10 June 2021

Developing a retail display prototype is a clever move to make when planning a larger retail marketing campaign. Not only do they give you the opportunity to test and gather feedback from the wider marketing team, stakeholders and shoppers, but they also present the perfect opportunity to finesse your display before proceeding into full campaign production.

But why do prototypes cost more? Let’s explain…

Raw materials

When purchasing the raw materials required to make your prototype display, your supplier will have to purchase a minimum amount of each raw material, e.g. two sheets of acrylic and one sheet of metal.

This will normally result in some wasted material as the yield from each raw material is not being maximised as you are only making one unit at this stage; Therefore, the raw material costs for producing one unit are higher.

Machine setup and tooling

In order to produce your prototype, your supplier will then have to configure and set-up the required machinery to cut/fabricate the raw materials to shape e.g. laser/metal cutters/CNC routers/vacuum forming machines.

The time taken to set these machines up costs the same whether producing one unit or one thousand, however all this set-up time is apportioned to one prototype unit rather than a larger production run.


Once all the component parts have been made your supplier will then need to assemble the prototype display.

This is the first time that your display will have been assembled and will take longer per unit compared to producing a larger quantity, when your supplier will establish an assembly line involving more people so that the overall assembly process is as efficient as possible.


When your prototype display is ready it will need to be delivered to your requested location. That might be to your office, retail store or test site.

The per unit delivery costs are always higher when you are delivering one unit rather than a quantity.

To summarise

There is no clever formula that you can use to calculate a prototype price from a production price, or vice-versa, as it’s totally dependent on the type of raw materials and assembly time required to create your display.

Consider it a worthwhile investment.

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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