Why Do Your In-Store Labels Matter?

5 July 2023

When you visit a retail store, you’re hit by a sphere of information, bright lights and music amongst a sea of coloured products that create quite the attack on the senses. Customers tend to not take in everything that surrounds them, instead, they’re looking for something in particular and their focus is drawn to what they can see at eye level.

They might not notice your high-level promotional signage or the raft of lifestyle imagery, but your pricing labels are the one thing you can pretty much guarantee a customer will look at. Displaying your product pricing is not only a legal requirement, but it also plays a vital role in the customer journey and can hugely impact your sales performance.

In this blog, we explore how your store labelling could be a culprit for lost sales, and the labelling issues we regularly see on the high street as well as share our expert tips on how to overcome them.

The impact of bad in-store labelling

When we talk about ‘bad labelling’, there are two ways to consider it; one is the poor implementation of in-store labelling, and the other is quite literally terrible-looking labels. Both matter and can have a huge impact on your store’s performance leading to lost revenue. Here are a few ways that in-store labelling could be holding back your business growth:

It creates pricing confusion

In its simplest form: a customer not seeing a clearly priced product will put them off buying and this is before any other factors affect the sale. A good price will sell a product, and this is even more important for value retailers where the price is of greater sensitivity. You need your price to stand out, you need it to be clear and if the item is not priced, you’re putting a barrier in the way of the customers’ purchase.

It affects customer perceptions

Consider what it might mean to the customer when pricing isn’t visible. It can lead to the perception that the product must be expensive, or, at the other end of the spectrum, the customer may think you don’t care about that item and that devalues your products. Unknowingly, you influence the customers’ perception and add further barriers to a sale.

It causes difficulties for colleagues

Missing labels cause operational issues for store colleagues too. Instead of being enabled to deliver outstanding customer service by selling the features and benefits of the product, your store colleague is running to the till to check the price. Missing labels also prevent goods from being easily put through the till when the barcode sits on your label, and this is frustrating for your store team.

The time it then takes to serve the customer is prolonged which doesn’t create the best customer experience either and additional colleagues are likely roped in to find the item price or barcode. This means it takes longer, requires more resources and causes inefficiencies in the running of your store.

It reflects poorly on your brand

The execution of your labelling is strongly linked to the entire perception of your brand and yet the look and feel of labels is often overlooked in the design of the store. We have seen this recently in a high-end clothing retailer where their store is in the most expensive UK shopping space, the shop fit is exceptional and it is clear a lot of investment has been made, but then the labels have been handwritten and they’re difficult to read.

7 common labelling problems & how to overcome them

1. Wrong choice of material

This comes down to not selecting the right material for your labelling application at the start and yet the cost to replace labels throughout your supply chain is significant. You need labels sticky enough to stay put, but not permanent. You also want your customers to be able to easily remove labels without them leaving a tacky residue behind as it may be a gift.

The best adhesive and material differ from product to product as well as by application, and it’s important to consult with a label specialist (such as us) to support your selection. We work with shoe retailers who need to stick labels to rubberised soles and also canvas shoes, and DIY retailers who need labels suitable for outdoor use that can withstand exposure to extreme sunlight and weather conditions – each of these use cases require different label materials.

2. Illegible & unattractive labels

When you handwrite labels, a lot of time is wasted versus a printed solution. It’s also only natural that the more labels you write, the harder they become to read; tired hands start to show which means that numbers begin to look the same and writing loses its neatness. Store colleagues are rushed and often disrupted, leading to mistakes and, ultimately, the overall effect leaves a lot to be desired.

A high sheen, high-end look and finish with the addition of your brand will add value to the label. Consider your brand and how your labels can play a part in bringing it to life. From the materials you choose to the size, shape, font and use of colour, align your brand and visual merchandising teams to create a label design that matches your identity.

We’ve discussed how price is one thing guaranteed to be looked at, so what other information can you get on your pricing label? Making the most of your label real estate to share promotional messages and discounts is an opportunity, but could you use your labels as an opportunity to cross-sell too? A “don’t forget your sun cream” reminder to those buying a paddling pool, perhaps?

3. Poor quality print

Aged hardware can affect the quality of your in-store labelling. As your printer starts to fail you might see white lines appearing through your text that creates separation, or the colour seems faded and the contrast not as rich as it once was. Poor print quality makes barcode labels difficult to read, not only by your customers but at the till too. This is a tell-tale sign that it is time to refresh your printers.

Over time, printed labels will begin to fade on slow-moving lines or where pricing and product details remain static for long periods. This makes the product look less desirable – after all, in the eyes of the customers, it must have been sitting on the shelf for a long time and no one is interested in buying it. Having an easy-to-use labelling solution that allows you to replace labels is therefore key.

4. Inappropriately sized labels

Striking the right balance in the size of your labels can be a challenge, but it’s one we can help you get right. Customers (and store colleagues) will find it hard to see a tiny circular label on a huge product and this means you’re not effectively communicating price or product information. When a customer walks up to a product, if the label isn’t instantly noticeable and they need to lift the product off the shelf to try and locate it, you’re adding unnecessary barriers to sales.

5. Labels lose their stick

The shelf-life of labels and stickers particularly becomes an issue when stores stockpile labels. The adhesive element changes over time as the glues dry out and they are no longer fit for purpose. As your labels lose their stick and fall off, you’ll find more prices are missing on your products and your store team will need to replace pricing more often. The exact shelf-life of your labels will depend on the storage conditions, but typically you can expect consistent performance for around 18 months after manufacture.

As a supplier of quality labels, we can help you overcome this by predicting usage, supporting call-off orders and holding stock for your business available to support your labelling needs as and when you need it. This approach also minimises cash being tied up in label stock and ensures consistent label performance by preventing stockpiling.

6. Pre-pricing issues

If you make your products, you can price them at the source of manufacture. Pre-pricing might seem like the obvious and most cost-effective way to structure and consolidate price labelling, but when you sell into multiple markets, the benefit of localised price labelling in the warehouse or in-store is something to weigh up. It’s not just pricing localisation applies to,  standard product sizes differ between regions and a local labelling solution enables you to better cater for your customers.

We’ve seen examples of at-source labelling with up to nine different prices to cover different territories on one label making it challenging for a customer to quickly locate their local price. Simple changes to use familiar symbology such as the ‘£’ sign and not printing GBP, which is less familiar to your customers, can make all the difference. We’re advocates of taking a local approach to labelling; while this could add direct cost, it will also have a direct impact on selling your goods.

7. Troublesome product data

Many retailers’ systems are geared towards merchandising, replenishment and warehouse management, but what does that mean for your labels? Often it translates to terrible descriptions on product labels that don’t consider how to best make use of the limited characters on a label. Sometimes we even see internal processes creep through to public-facing labels too, creating confusion for customers. This could take the form of a ‘* ‘or ‘#’ at the beginning of the product identifier; to the retailer, this might indicate that it is a best seller but it’s not relevant or helpful to the customer.

Taking the available data, we work with retailers to make sure it supports their in-store and labelling operations the best way possible, advising on what is possible with the information product, price and sales information that they hold in their business.

How we can help improve your in-store labelling

We know a thing or two about creating impactful labels that work hard for retail businesses and support the customer journey. It all starts with clearly defining the role of your labels, working with you to understand the need and what you’re trying to achieve to accurately define what you want your labels to do for your business.

We’re passionate about labelling and have helped numerous retailers across the UK and beyond including Clarks, Yours Clothing and The Entertainer to improve their labelling processes with the introduction of our mobile labelling solution, Label IQ. Get in touch to learn more about how we can do the same for your retail business.



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