Point-of-purchase companies face difficult working conditions in the fast-moving packaged goods sector, with clients demanding quick turnaround on projects to keep ahead of the competition. However, from a point of display production perspective, there are real obstacles that lengthen the lead time on commissions.
The Charapak Group already had experience of the difficult time scales for PoP development when it entered into talks with Tesco Home Shopping about the provision of point-of-sale materials to highlight Tesco’s catalogue shopping service to customers.
Tesco’s joint venture with Grattan offers non-food products on home-shopping channels through catalogues in the baby, children’s, home and gift markets. Initial attempts to promote the service through direct mail yielded disappointing results, and a major point-of-purchase offensive in Tesco Stores was launched.
Steve Kirkbride, stores marketing manager for Tesco Home Shopping, says: “Our brief to Charapak was to create PoP units to promote our catalogue business in store. We asked them to look at all areas of the store and create devices that would clearly promote the products and services on offer. Whether the solutions were wall-mounted, counter-top or floor-standing, they had to be compact and unlikely to hinder customers.”
So far, so good. However, Tesco had additional requirements which did not prove so easy to meet. The non-negotiables of the project included the fact that in-store PoP for Tesco Home Shopping has to reflect what appears in the seasonally compiled catalogues. In addition, the lead items which are central to the PoP displays are often not confirmed until the last minute, while launch dates of services and merchandise are fixed. To add to the general stress, Tesco requires multiple internal sign-offs at each stage of the process.
Clearly, time was of the essence in this commission, and previous experience of PoP companies did not bode well. “Traditionally, PoP companies have problems in that the creative development of a PoP concept can take many weeks,” says Kirkbride. “There are usually lengthy delays in the costing cycle and it often takes a long time to produce the tooling and do the modelling and prototyping for the PoP product. Given all these factors, the average lead time (for production only) on corrugated displays is five or six weeks.”
Having studied Tesco’s requirements, Charapak promised to deliver a better time-scale and service if Tesco would give them the entire PoP project to manage and produce from conception to production. As a result, Charapak was able to bring production time down to 14 working days, inclusive of print and manufacture, palletising and distribution to central warehousing.
Kirkbride says: “This method of working also reduced supply chain inefficiency and provided higher quality control.”
Charapak had the advantage of being able to turn around the production quickly thanks to its investment in reference catalogue In-Store Solutions, according to business development manager Mark Bunnell.
Charapak does provide custom-built displays, but also pre-designed corrugated PoP displays. The latter were developed to offer users a quick reference system for sourcing in-site PoP products. The reference catalogue provides 75 initial designs and are all manufactured to order. Bunnell believes this ready-to-use system is the first of its kind in the UK.
“Although the unit we made for this promotion didn’t use our pre-designed displays, and was custom-designed, we have a large database of design components from which our designers could draw,” says Bunnell. “The beauty of this approach is that it gives the buyer immediate access to creative PoP solutions and yet takes out the expense of initial design and tooling costs. Any of the designs can be customised to fit a product and printed to specification.”
In addition, there was more scope to work up until the last minute than would otherwise have been available because Charapak is totally integrated in its design and manufacturing units.
“We were able to spend more time prototyping, and delivered colour mock-ups at one-third scale. Then we delivered full-scale prototypes, also in full colour, before the final production process.”
Simple and cost-effective
For Tesco’s purposes, the materials used in the promotion were designed to be simple and cost-effective, as well as durable to survive the intended siting at checkouts.
“We used corrugated board with a litho laminated anti-scratch finish for the display. This is a strong, clean and recyclable material which can be printed and converted for striking effects at the point of purchase. Tesco requested extra units to be held in stock to allow for damage on site, and to date we are not aware of any of these needing to be used,” says Bunnell.
The design element of point-of-purchase materials must fit in with strict demands in the supermarket environment, says Kirkbride.
“Our in-store channel is a cost-effective method of displaying our catalogues to every Tesco customer. Attractive point-of-purchase displays and prominent in-store sitings go hand in hand with effective marketing campaigns. Customers need to be able to see the product without the feeling of being obstructed by the displays while shopping.”
Kirkbride notes that this campaign is larger and more aggressive than any Tesco marketing campaign to date. Predictably, the take up is greater than from previous campaigns.
“The promotion was rolled out in all our store. Although we did concentrate mainly on point-of-purchase displays to promote the catalogues, the promotion was backed up by hanging boards and posters within the stores.”
For Charapak, the success of the Tesco promotion is an indication of the gains to be had by those suppliers willing to change their traditional approach to PoP design and production.
Bunnell says: “The challenge for all PoP providers is to increase their service offerings, and to meet the ever increasing demands of the retail environment and the manufacturers and retailers who are at the sharp end of it.”
In terms of scale alone – Bunnell notes that 1,500 pallet-loads of displays moved between his company warehouses and the retail outlets in the process of the promotion – this is a tall order, but the rewards are clearly there for those who have the capacity to do it.