Sign Language

Product signage ideas to boost 4th quarter sales.
by : 

Maggie Feeney

October 1, 2014
Sign Language

The holiday buying frenzy is nearly upon us. Some shoppers are already checking gifts off their lists, but what about those who have only a vague notion of what their loved ones want? They’re the ones wandering aimlessly around your store with panicked looks on their faces. Even in a small store, it’s easy to become preoccupied helping one customer, leaving the rest adrift in a sea of choices. Give them a shopping lifeline with store signage that helps them discover—and purchase—the great gifts you carry.

Mix and match

Remember Garanimals, the mix-and-match clothing line from the 70s? Garanimals took the guessing out of shopping for kids’ clothes. Busy parents—and their kids—could simply match a giraffe tag on a shirt to a giraffe tag on a pair of pants and, presto, a coordinated outfit! During the holidays, when everything feels rushed and hectic, shoppers appreciate that kind of simplicity and easy navigation through a store. Why not take a page out of the Garanimals playbook and merchandise with an image or color-coded system? Not only will it guide customers to easy-to-pair gift items throughout your store, it turns the discovery of gifts into a fun, foolproof shopping experience.

Which of your products pair well together? If you have a large selection of yoga and meditation tools, prominently tag those products with an image of a beautiful mandala or a person in a peaceful yoga pose. Make it even easier for customers to identify the tags throughout your store by printing them in a vibrant color, such as blue for yoga gear or yellow for journaling supplies or green for Fair Trade products. In this way, you can organize your store for gift-givers without having to rearrange all your displays. It also encourages customers to move throughout your merchandise instead of bee-lining to a particular display, bypassing many other products that could be perfect for someone on their list.

If you use images on your tags, make sure they are ones you either have taken yourself or obtained the rights to use. Many royalty-free stock image sites online such as and sell downloadable images for a few dollars each.

May I suggest

You have probably noticed that the websites of most big (and many small) retailers provide suggestions for related items based on the products you place in your shopping cart. Even if you don’t have an online store, you can still make use of this device “offline.” Choose a few of your top-selling items for prominent display throughout your store and use signage such as “Customers who bought this item also bought …” or “Frequently bought together …” Add a few quote bubbles to your signage with comments from customers or from online reviews. People love rating systems as a quick visual, so you could also include rating stars in your signage.

Have you ever walked down the wine aisle of your grocery store and noticed their “Pairs well with …” signage? Why not do the same for gift pairings? If you carry certain gift staples that pair with many different products in your inventory, consider centrally highlighting those go-to gifts along with several complementary products and use your signage to indicate where those other products are located throughout your store.

Suggesting companion gifts helps your customers save time (which they will thank you for!) and increases the likelihood of add-on purchases.

Think like a librarian

The Dewey Decimal System may give you hives, but if there’s one thing librarians have figured out, it’s that categories help make sense of the world. Convenient gift categories are the thing customers need most during the holiday shopping rush, so think like a librarian! Supply customers with gift-giving lists that coordinate with your signage and displays. Here are a few useful categories:

  • For Him
  • For Her
  • For Kids
  • For Teens
  • For the Whole Family
  • For the In-Laws
  • For Pet Lovers
  • For Gadget Geeks
  • For Nature Lovers
  • Last Minute Gifts
  • Under $5
  • Under $10
  • Under $25
  • Under $50
  • Stocking Stuffers
  • Trending Now
  • Fair Trade and Loving It
  • For Yogis
  • Secret Santa
  • For the Co-Worker
  • For the Teacher
  • For Foodies
  • For the Artist
  • For Book Lovers
  • Hostess Gifts
  • For Neighbors

You may want to include an additional category: Gifts for the Giver. After all, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday shoppers in 2013 planned to spend $129 on self-gifting alone!

Another useful category you may want to consider adding is Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything, and under it, highlight your gift cards. The NRF reported last year that shoppers spent $28 billion on gift cards in 2012, and there are no signs of that trend declining.

Because more and more shoppers are webrooming before they shop, one way to capture their attention is to set up special Pinterest boards that match the product category signage in your store. Use Pinterest to feature some of the products you offer (make sure to pin from your own website to increase traffic there), and as with images used in your store, make sure the images you use on your website are ones you have permission from your vendors to use or ones you have taken yourself. You then can post links to your Pinterest boards on your Facebook page or other social media sites for further exposure.

On the subject of “rooming,” consider adding QR codes to your in-store signs. These link back to your website for more information, such as the story behind the making of the product or a profile of the artist who made it.

Dollar signs

In Why We Buy, retail guru Paco Underhill suggests stores are essentially a “three-dimensional walk-in TV commercial.” The most effective commercials are brief, to the point, and in the right place to attract attention. Keep that in mind while creating your holiday gift signage, and you’ll be well on your way to boosting your 4th quarter sales.

Maggie Feeney is Editor in Chief of Retailing Insight.