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Store Fixture Transportation: Shipping Retail Displays

September 28, 2023 | By Joe Weaver
Last Modified: January 26, 2024
Learn the ins and outs of store fixture transportation from industry experts. Discover challenges and effective packing methods for last mile delivery.

Store fixture transportation can be tough on these often delicate displays, making damage prevention a challenge in retail logistics operations. From glass shelves to intricate POP displays, each piece needs to arrive in pristine condition.

The National Retail Federation says that retail fixture transportation is a core component of retail logistics management. It involves the careful transport of store fixtures from manufacturers to retailers. These fixtures are essential for driving sales. Their fragile, yet bulky construction can make transportation difficult. 

In this article, we’ll examine the finer details of retail display shipping. You’ll learn how to ensure your retail fixtures reach their destination in tip-top shape.

Store Fixture Transportation in Retail Logistics

Commodities such as olive oil, pickled vegetables, and skin care products positioned on shelves which arrived in the store via store fixture transportation.

In retail shipping, it’s not just merchandise that needs to be transported; store fixtures also have their own set of logistics challenges. So, what are store fixtures? Essentially, these are the shelves and racks used to display products in a store.

Retail fixtures are the bedrock of visual merchandising, showcasing products in a way that drives sales. However, their bulky size and sometimes delicate materials can create unique challenges in the retail supply chain. This is especially true when you’re shipping glass display cases or large, assembled units.

To understand how to ship these units damage-free, we should first examine the two most common configurations in which they’re transported. This will give us greater insight into the practice of store fixture logistics.

Knock-Down vs Assembled Displays

Refrigerated glass cases containing deli meats.

When it comes to fixture logistics, you generally have two choices: knock-down displays and assembled displays. Each has its own set of advantages to consider based on a business’ circumstances.

Knock-down displays are fixtures that have been designed to be disassembled into smaller, more manageable parts. These are shipped from distribution centers in a compact form and re-assembled at their final destination.

Some advantages of knock-down displays include:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Knock-down displays generally cost less to ship due to their smaller size.
  • Less Risk of Damage: Smaller parts mean less surface area exposed to risks like bumping or scratching. This is especially helpful with fragile materials like glass.
  • Easier to Handle: Their manageable size makes it easier for a single person to move and handle these components.
  • Flexibility in Transit: The smaller, modular parts can be fitted more easily into shipping containers or trucks, making the best use of space.

Best practices include using protective padding between each component and securing all pieces in place to prevent shifting during transit.

Assembled displays are ready-to-use fixtures that are shipped in their final, constructed form. They are often bulky and require more hands-on care during transport.

When assembled, generic assembled displays fall within the following dimensions.

Display TypeApproximate Dimensions
Floor24”L x 24”W x 72” H
Countertop12”-14”L x 12”-14”W


On countertop displays, height will vary somewhat based on the height of the counter itself.

Assembled displays have their own advantages, such as:

  • Time-Saving: Since they arrive ready to use, you save on assembly time since they can simply be moved into place and stocked with goods.
  • Product Integrity: With no assembly required, there’s less chance of something going wrong, like missing hardware or misalignment.
  • Simplicity: There’s no need to worry about keeping track of various parts or assembly instructions.
  • Sturdiness: Assembled displays are often more robust, as they’re built to be sturdy from the start.

Handling assembled displays can involve specialized equipment like oversize pallets or flatbed trucks. Make sure to secure all parts properly to prevent any movement or damage during transit.

The choice between knock-down and assembled displays will depend on various factors, including the complexity of your fixtures, the distance they need to travel, and the resources you have available for loading and unloading. Consider the above advantages to make an informed decision.

Retail POP Displays

Cosmetics and skin care products arranged on a shopping aisle end cap.

Point of Purchase (POP) displays are strategically placed retail store fixtures designed to catch a shopper’s eye and encourage impulse buys. These displays are usually situated near the checkout area or in other high-traffic spots within a store. 

POP displays are unique because they’re designed to draw attention and are often thematic or seasonal. For instance, you might see a POP seasonal display featuring sunblock and beach items during the summer months or one showcasing holiday-themed merchandise in December.

The most common types of POP displays are:

  • Countertop Shipper Displays: Designed to fit on flat surfaces, countertop displays are often used at checkouts. They encourage impulse buys such as gum, magazines, or small gadgets.
  • Standalone Displays:These attention-grabbing displays can be placed almost anywhere on the retail floor. They can hold more and larger items than countertop displays.
  • Shelf-Mounted Displays: This display fits onto a store’s existing shelves, catching customers’ attention with subtle but noticeable aesthetic enhancements.

It’s good to look at the pros and cons of each. For example, countertop displays are typically smaller and may require less intensive packing solutions, whereas standalone displays might be larger and require more careful handling to prevent damage.

Understanding the types of POP displays and their individual needs is crucial for effective and safe transportation. 

Transporting Retail POP Displays

POP displays often include intricate details, fragile components, or special features that make them challenging to transport. Given their purpose to attract customer attention, any damage or imperfection can reduce their effectiveness. 

When transporting POP displays, keep the following factors and guidelines in mind.

  • Packaging Requirements: POP displays may include fragile materials like glass. Protective packing such as bubble wrap, foam padding, or even custom crates may be needed to secure them properly.
  • Special Handling and Placement During Transport: Special handling guidelines should be in place, and they may even require a dedicated space within the transport vehicle to prevent being crushed or damaged by other items.
  • Pre-Transport Assessment: Before shipping, assess the POP display’s dimensions and materials. This will guide your packing and transport strategy.
  • Custom Crating: For extremely fragile or complex displays, consider using custom-made wooden crates for extra protection.
  • Strategic Loading: Plan the loading process so that POP displays are placed in a way that minimizes movement and potential collision with other items in the truck.
  • Secure Fastening: Use straps or other fasteners to keep the displays securely in place throughout the journey.

By following these tips, you can significantly reduce the risk of damage to your POP displays and ensure that they arrive in the best possible condition. They’ll be more than ready to attract customers and drive sales.

How to Prevent Damage to Retail Fixtures

While retail fixtures are designed to showcase products in the best light possible, they can be vulnerable to damage during the shipping process. The last thing any retailer wants is to receive new fixtures in unusable condition.

Unfortunately, it’s more common than you might think for fixtures to sustain damage during transit. Without the right retail logistics strategies, you’re rolling the dice on the condition in which your fixtures will arrive.

Common damage types that impact retail fixtures include:

  • Scratches and Scuffs: The most minor, yet common, form of damage. This usually occurs due to inadequate padding or shifting during transit.
  • Dents and Dings: Caused by heavier objects colliding with the fixture, or from poor handling during loading and unloading.
  • Broken Parts: Fragile components, especially those made of glass or thin plastic, are highly susceptible to breaking.
  • Water Damage: Whether from leaks in the shipping vehicle or exposure to rain, water can wreak havoc on certain materials.
  • Structural Deformation: This is more severe and often due to significant shifting or falling during transport.

Knowing what types of damages can occur is the first step in prevention. Let’s look into the material considerations and best practices for unloading and setting up your retail fixtures.

Display Transportation: Material Considerations

A pair of refrigerated cases displaying multiple flavors of ice cream.

The type of material a retail fixture or display is made from plays a significant role in how it should be transported. Different materials have varying levels of durability, weight, and sensitivity to environmental factors. Consequently, knowing the makeup of your fixtures is crucial for planning their safe transit.

The following material-specific tips will help you determine how to move retail displays.

  • Metal: Use padding such as corrugated cardboard or foam to secure it and prevent any shifts that could lead to dents and scratches.
  • Wood:To prevent moisture from seeping into the wood, wrap it tightly with plastic. Cushion the display with foam or cardboard separators for additional insurance against damage.
  • Plastic: Bubble wrap works well to prevent scratches or cracks in plastic. Avoid placing heavy items on top of these fixtures.
  • Glass: Always use padded crates, consider custom packaging solutions for intricate glass fixtures.
  • Acrylic: Plastic film wrapping and foam insulation will go a long way toward preventing damage to acrylic.
  • Composite Materials: Treat composite similar to wood, with moisture resistance being a key concern.

Understanding the nuances of different materials can help you tailor your retail display logistics process, and reduce the risk of damage. Whether you’re dealing with a steel rack or a delicate glass showcase, taking material considerations into account will ensure that your retail fixtures arrive in great condition.

Unloading and Setting Up Store Fixtures

Once your store fixtures arrive at their destination, the job isn’t over. The unloading and setup phases are equally important in ensuring that your investment remains intact and ready for use. Even the most durable fixtures can be damaged if handled carelessly during these final stages.

Being careful and attentive during unpacking is crucial. Make sure you handle each item individually and avoid using sharp tools that might scratch or dent the fixtures. 

If possible, work with a last mile carrier that offers set up or room of choice delivery options. 

They are more likely to be familiar with the process and already have the needed tools handy. 

If you are just accepting the delivery and putting things together yourself, follow these simple tips: 

  • Inspect Upon Arrival: Before you start unloading, do a quick check for visible damage.
  • Use the Right Tools: Make sure you have the correct tools for the job, which can differ depending on the fixture material.
  • Teamwork: It’s usually a good idea to have more than one person assist in the setup, especially for larger or heavier fixtures.
  • Don’t Rush: Take your time during both the unloading and the setup processes to minimize the risk of damage.

At this crucial phase of retail fixture transportation, using a specialized service like USA Last Mile Logistics can be invaluable. Our team is trained to handle fixtures of all types and materials, ensuring a smooth transition from the truck to your retail space.

Retail Fixture Logistics and Setup With USA Last Mile Logistics

It’s clear that the material and design of your fixtures significantly influence the success of their transportation. That’s why you should use USA Last Mile Logistics services for your retail fixture delivery and setup needs.

In addition, look to us for assistance with:

  • Retail merchandise delivery
  • White glove services
  • Liftgate service
  • And more

Call our last mile delivery experts at (866) 569-1445 or request a proposal today and let us focus on your fixture transportation needs so you can focus on what matters most: building your business.

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