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The Signage Nightmare Before Black Friday

The familiar metallic clank of security shutters being drawn echoes across the mall. Another hour till the security guards opened the main entrance, and hoards of shoppers would course through aisles, picking apart end caps, and dismantling displays. There are any number of things that could have gone wrong while preparing for Black Friday that retailers can’t control, but that doesn’t have to be the case with in-store signage. Let’s explore common issues from both the store’s and signage team’s perspectives; what steps can be taken to mitigate them.

The last thing any store manager needs to worry about is when a Window Display or Signage Kit is going to get to their store. Visual marketing & merchandising teams can eliminate this worry by making sure tracking information from services like FedEx and UPS are integrated into an online portal accessible by the stores. Most of the retailers that we work with have limited the connectivity their stores have, so displaying the status of kits upfront saves your store personnel quite a bit of time, and your visual marketing team a few hundred phone calls (we might be exaggerating here, but only by a hundred phone calls or so…).


Granted that your store receives their signage kit on time, that doesn’t mean your work is done. Without a signage management or visual marketing automation (VMA) system, there are high chances the store received incorrect signage elements or were shipped extra items they did not need to receive, and are now confused with the setup. Also, without a store portal for the signage, the signage team is typically preparing setup PDF guides by either printing/distributing with the kits packed, or emailing them to the stores. That being said, the most stressful activity of all is when the stores call-in to report missing or damaged elements. These need to be processed quickly, and express shipped by air, so the store is ready for Black Friday.


Now, if you are a retailer who isn’t fortunate enough to have a VMA system that calculates the exact quality of signage required, or your distribution center simply can’t count when they pack the kits, we’ve got some ideas to save you from an avalanche of email and phone calls. First, agree upon a process that your stores will follow to order missing signage, and build in contingency plans to handle emergencies for flagship stores. The second, is to find a way to show the store the kit list they were supposed to receive, and allow them to order off this list. If you’ve got a store profile database, tying it to the kit list so stores don’t order more than they need is a great side benefit. But to eliminate the uncertainty and last moment chaos, get a signage or visual marketing automation system.

We’ve explored what could go wrong from the store’s perspective, but let’s take a step back, and look at issues visual marketing teams face during this time. Just as it’s the store manager needs visibility to when a kit is about to get delivered, the visual marketing team also requires this same information from all their stores. Rather than them pull this info for each store your visual marketing automation system should provide a summary report that indicates which stores haven’t received their kits yet.


Getting the right signage kits to the store is only part of the battle, knowing that they’ve put up all the components of the kit closes the loop on your in-store campaign. There are a few ways to accomplish this; one is to have the stores email back a copy of their pack list with a check mark beside the items they’ve put up, and the second would be to have them enter this directly into their store portal. Key benefit to the second method is the reporting the team can run after each in-store campaign to determine each store’s level of compliance.

These issues that we’ve identified certainly aren’t all the things that could go wrong, but in the years we’ve spent working with retailers these are some of the most common ones we’ve identified. If you’ve encountered similar issues, or have a new one you’d like our opinion on, feel free to let us know in the comments. However complex your Black Friday in-store signage campaigns maybe, we at CrossCap hope they execute seamlessly for you. To get away from all the chaos before celebrating Thanksgiving and having a smooth rollout of your Black Friday campaign, we recommend you transition from all those notorious spreadsheets that include sign-lists, store lists and distro lists and move to a signage or visual marketing automation system. Happy Thanksgiving !!!

CrossCap provides large, middle & small retail clients with a Visual Marketing Automation (VMA) suite that has saved and transformed these enterprises’ store planning and execution of signage. Some of their customers include Kroger, Walmart, REI, Kohl’s, The Children’s Place, American Eagle Outfitters and Ann Inc.

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