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Comment: Using best practice in P-O-P is the clear way to drive innovation, says Phil Day of POPAI.

How does the retail industry harness innovation by delivering best practice in P-O-P?

We’ve just held the 10th POPAI Awards, recognising and celebrating creativity and innovation within the retail industry.

And over the years, these Awards have provided the industry with a wealth of best practice, offering a marker for brands, retailers and their suppliers to strive towards.

In the past decade, we’ve seen unprecedented change in the retail industry, with advances in technology leading to a multitude of new ways for retailers to communicate and engage with shoppers. In turn, however, these developments also pose significant questions for the high street, with online channels proving increasingly popular with shoppers.

So how do retailers and brand owners rise to these challenges? Through innovation.

This has been consistently at the heart of the very best entries in our awards. How to define innovation has been tricky – is it doing an old thing in a new way, using new materials and manufacturing processes, or is it incorporating new technologies? This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions.

Nor does innovation necessarily mean complication. Many of our best entries have been the simplest – from magnetic strips to hold mini Pringles cans to simple yet brilliant consumer electronic displays, to under-shelf merchandising systems to hold drinks bottles horizontally...

Day to day it can be easy to get immersed in our own sector and job. But the Awards offer a cross-sector lens on the industry, giving entrants the opportunity to see what’s new, fun, creative and, yes, innovative. So you may work for a cosmetics company, but your lightbulb moment comes from seeing a toy display winning display of the year.

It’s all about managing shopper expectations, too. Innovation in many cases is not just anticipated, it is demanded by today’s shoppers. So you could argue there is push from the industry and pull from the shopper.

Ultimately, our Awards seek to answer the age-old, $64,000 question ‘What does good look like?’ It’s a question I’m asked weekly. To this end, our 17 judges pore over entries on their own for several hours and then as a group for a full day to find best-practice and ‘beacon’ cases studies to showcase.

So if you’re looking for the answer, our Awards Gallery - now 10 years old -  is a good place to start.

Phil Day is Director of POPAI UK & Ireland