Reimagining Your Retail End Cap Displays: Strategy Tips + Design Ideas

end cap

Thanks to their high-profile, end-of-aisle position, shoppers pay extra attention to retail end caps — and that means you should, too.

From over-the-top eye-grabbers to workmanlike displays that get the job done without being too flashy, well-thought-out end cap features can make a world of difference when it comes to getting customers to engage with your products or brand.

Of course, end caps are about more than just displaying merchandise; they’re often designed to tempt shoppers to experience a product or to give select brands a visual boost. They also assist shoppers in navigating from one category into the next throughout the store, sometimes offering clues to what they’ll find in the aisle.

Retail End Cap Display Ideas [Illustrated]

end cap glasses

Eyewear End Cap (Seasonal)

The annual advent of “sunglass season” in the retail industry triggers a tremendous amount of planning, coordination and creativity between sunglass brands and the retailers who sell them to the consumer. This stylized eyewear end cap and in-aisle display resulted from a collaboration between Foster Grant, Walmart and VCI-Rose Displays.

end cap sneakers

‘Big Picture’ Footwear End Cap [+ In-Aisle Display]

Upon approach into the footwear department, the first thing shoppers notice here on the end panels is the large format graphic image. This is an example of using large-scale graphics to “tell a story” — one that connects to the idea of an active lifestyle.

In this case, positioning the large “active lifestyle” image to connect shoppers to the active lifestyle footwear aisles might be described as using a “dynamic visual cue” that assists with “visual navigation.”

grocery end cap

Grocery End Cap – Multi-Use Fixture

This “Healthy Eating” end cap tells a curated product story (good-for-you food) while subtly evoking themes that include “farm to table” (the fresh oranges) and “eco-friendliness” (the natural wood materials).

Staples End Cap

Staples End Cap

This Staples end cap is an excellent example of how illuminated signage and graphics can be used to invite shoppers to engage with products. Sometimes the strategy is to showcase high-profile brands to signal to shoppers that you’ve got the popular name products they are looking for.

end cap design

Home & Office Notebook End Cap

Not all end caps are created vertically. This neatly appointed custom millwork fixture shows there is no rule that says end caps can’t claim horizontal space as well. It’s also an example of how end caps can be created to serve as a feature destination for shoppers to meet and experience select products and brands. The illuminated signware commands attention and invites visitors to use the featured products to “Organize Your Ideas.”

home and office end cap pen display

Home & Office End Cap Pen Display

“Let Your Imagination Run Free” with these colorful, high-quality pens is another example of combining strong visuals with aspirational messaging to engage shoppers — in this case, to literally enjoy a tactile, “hands-on” experience with the product by drawing or doodling with the pens and paper provided here.

Home & Office Moleskine Notebook End Cap

Home & Office Moleskine Notebook End Cap

Interactive and aspirational, this Staples illuminated end cap brings you closer to the featured brand (Moleskine, maker of classic and high-tech notebooks, invites customers to “unleash your human genius” by “bringing paper and digital together”), while the retailer announces to curious shoppers that, yes, it has the next-generation technology in a popular and well-known product line.

kindle end cap

Kindle End Cap

This end cap showcasing the Amazon kindle is an example of how brands can transform an existing gondola to invite shopper engagement. Underneath the Kindle table is an existing gondola unit that VCI-Rose “dressed up” and retrofitted to create the look of a more upscale fixture.

Golf end cap

SmartStand™ End Cap

This golf-themed end cap utilizes our SmartStand™ interactive kiosk to combine technology, illuminated signware and custom designed fixtures to deliver unique and memorable experiences that inspire shoppers to engage with your products and your brand.

illuminated interactive end cap

Illuminated Interactive End Cap

This audio gear end cap is a good example of using an illuminated fabric backer to attract shoppers, and then to engage them to try out the featured headphones.

Tips for Design Effective, Eye-Catching End Caps

OK, ready for a rapid-fire recap of some additional, traditional end cap tips, best practices and strategies? Let’s go. First up, this page of end cap examples from Statusphere illustrates such important strategy tips as:

  • Set the Scene – Like Stella Artois did by constructing a Christmas-themed doorway out of their 6- and 12-packs (also a good example of the “seasonality” theme cited above).
  • Go Larger Than Life – Pepsi went super big with a massive, can’t-miss display for the Super Bowl.
  • Match Your Brand’s Personality – The M&M’s brand is best known for their brightly colored candies, so they fashioned a very brightly colored end cap.

Additional end cap strategy tips and design ideas include:

  • Emphasize the Banner – Traditional end cap design emphasizes using a strong headline-style banner to let shoppers know at a glance who you are and what your message is. This is still important, but today the banner concept is being reimagined with more and more creative ideas.
  • Break the Rules – The rule of thirds is vital to design, photography and art. It has also served as a helpful guideline for crafting basic end cap displays, with one school of thought suggesting: top third for the banner, middle third for product messaging, bottom third for the product. Imagining your end cap in sections can be a helpful organizing strategy, but today’s most important themes are creativity and clarity.
  • Entice Shoppers into Your Aisles – Positioning an end cap whose design and contents connect directly to what shoppers will find in the adjacent aisle is a common and helpful way of using end caps to assist shoppers in navigating your store.
  • Let There Be Light – The power of illumination to attract and engage shoppers will always be a powerful tool in your end cap strategy, as well as in your overall approach to visual merchandising. Attractors like illuminated light boxes and integrated shelf lighting can be used in countless ways to enliven the in-store experience.
  • Go High-Tech – Incorporating technology into your end cap strategy is a great way to prompt shoppers to interact with important merchandise and/or displays. For example, see how this interactive SmartStand display can integrate the personalization and convenience of online and mobile shopping into your end cap strategy with touchscreen displays and eye-catching LED lightboxes.
  • Tell a Story – Another way to approach the “tell a story” aspect of end cap display strategy is to think of it as using your imagination, having fun and letting the display “speak” to shoppers about the product, the brand or, best of all, the experience they will have with whatever is featured in the display.

Maximizing Prime ‘Locations’ with End Caps

Of course, one of the most important reasons to pay special attention to your end cap strategy is that these displays are positioned in what are some of the most important “locations” within your store. It is important to keep in mind that the end cap displays you position at the end of each aisle are occupying valuable, highly visible “real estate.”

Hopefully, some of the ideas and images shared here will help get your creativity flowing. And ideally, some of the end cap best practices discussed here will also fuel your inspiration.

Custom solutions and imagination allow retailers and brands to be even more strategic and efficient with the use of these vitally important spaces. Here at Visual Creations/Rose Displays, we have worked with some of the nation’s best-known brands and retailers, across all retail industry segments, to help create these special experiences for shoppers.

To continue the conversation about how you can use end caps displays to catch the shopper’s eye and drive engagement in your retail space, don’t hesitate to contact us about your next project or about any of your in-store display and fixture needs.

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