POP vs. POS: Are They the Same, or Different?

Posted on 05, November, 2015

Last Modified on 01, March, 2023

Is there a difference between “point of purchase” (POP) and “point of sale” (POS)? If you've never really been sure, you're not alone! Even retailers can get confused when comparing the terms. But let's keep it simple. If you're on the cashier's side checking someone out, this transactional area is referred to as the "point of sale". The meaning shifts slightly when you're standing on the other side of the counter in the customer's shoes. From that perspective, it makes more sense to call this the "point of purchase." So in one sense, the terms are interchangeable. But in another, leaving it there clips our marketing wings! Read on to learn how broadening your definition of "point of purchase" beyond the checkout counter drives sales numbers.

What is a POP?

POP Cardboard Retail Display

POP stands for “point of purchase," or the area strategically chosen for product placement because it is a customer pass-through, and merchandise displayed here is highly visible. A good example of a "POP" area would be a cardboard cutout display featuring seasonal items placed at the end-stop of a grocery store. Calling out products from regularly displayed shelf goods is a way to get customers to take notice. Is the fixture itself a POP display? Yes. But here, we're focused on key areas for product placement that are planned throughout a store. In this case, the POP area is at the end of an aisle. More designated POP areas typically where special items are called out include the back wall, on pallets, behind a register, in an entry-way, or on a checkout counter to encourage impulse buys. Targeted product placement in high-traffic areas typically results in moving merchandise from the display fixture to the shopping cart.

What is a POS?

"Point of sale" (POS) is an area in a store where a customer completes the last leg of a purchase - and it is turned into a sale. The register counter is a key location where shoppers line up to process their purchases. This is the final stage of the buying journey where they take out their wallets and offer their debit, credit card, or cash to pay for the item in their cart. With today’s technology, POS does not pertain to only brick-and-mortar retail stores, but also applies to online e-commerce sites. With online shopping, the POS is where the virtual shopping basket resides on the web page. People get confused because they think the term POS always refers to a point of sale fixture like an iPad with a credit card reader, also known as a retail management system, which houses the software that processes electronic sales transactions and updates stock inventory.

POP Displays

Counter POS Rack

POP displays are merchandising fixtures that are used at "points of purchase". Lightweight cardboard, metal, and wooden displays make perfect POP displays for food items, dog chew toys, hair accessories, greeting cards, CDs, DVDs, seasonal goods, and more. Plastic dump bins, corrugated cardboard stands, wire baker's racks, and metal store shelving can be used separately or together to create an engaging promotional showcase around featured merchandise. Some display fixtures come with headers for customizing a logo, tagline, or calls to action that encourage last-minute purchases. Planned goods promotion at strategic spots in a store is a subtle but extremely effective way to move merchandise.

POS System Displays, Store Fixtures & Hardware

pos displays with credit card reader

POS displays are used at the actual "point of sale" location in a store or showroom and help facilitate the final step on the buying journey. Tablet enclosures and touchscreen mounts display the technology that processes these transactions and inventory updates. Our POS touchscreen system mounts free up both hands so a salesperson can enter the appropriate information more comfortably. Commercial iPad and Android tablets with credit card readers can be seen in most stores now, whether the tablets are mounted to the wall, floor, or counter. Retailers have the option of integrating a Kensington lock with the bracket to prevent theft. These POS system mounts offer a variety of options that customize each touchscreen to user needs, from covered and revealed "home" button or camera, to tilting and rotating options for viewing an array of different subjects. Our POS systems come in myriad styles with arms, clamps, cases, and bumpers.

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