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Shelf Displays: The Complete Guide

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The Complete Guide To Shelf Displays

We see this a lot at retail and club stores: simple, non-custom Shelf Displays that get the job done. How can you expect to hit your sales target if you don't invest in your presentation at the store?

You have a great product, a beautiful package, but you left out one thing - your display! A Shelf Display is a great way to grab your customers' attention on the store floor. It's an easy thing for most brands to overlook, but this is precisely the issue we aim to solve.

Though customers are taking fewer trips to retail every year, each trip has tripled in value - meaning you have to catch their attention.

Shelf Displays vary in size and shape depending on retailer requirements but are great for keeping products organized and presentable and for driving brand awareness.

These are a more economical option compared to Sidekicks, Floorstands, and other larger displays - but are just as effective at driving sales. 

We help upgrade brands from plain to premium with our custom digitally printed Shelf Displays. A Shelf Display is a point-of-sale retail display - or POS Display - used to promote and sell products.

Talk with our team today about your next Shelf Display

Aspects of a Shelf Display

  • Can vary in size or shape depending on the retailer's requirements
  • Keep products organized and presented well
  • Very economical compared to other displays
  • Found in most retail locations worldwide
  • Can be shipped Fully Kitted or KDF
  • We are pre-approved with most retailer and club store requirements

Step 1: Determine Your Needs

  • What type of product do you have?
  • Are there new innovations you can implement?
  • How many units do I need?
  • How can this be an extension of my brand?
  • Which retailers/club stores are you selling at?

Step 2: Designing Your Shelf Display

Designing can be a fun process. Whether you’re tackling it, or working with our Creative Services team, you need to consider key things about your retail display, and your customer.

  • Who is your target demographic?
  • How tall are they?
  • Are you selling multiple items?
  • Is this a promotional item?
  • Can you create alternate designs for seasonal/regional messaging?

Need more Design Tips for Sidekick Displays?

Related: How To Use Color Theory With Displays

Step 3: Choose A Printing Style

Choosing a printing option is more than simply looking at cost factors. The technology has been changing over the years, and while some older methods are still proven and effective, newer methods have introduced entirely new ways to attack the marketplace.

Here are three printing options to consider:

Lithography Printing

When it comes to commercial printing needs, lithographic printing is the most used solution. And it’s great if you create a single design to print over and over without much customization.

One of the main issues is the upfront costs for the printing plate and the lead time for the project. If you choose Litho, that means you’re committing to waiting and a portion of your budget before you even get your first box.

This is the way to go if you are looking for a high-volume production run of a single design.

High-Speed Digital Printing

Bennett's digital presses are game-changing for the custom retail display industry. While other companies might tell you that Digital isn’t competitive when running large orders, what they aren’t telling you is with Digital, you can run a variety of designs and be highly cost-effective.

No need to pay for, or wait for, new printing plates to be made!

Digital has been growing in the industry, but only a few brands have taken advantage of this enormous opportunity.

Imagine creating regional messaging, designs for different stores, seasonal or product variation sizes - all without additional costs.

We were the first to invest in a high-speed, single-pass, direct-to-corrugate, 6-color digital press of its kind in North America. If you want to learn more, check out our page on Digital.

Flexography Printing

Flexographic printing will bring your printing costs down, and tooling costs are typically lower.

It has a fast turnaround time that can use both water and oil-based inks. But, compared to Lithography and Digital, Flexography has a noticeably lower printing quality.

It cannot create photo-quality images; smooth colors or gradients will have visible banding. 

The colors aren’t as vibrant or crisp as the other two options, but this printing format is inexpensive. It also doesn’t require much attention to detail and can be produced at very high speed.

High-Speed Digital Printing

Digital printing has opened new avenues for brands to create shelf displays. The most significant advantage of a digitally printed Shelf Display is to use alternate print designs.

By using this approach, you can create seasonal messaging, regionally targeted messaging, or simply create a new look when you need to replace the display. 

Each new print won’t incur additional costs thanks to Digital - because you don’t need printing plates. There’s no slowdown to get you to market.

There are no minimum quantity orders, which is excellent for the initial proofs - but even better if you run 4-versions of a display rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Digital opens up a whole new world of possibilities - and we were among the first to invest in this game-changing technology. That has put us ahead of the learning curve in the industry.

Related: Digital Printing Can Help Make Your POP Display More Sustainable

                  Digital Printing Tips For Sidekick Displays.

Designing With Digital

Here are some design tips to create an effective Shelf Display from the ground up:

Strategic Location

Determining the right shelf is paramount - but once that’s done, you need to consider the customer’s flow of looking at all of your products. They’re walking by - how can you ensure they see each item exactly when you want them to?

Information Architecture

Messaging needs to be clear and motivated. What should your customers know as they pass by the display? What can they see from across the store? Keep it concise and focused! Only the important benefits should be included here.

Product Showcase With Shelf Displays

You want a clean and organized presentation of your products to catch the customer’s attention. They are ideal for showcasing a new product or even a promotional offer to drive purchases.


So many businesses simply fill a quota of products in their display. They forget a customer has to interact with the display and take the product out. That said, you want the display to be easy to restock for retailers to keep selling your items.

Color Science

Each color speaks to the customer on a different emotional level. That's something all designers know. Why not use that on the store floor? Here's an actual opportunity to put that knowledge into practice and create something that matches your brand in a powerful way. 

Match Your Brand Colors

Most manufacturers claim they will match your brand colors accurately, but they're not actually equipped to do that. We have some of the best printing capabilities in North America and promise we can actually match with 100% accuracy. 

Refreshing Your Look

Consider how often you will need to replace your display over the year. Each time you do, it is a chance to attract more customers, so why not harness the power of digital printing and create a fresh look for your display at a fraction of the cost, without slowing your speed to market.

Turnkey Solutions

A great display is key, but don’t forget about things like warehousing and fulfillment. You need a plan to get your display made, packed, and sent out to retailers.

That’s why we offer turnkey solutions, including Contract PackagingShipping Boxes, and Packaging Supplies. The more downtime you have with a display, the less money you make. More on that later.

Retailer Compliance

When creating a new display or updating an existing design, you must be confident that your new partner understands all the current retailer and club store compliance guidelines.

If you design a Shelf Display for retailers that won’t be approved, you will have to start all over. 

You need a partner that not only designs and manufactures Shelf Displays, but also understands the entire production process to get you to the storefront as fast as possible.

Step 4: Establish Your Budget

A successful Shelf Display program depends on your understanding of the entire budget and economics of the entire process.

Setting a budget for your display is essential before beginning the design process.

Without a budget or even a range, the process will become inefficient and aimless. When creating your budget, consider your product's price, profit margin, anticipated sales, and the length of time you expect your display to be in place.

The higher the sales price of your product, the more you should consider investing in your display. 

How Quantity Affects Cost

After material costs, the best way to manage per-unit display costs is volume. Each display design will require tooling, set-up time, and upfront costs.

The longer the manufacturer can run, the more units you can use to spread those costs out.

But thanks to Digital Printing, we can create multiple graphic designs for your display without increasing costs for those changes. Using a single design shape but unique seasonal designs, you can look brand new at retail and keep your costs relatively the same.


If you order 2000 Units at once, You would need to pay all upfront tooling costs, wait for the project to be prepped, and purchase all the materials upfront. Then consider the entire supply chain, including storage, of your 2000 Displays.

If you order 5 runs of 400 Units over 3 Months, You would need to pay all upfront tooling costs and wait for the project to be prepped, but only purchase the initial materials upfront. Then you can actually redesign the graphics of the following 4 orders of 400 Displays.

Although both orders are purchasing 2000 units, the second order has more design flexibility and lower upfront costs to get started in the market. Because of Digital Printing, the difference between short and long runs is no longer much of a factor in cost.

Step 5: Creating a Dieline

Now that you have your design in place, it’s time to transfer it to the structure template, a.k.a, the dieline.

There are a few dieline and artwork preparation and requirements that need to be noted by your designated designer, even if your artwork is done and ready to go. If you do not have a designer, then your packaging company will take care of this for you.


A dieline is typically created on a computer with a designing tool such as Adobe Illustrator, Artioscad, or Adobe InDesign. Measurements need to be precise, to save time and money.

Step 6: Preparing The Artwork

Working with your packaging partner, you will deliver high-resolution artwork for printing. It’s best to speak directly to the company you are working with to determine the exact specifications for their CMYK printing.

At Bennett, we offer access to our award-winning Creative Services to help you design, prep, and deliver all your artwork to our manufacturing teams - and ensure your project details are correct every step of the way.

Pro Tip: Need more clarification on preparing your artwork? Reach out to Bennett if you need help with any of your designs!

Step 7: Creating A Prototype

You should always request a prototype display to confirm the structure and printing for final production, especially if you have a large order.

Once the prototype is created, it can be delivered to you in person or via mail carrier.

We have an array of equipment in our Creative Services Department that will match the exact quality of our High-Speed Digital Printers to allow you to quickly get prototypes - and move your project to production.

Step 8: Production + Shipping

Once you finalize everything, your retail display is ready for production. You can sit back, relax, and wait for the arrival of your display!

Receiving your shipment all depends on your requested timeline, the size of the display, the method of delivery, etc.

It is different depending on your situation, but your account manager will keep you up-to-date with the production and shipping process, ensuring you are always on track.

Learn more about our Contract Packaging


Key Questions:

  • Will your Display be shipped fully assembled or KDF?
  • What is the weight of your Display with your Shipping Box and Supplies?
  • Where will you store your Display?
  • What is the cost for Packaging Supplies?
  • Fulfillment costs, if any?
  • How will you account for returns?

Pro Tip: If you need to order on a consistent basis, speak to our packaging specialists to map out your inventory expectations and schedule. This will make maintaining a healthy inventory flow easier and allow the manufacturer to know exactly when you need it.

Shipping Shelf Displays Fully Kitted

Over the years, we have been delivering fully kitted displays for customers across the United States without issue. The reason you would want to choose this option is to cut down on costs.

The less hands your Displays and products have to touch, the lower your costs.

Shipping Shelf Displays Knocked Down Flat

Shipping KDF is an excellent option if you want to assemble in your own facility and prefer the safer and cheaper shipping method.

Thanks to the stacking efficiency, it’s easy to see why this is a great way to cut costs for some companies.

But, you will need to create and include a set of clear assembly instructions along with a parts list and any tools required for assembly. 

Selecting The Right Box And Shipping Supplies

To ensure your Display arrives safely, it’s important to pick the right type of corrugated material and packaging supplies for the job.

You’ll want to talk to your manufacturer or 3PL provider to consider the best shipping box and packaging material.

Learn more about our Packaging Supplies


ISTA Testing For Shelf Displays

International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) testing helps brands create packaging that protects against shock, vibration, compression, and other atmospheric hazards in the distribution environment.

This allows you to eliminate the need for multiple trial shipments, and get your products to market faster, while also ensuring their survival.

It can also help you negotiate lower freight and cargo insurance rates - due to the confirmed lower risk of shipment damage.

We conduct a range of shipping tests (vibration, drop test, etc.) so that you are certified and ready to go. We partner with you through the entire process and ensure there aren’t any surprises - and if there are, we are prepared to solve them.

You’ll want to make sure your provider can safely deliver your Displays as a 3PL.

Step 9: Following up

One of the most important things you need to do is stay on top of maintenance.

Don’t neglect your display upkeep. Even the best displays will lose their appeal if they look dusty or worn down. Remember, your display represents your brand and your product - if you invest in a great display, you should make sure it stays presentable.

Displays should be checked regularly, even throughout the day. That way, you can be confident they never appear “shopworn.”

If you invest in a great display, you should make sure it stays presentable.

Retail Store Audits

Brands and product companies should regularly perform retail audits to ensure stores’ merchandising is compliant with agreed-upon standards.

The retail store audit process checks merchandising execution, including:

  • Correct product placement, including location in the store.
  • Product expiration dates.
  • Item counts on shelves and in back-room inventory.
  • Count of facing items per SKU.
  • Sufficient and accurate signage.
  • Usage of floor and shelving space.

A number of people can perform audits for you. Retail staff, brands, or even third parties can complete the task, but give them a checklist and get photos.

Audits help retailers and brands hold each other accountable. After all the agreements are in place for floor space allotment, signage, and other elements, retail store audits verify the deal, and everyone is happy.

Thanks to the latest innovations, you can use software that includes inventory management and automated audit-based reordering - all great tools that can further the benefits of audits and help keep your supply chain moving.

More Information On Sidekick Displays

Increase Sales With Sidekick Displays

Benefits Of Sidekick Displays

Bennett Creates Custom Shelf Displays

Bennett is a premier packaging and retail displays manufacturing company striving to protect and promote our clients' products with customized corrugated solutions. When you work with us, you’re part of the family. We will partner with you every step of the way.

With our fully integrated design-to-delivery process, we can be the single supplier source. We are an award-winning manufacturer of virtually anything corrugate. We offer everything from plain brown shipping boxes to sophisticated, high-graphic printed point-of-purchase displays and everything in between.

Talk with our team today about your next Shelf Display

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Shelf Display?

Shelf Displays exist on retail store shelves. They are very economical and great at organizing products and being in high-traffic areas. They showcase products, feature signage, and allow all shoppers to interact with products. Every retailer has their own specifications and guidelines to adhere to.

Are you retailer and club store compliant?

Of course! We have great relationships with all major retailers and club stores and are up to date on the latest specifications and guidelines for complete compliance. If you want to go to Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Costco, Sam’s Club, Bjs, or any other store - we can get you there.

Where can I order retail displays?

Bennett offers a wide variety of retail displays. No matter what kind of product you have or display you need, we can make it. Just Contact Us, and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

What Printing Styles do you offer?

We are able to produce Litho, Flexo, and specialize in Digital. We were one of the first manufacturers to invest in Digital Printing, putting us ahead of the curve. Typically, customers think digital is only useful for small runs. Still, digital allows you to create printing variations and multiple runs of different targeted designs using some of the latest innovations in marketing!