offer’ or ‘brand promise’.

retail shelf wobbler
Shelf Wobbler Retail Display

Clip Strips

Clip Strips are an easy and cost-effective way to create additional impulse sales opportunities for small products throughout a store. Clip Strips are hung vertically and designed to simply attach to already existing in-store furniture, making them quick to implement and highly visible.

As well as creating an additional location within its own product category, clip strips are also used to promote products within other product category areas of the store, like the mentos mints seen hung in the cereal aisle.

Clip Strip Retail Display

Although traditionally used to promote smaller products, Clip Strips can also be designed to create additional selling points for larger products, just like this example for porridge brand Quaker and their Oats so Simple product range.

Co-location with complimentary products helps brands to exploit impulse purchase opportunities, such as snacks and bottle openers in the beer and wine aisles, or baskets of crisps attached to the bottom shelf of chillers for meal deals.

Clip Strip Retail Display for Larger Products

On-Shelf Displays

Another effective way to draw shopper attention to a product or range of products.

Designed to showcase a particular section of the shelf by framing the product, this type of retail display is a cost-effective alternative to other displays such as a parasite or gondola unit.

Typically shop-fitted shelving found in retail is typically very similar, so this type of display can be designed to fit for multiple activations easily.

Brands have the ability to break the mould and be creative, with freedom to use shape, colour and ultimately multiple shelf locations to effectively create an eye-catching display in the primary selling location of the store.

It goes without saying, but shoppers must be facing the shelf in order to read the signage. This means that they need to have their attention caught to encourage them to stop and browse a bay they had not planned to visit.

Signage attached at right angles to the shelving, such as blades, fins, bus stops and wobblers are ideal for catching the shopper’s eye as they transit aisles. As a result, larger signage formats such as blades typically carry strong product images and a bold promotional message, with shorter, punchier messages appearing on smaller signage types.

Cadbury On-Shelf Display
On-Self Retail Display
Kinder Bueno On-Shelf Retail Display

Dump Bins

Designed to drive impulse purchase, dump bins are typically used by retailers in the middle aisle or by the checkout. Filled with individually packed products, they are traditionally used for in-store promotions such as price drop or multi-buy.

Dump Bins are normally made from low-cost materials such as cardboard and have a very basic, functional design.

Cardboard dump bins can be printed with eye-catching graphics and delivered to store as a flat pack display for staff to assemble. More permanent dump bins are made from wire and have the ability to clip on graphics for easily interchangeable promotions.

Wire Retail Dump Bin

Positioned in the right place with the right message, dump bins can be a very effective way to drive unplanned purchases.

Cardboard Retail Dump Bin
Cardboard Retail Dump Bin


A ‘Glorifier’ is a retail display that enables the shopper to experience a product in a unique way.

Both attractive and informative, a Glorifier display is designed to stand out from the crowd and create interest, often displaying the product in a way that the shopper doesn’t expect.

Used for both temporary and permanent activations, Glorifier displays vary in price and ultimately it depends on the display and lifespan requirements.

Glorifiers are an excellent way to create disruption and bring their brand to life, although depending on where the activation will be placed, it also comes with its compromises.

Although great for promotions, when placed on the shelf it reduces space for the product itself. It is a balancing act for brands and retailers to weigh up the benefits of product education against reduced stockholding. 

Temporary Retail Glorifier
Temporary Retail Glorifier
Permanent Retail Glorifier

Counter-Top Display Unit (CTU)

A counter-top unit, or CTU, is a stand-alone display used to encourage shoppers to make impulse purchases.

Normally used to display smaller products at the till point, they are designed to take up as little space as possible whilst creating maximum disruption to the shopper journey.

As they are very successful, you will no doubt have seen many CTUs at petrol station forecourts offering confectionery, snacks, e-Cigarette accessories and Gadgets to be used in cars.

TicTac Countertop retail display
Tic Tac Countertop Retail Display
Pringles Countertop Retail Display
Pringles Countertop Retail Display

You can learn more about Countertop Retail Displays and how much they cost by reading our article: How much does a countertop unit cost

Free Standing Display Unit (FSDU)

A free-standing display unit, or FSDU, is a display that can be positioned wherever there is promotional floor space within a retail environment.

FSDUs are totally independent and separate from conventional retail furniture, so they are often designed to have eye-catching shapes, bright colours and graphics to make them stand out and create as much impact as possible.

Depending on the lifespan required in-store, FSDUs can be made from a wide range of materials.

A great way to increase brand awareness, products on an FSDU are displayed in their own brand environment, with competitor brands not visible in the immediate vicinity. So all in all, a great way to draw attention and solely for your brand only.

Ferrero Freestanding Retail Display
Ferrero Freestanding Retail Display
Kinder Freestanding Retail Display
Kinder Freestanding Retail Display

You can learn more about Freestanding Retail Displays and how much they cost by reading our article: How much does a freestanding display unit cost

End-Gondola/Aisle Displays

Situated on the aisle ends in most supermarkets and convenience stores is where you’ll find the end-gondola or end of aisle display.

Typically, this type of display takes advantage of the existing retail furniture, however in some cases, can be a completely bespoke activation.

When making use of existing furniture the promotional display will typically utilise shelf decoration to make the space stand out as a feature area. This is an extremely cost-effective way to create a standout display in a busy retail environment such as supermarkets and convenience stores.

Carlsberg Retail Aisle End Display
Carlsberg Aisle End Display

A bespoke end-gondola or end of aisle display benefits from almost complete creative freedom. Displays can be designed using a variety of materials, include bold and colourful graphics and incorporate display technology such as media screens for added customer experience.

Lily's Kitchen Aisle End Retail Display
Lily’s Kitchen Aisle End / End-Gondola Display

End-gondola or end of aisle displays are designed to grab the passing shopper’s attention, making this location ideal for product launches, special offers and price promotions.

Side-Gondola Unit

Also called ‘power wings’ or ‘end cap side displays’ these units make use of the space on the side of end-gondolas. Retailers and brands want to make use of as much space as possible and this location provides the perfect opportunity to create more selling space by utilising existing retail furniture.

This selling space is often considered to be better than primary aisle shelving as it stands out on its own and provides the ability to catch shoppers attention with creative design, eye-catching graphics and promotional messaging.

These types of units are normally single branded and provide brands with a great opportunity to drive product sales. A well-designed unit and prime location like this can see a product’s sales uplifted quite dramatically, which is great news for both the brand and the retailer.

Side Retail Gondola Units
Side Gondola Units

Parasite/Impulse Units

These displays are all about encouraging shoppers to make impulse purchases as they make their way around a store. Typically designed especially for purpose, these kinds of displays are often quite creative and can achieve maximum standout in-store.  

Normally manufactured as a “permanent” display using vacuum forming, acrylic and metal, these units are very robust and can generate an incredible number of extra sales during their lifetime. With a long life-expectancy, more units like this are being developed with changeable graphics so that they can be easily updated as the brand(s) evolve.

A great example of this is the parasite unit shown here for Ferrero brand, Tic Tac. By taking the product off the shelf and activating them in a creative way using the iconic shape of a Tic Tac, sales made a staggering increase. 

Parasite units can also be positioned almost anywhere in-store, so it is not surprising that this type of display can increase product sales by several hundred percent.

Parasite / Impulse Retail Display

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