Signs are your silent salespeople, and they say a lot about your business and brand. Make a personable impression, and your customers will appreciate any information you provide. Consistency is key because you want the customer to focus on the sign’s message and not the sign presentation itself. The goal is uniformity. To create a great merchandise sign program, just follow a few guidelines.

Create a template in Word, or another program, that you’ll use for all your signs. Your logo should be on the template and should be about the size of a quarter. This personalization is what makes your store unique. For the font, choose something very readable — nothing fancy or childlike. I recommend Garamond or Arial. Use contrasting colors. I suggest black or red on a white background. And print them on heavy paper.

But these need to be businesses you believe in, not just anyone who wants to put up a flyer.”

Signs must be in sign holders. Buy a variety of clear acrylic sign holders at Staples or any retail supply company. Generally you’ll want 4-by-6-inch sign holders for merchandise. There are larger sizes available, and those would be useful for window displays, promotions or information at the register about return policies, etc. There are also small holders that clip onto shelves. The signs themselves must be free of tears and misspellings, and the acrylic holders shouldn’t have cracks or scrapes.

Price is always important to the customer. In an area with many products, list multiple item prices, as Macy’s does with bedding. Signs are also a good place to voice your opinions. You’re the expert, after all. “One of our favorites” or “We Recommend” are phrases that let your customer know an item is special.

No doubt you receive vendor point-of-purchase displays, or POPs. Sometimes they’re cardboard, sometimes they’re wire, and both are shipped with signage to attach in some way. Don’t use them. Your store is unique, and you don’t want to have the same POP everyone else has. Use the POP as a fixture, and not as an ad for a vendor’s brand. If there’s valuable information on the vendor sign, put that information on your own sign.

A word about transparent tape: Don’t use it. Ever. Tape looks sloppy and creates a bad impression. 

Sometimes a store will use its storefront as a place to hang flyers, often taped to the glass. Bad idea: This is your customers’ first impression of the store and they need an unobstructed view into it. Instead, create a community bulletin board inside. It’s a good place for flyers, lost dog alerts and other businesses you’d like to promote. But these need to be businesses you believe in, not just anyone who wants to put up a flyer. 

You can’t provide too much information to your customers, and your opinion really matters to them. For instance, there are so many kinds of dog food out there, and if you have a puppy, you have no idea what puppy food is best. Let them know through your signs.

Tom Crossman has designed entertainment centers and retail stores for FAO Schwarz, Dollywood, Toys ‘R’ Us. He’s also worked as a buyer at Macy’s, and a store manger at Disney Store, and will be sharing his insights on retail in seminars at Global Pet Expo. His work can be seen at tomcrossman.com, and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.

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