Point of Sale Marketing: How To Optimize Your POS Area For Increased Sales

By Abby Heugel

If you’ve ever walked through a store like Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, TJ Maxx, or Marshalls, you know that they make the most of the space leading up to the checkout counter. Using physical displays with smaller, relevant items, they create a path for customers to wind down on their way to the register.

And it works.

According to a survey by CreditCards.com, “Eighty-four percent of poll respondents say they’ve made an impulse purchase at some time, and 77% in the past three months.” In addition, nearly 80% of respondents made an impulsive purchase in-store, versus just 6% who said they impulsively bought something on their mobile device.

They wouldn’t have ever thought to purchase if the items hadn’t been presented in exactly the right way in the right place at the right time. Once customers are already in the store, it’s up to retailers to get them to interact with and eventually buy more products. How? The answer lies in your point of sale (POS) marketing.

What Is Point of Sale Marketing?

While POS often refers to a point of sale system, it also refers to the customer-product interactions that occur near where the actual sale of the product happens. The goal is to draw the customer’s attention to your products and market to shoppers who are already in the store and ready to make a purchase. When done strategically, it provides a last-minute way for retailers to influence the details of that purchasing decision.

Why Point of Sale Marketing Works

Why is this such an effective way to garner additional sales? First of all, you already have a rapt audience that has made the decision to buy something, which makes it more likely that they’ll be open to buying an additional item — as long as it’s relatively inexpensive. 

Second, relevant “add-on” items can serve as a reminder to customers and trigger their impulse to buy. For example, TJ Maxx offers up snacks — the number one impulse buy — and Sephora 

stocks travel- and sample-sized products in these POS displays, which makes it easy for customers to justify as something they genuinely need to stock up on.

Finally, nobody really likes waiting in line, so why not make it pleasant? Turn what could be considered a shopping nuisance into an extension of the shopping experience. Instead of being bored in line, create a POS display that helps reinforce their decision to buy a product by keeping them engaged and interested while they wait. Chances are they’ll even add that item to their cart. 

Benefits of Effective Point of Sale Displays

Since every shopper ends up at the checkout counter, the location of POS displays almost guarantees that customers will encounter your product during their shopping trip. This makes them the perfect location for products that might not have been on a potential buyer’s shopping list — things like candy, bottled water, lip balm — but that once they’ve encountered them, triggered those impulse purchases. 

Retailers can also use POS displays for pushing promotions such as BOGO or special discounts. Because smaller specialized displays can rest on the counter, it’s easy to incorporate signage to draw the shopper’s attention.

Check out this example from Bath and Body Works:

What To Consider With Your POS Display

While it might sound easy to throw a few impulse items next to the register, creating a great POS display actually takes a lot of forethought, planning, and an eye for detail. You want to engage your target audience and entice them to increase their purchase, which can be done by incorporating the tips below. 

Understand Your Product 

What does it do? How can you make it stand out in your store? Does it stack well? Would it look better hung or placed on a shelf? Take a long, hard look at what you’re offering, and don’t be afraid to experiment. 

Practicality 

Space near the register is limited. Your POS display will become a focal point in your store, so you want to make sure you can fit as many items as possible on the display while still making it look accessible and not overcrowded. Make sure it’s shopper-friendly, meaning it will be more of a product stock area rather than a visual display so that shoppers can easily access the products.

Positioning 

Where you place the display is critical, as products will be browsed at and chosen frequently, meaning you have to be able to easily restock and tidy the space up. Because of this, you want to make sure the design isn’t too bulky or space consuming, creating more of a nuisance for those in line and also for staff in charge of keeping it stocked.

Design 

Most often customers are already in line, but you want an eye-catching design for your POS display that will successfully pull customers in and drive additional sales. Incorporate bold, appropriate imagery that can be seen from a distance and that will draw your customers in and entice them to buy. 

The Most Effective Types of POS Displays

The great thing about POS displays is that they’re a relatively inexpensive way to market to shoppers already in your store. The ideas below are both economical and versatile, and can be tailored to your specific situation. 

Counter Displays 

Counter space is arguably the most valuable real estate in a retail store, but you have to be careful not to overcrowd and overstimulate the shopper with too many options. Consider a countertop unit that highlights fast-moving consumables like small toiletry items, beauty items, or food. Just be sure to never block line-of-sight between the clerk and the customer.

Free-Standing Floor Displays

Freestanding display units are a great option for products that you want to draw attention to. Stocking a new brand of makeup? Selling a cookbook from a local author? Whatever the reason for bringing attention to a particular product, this is a great platform to showcase those items. 

Dump Bins 

Source: jeepersmedia on Flickr

These are most commonly used for small-packaging products like candy bars and toiletries — things that customers might be inclined to grab a few of at one time.  They’re useful for stocking and selling large quantities, and highlighting discount sales. And because they’re free-standing, they can be seen or interacted with from every angle. 

Sales Floor Samples 

Setting up stations near your registers that allow customers to actually try your product before they buy can influence buying decisions and increase sales. Whole Foods does a great job of this, as they invite vendors to set up booths and pass out samples that draw people in.  While you have to be careful that you don’t overcrowd the area, it can be extremely effective to allow customers to sample most consumable goods. See if your suppliers will send sample-sized inventory to your store for free to support your efforts to increase sales.

Further Reading


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.

Specifically, you will:

  • Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
  • Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
  • Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors

    Learn More

The Bottom Line

Your marketing efforts shouldn’t end once a customer sets foot in the store. In fact, your POS displays are a final opportunity to boost sales with last-minute marketing tactics. By taking advantage of all these opportunities, you can optimize your entire retail space and increase sales while also offering shoppers added value, information, and additional deals they might not have otherwise known about. This helps build brand loyalty — and adds to your bottom line. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.