Top 8 Mistakes Retailers Make When Ordering Signage

Signage in Retail
Matthew Hudson

Because of its impact on customers’ experiences and your sales, signage plays a weighty role in your store. Signs can do wonders to your business, but they can also fall flat if you’re not careful. In my book, Signs Sell, I list four categories of signs that every store must have to be successful. 

To make the most of your signage and create as much positive impact as possible, avoid these common mistakes that can easily decrease your sign’s effectiveness.

1. You think you know everything about creating signage.

If you knew everything about making signs, you’d probably be working at a sign store! The truth is, most retailers don’t know everything about signage, and that’s ok--you’re a retail expert, not a sign maker.

When you’re creating and ordering signs, be sure to collaborate with a reliable, highly experienced sign company that can consult you during the design process. They know how to create the most effective signage based on your intended objectives.

2. Your sign’s font is too small.

Often signs are created by younger people whose eyesight is sharp. But not all of your customers have excellent vision. To prevent creating unreadable signs, raise your font size two points from what you think is appropriate.

Also, is the font type in harmony with your store brand? They should complement each other. Is the sign standing straight up at a 90 degree angle?

If so, it’s hard to read--slant your signs at a 45 degree angle to improve readability.

3. You’re reusing signs that were not made to be reused.

Your signage should always look new and fresh. Are the signs you reuse in excellent condition?

Beware of including dates on your signs, which can be very dangerous.

Sometimes you might extend a sale or promotion, or it might not start exactly when you thought. Don’t embarrass yourself by including dates that could potentially be inaccurate.

4. You fail to include your website on your signs.

Your website should be listed on all your signs. You could also use a QR code on signs that are low enough for customers to scan with their smartphone. Whether you include the website or a QR code, you need to communicate where customers can find you online.

5. You forget to order signage for people waiting in line.

Yes, signs in these areas generate additional sales! But just as importantly, these signs distract customers while they wait. No one likes to wait in line. Consider signs that entertain your customer while they wait. If you make the customer smile, they will have more patience for the wait. 

Tip: These signs are an excellent place to use QR codes.

6. You give the sign company an inadequate timeframe for making the sign.

For some reason, we think signs can be created instantly. The time it takes to create a sign is usually much longer than we think. Factor additional time into your signage strategy so you give the sign company an adequate timeframe in which you need your signs completed.

7. You inaccurately estimate the price of your signage.

Do your research. Get quotes from sign companies. Signage is an advertising strategy you will continuously use, so you need to know the realistic costs and include them in your budget. Your signage should never be an afterthought.

Consider digital signage and how economical (and powerfully effective) it could be in your store. I have seen many installations of digital signage that have made a real difference in sales. The best part of digital is that there are companies and platforms available now that make it affordable to the smaller retailer. 

8. You fail to see your signage as headlines.

View your signs as headlines, like the way a headline works in a newspaper. The headlines make it easy for the customer to understand what you want them to see and do.

When you order your signs, consider creating those headlines that help customers respond to your signs the way you intended. A successful sign headline is one that makes the customer stop and consider before moving on. 

Want to know how to best utilize signs in your store? Check out the book Signs Sell, a comprehensive guide to understanding, creating, and leveraging signage to improve your retail business.