5 Tips For More Effective In-Store Marketing

Rewarding?  Yes.  Glamorous?  No. As an independent retailer, you’re responsible for sales, accounting, purchasing, personnel, and many other business functions. Unfortunately, these leave little time and few resources for in-store marketing.  With the in-store decision rate at an all-time high of 76%, according to a recent study from POPAI, retailers cannot afford to neglect the visual merchandising function.  A little planning and a modest investment can go a long way in converting shoppers to buyers.  Below are five tips for more effective in-store marketing.  

Know where you’re going.

Take a few moments to define your campaign objectives.  They should be clear and specific.  Is your goal to introduce new products, promote a sale, generate awareness for a new event, etc.?  Your goals will play a role in choosing display materials and composing an effective message.  For example, window signage is an effective method for communicating sales and in-store promotions.  In fact, KISSmetrics reported that 52% of consumers are more likely to enter a store if there is a sale sign in the window.

Cover your bases.

Most retail environments contain five major areas that inform, promote, and sell.  Windows, walls, ceilings, counters, and floors all provide an opportunity to communicate with shoppers.  Large window signage is ideal for driving traffic.  Counter signage plays a support role by displaying specific price points and promotional discounts.  Ceilings and walls may be used for directional signage.  The most successful in-store marketing programs utilize a combination of these materials.  Consider your objectives when choosing areas on which to focus.

Be polished.

Use frames, fixtures, and sign holders to give graphics a professional appearance.  These items are permanent and allow for easy seasonal graphic updates.  Most are available in affordable plastic or metal versions and accommodate a variety of signage materials.  Graphics usually snap or slide into place.  Choose fixtures that are visually appealing, reusable, and flexible.  Most options are available in a variety of colors and styles.  Select a style that complements your retail atmosphere.  Use the appropriate hanging hardware to achieve the most professional look.

Keep it fresh.

Content should always be relevant and up-to-date.  This includes signage, windows, mannequin displays, etc.  There is no “magic number” for content changes.  However, your in-store displays should always reflect the present season and highlight your most current inventory.  In general, the retail year can be divided into five major seasons, with various holidays falling into each:

  • Winter                                  (Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day)
  • Spring                                   (Taxes, Easter, Mother’s Day, Graduation, Father’s Day)
  • Summer                               (4th of July)
  • Fall                                         (Back to School, Halloween, early holiday)
  • December Holidays         (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc.)

Limited budgets may not allow signage updates for each individual holiday.  Consider your industry and prioritize which are most valuable to your business.  Invest in signage updates for these events and display basic seasonal signage for the rest of the period.  Keep content fresh by incorporating new inventory or products.

Note that we’ve dedicated an entire “season” to December.  According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent 20%-40% of a retailer’s annual sales.  A holiday update is well worth the investment and should be included in your visual merchandising plan.

Be the early bird.

Successful in-store marketing events require planning.  Consider your objectives early and make a list of required materials, including signage, fixtures, hanging hardware, etc.  Are you going to mount signage to the ceiling, wall, or window?  If so, what type of hardware will you need?  Do some general research to identify lead times and possible sources.  Place orders well in advance to allow time for testing the application and correcting imperfections.

Although it’s difficult to prioritize as a small business owner, adequate planning can result in better execution and more efficient use of your time and budget dollars.

Contributed by Melissa Molyneaux, the marketing director for, a website that provides printed signage, shopping bags and in-store marketing materials to independent retailers. The site’s mission is to provide the benefits of custom merchandising, without high volume requirements or agency expenses. Boutique Vision is fully owned by InnoMark Communications, a provider of custom visual merchandising solutions for major retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) clients. Molyneaux may be reached at, or 855-889-5362.
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