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The History of Point of Purchase - Point of Sale

POS, FSDU, POP, Point of Sale, Point of Purchase

For as long as humans have been trading with each other, point of purchase (POP) advertising has existed. It may not have been to the sophistication of modern day technology but the principles of presenting a product to a customer have remained similar.

Over the centuries, popular historical professions for example; ‘the market worker’, ‘the pedlar’ and ‘the hawker’ have developed the concept of POP into the system that exists now. By the twelfth century shops were well established in major European cities, and trade in bazaars and shops were becoming increasingly popular. Just like the retailers of today, they needed to display the goods they had on offer. Before the invention of mass production essential products; clothing, food, furniture, footwear and cooking utensils were the main goods being sold and anything else was considered a luxury.

The industrial revolution was a significant turning point in the development of retail and the variety of goods available soared. This economic wealth enabled the ‘luxuries’ to be purchased by those that could afford them, increasing the production of signs, posters and means of displaying products to entice the customers. As the age of the chain store was just beginning, most of these means of advertising were handmade to suit the individual retailers.

Some of the earliest displays of POP were a form of what is nowadays known as brand identity. For example; a set of golden balls representing a pawn brokers or the traditional barber’s striped pole. One well known retailer, ‘Woolworths’ pioneered new retailing techniques in the 20th century gaining success on both sides of the Atlantic. They introduced the concept of browsing before purchasing, and developed a store layout in which the consumer could view, touch and select items before acquiring. To maximise the accessibility of goods ‘Woolworths’ introduced large counters and vertical shelf units. They used simple POP displays for example; jewellery stands and display cabinets for products such as cosmetics.

In the 1950’s western countries witnessed the growth in supermarkets and since this time there has been immense changes in the retailing aspects of the world we live in. As self service selection became more popular, customers wandering around the stores needed something more to captivate their attention. Advances in printing technology provided us with a wider range of materials that were printed for commercial use containing bright colours, pictures and designs. They created eye catching display stands that were not only practical for holding stock, but could also advertise a product coinciding with the introduction of self service retail.

Modern POP designs developed gradually and in the 1960’s free standing floor displays were introduced. The cosmetic companies ‘Max Factor’ and ‘Yardley’ were some of the first to take advantage of vertical display stands. As time progressed the world recognized the increasing competition in POP advertising, both nationally and internationally and that to keep in business the constant need for updating POP advertising was a necessity and not a privilege.

In the UK and worldwide the development of POP is continuous, and the growth of major retailers is steadily increasing at the expense of independent retailers. Momentarily POP advertising is using interactive means to allure the consumer such as digital screens even the use moving images and remote control techniques to interact with the customer.

old pos display

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