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What is Display Compliance? How to ensure 100% accuracy

Retail display compliance audit illustration banner

We work with a lot of retail marketers. And usually, when we speak to them, they know that their in-store displays aren’t always perfect. They typically estimate that it is around 80-90% accurate, but they can’t measure it. However, at Colateral, we’ve developed a method to measure the exact percentage that campaigns match their intended plan. And, when we implement it for retailers, their display compliance is closer to 40-60%! So, in this post, I’ll be sharing what display compliance is and how to measure it.

Display compliance measures how accurately your visual merchandise display matches the intended design in your planogram. For example, when designing your in-store marketing campaign, you will usually create a planogram that outlines the intended setup. Then, when it’s implemented, you audit the display to identify any issues compared to the planogram. The score in your audit gives you your display compliance percentage.

Unfortunately, poor display compliance is common, and some brands don’t even measure display compliance. So in this article, we explore display compliance in greater detail, including how to measure it and techniques you can use to ensure your marketing displays are 100% compliant.

Why is display compliance important?

Display Compliance is critical to ensuring that your marketing achieves the intended outcome. Your campaign will either aim to increase brand awareness, drive footfall to stores or increase product sales. While many marketers focus on creative design and messaging, it all means nothing if it is not implemented correctly. 

For example, let’s say your campaign objective is to increase sales of a specific product. According to POPAI’s 2014 shopper engagement survey, 82% of shoppers make purchase decisions in-store. So, a targeted in-store marketing campaign will increase product sales.

However, if your display compliance is only 80%, you can only achieve 80% of the potential revenues that you could if it’s 100%. So, in honesty, it’s probably less! Because when a display isn’t correct, it’s not only not fulfilling its intended purpose, but it’s also distracting.

So, when you review the results at the end of your campaign, you will likely measure the sales during the campaign vs non-campaign periods. However, if your campaign was live but not correctly implemented, how can you accurately measure campaign performance? How can you use this information to inform whether your promotion message resonated with shoppers?

During a time when marketers are under pressure to demonstrate ROI, you cannot afford to have diminished results and inaccurate measurements.

Accurate winery merchandise Display

How to measure display compliance?

You measure display compliance by auditing your visual merchandise display. Many retailers we meet estimate that their compliance is around 80-90%, but they don’t measure it. And when they do measure it, they discover it’s closer to 40-60%! Fortunately, measuring display compliance is quite simple.

Firstly, you should issue installation instructions, planograms and signage, as you usually do. However, in addition to those instructions, you should issue a short questionnaire or survey.

This survey should be a checklist for your installers (whether that’s store staff or an external team) to review and check that they have received all of the items issued and set them up correctly. For added peace of mind, ask them to take photos of each component in response to your question.

Then, your installers should return this checklist to you immediately (if it’s digital, the system should notify you immediately. If it’s via paper, ask them to take photos and share them via email).

The results of this checklist will give you all the information in real-time to check the compliance of your displays. For example, suppose you created your survey with 1 question for each display component. In that case, your display compliance will equal how many answers were right divided by how many were incorrect.

Here’s a formula for working it out.

Display Compliance Formula

Formula for Display Compliance

You will measure every execution differently. It’s not a one-size-fits-all assessment and really depends on the marketing materials that form your campaign, so your audits will reflect that.

Common causes of poor visual merchandising compliance.

No one sets out to install a display poorly, but it happens. And there are several common causes that we see.

1. The materials weren’t included in the marketing packs.

The most common problem is that some materials weren’t included in the marketing packs. This could be due to the marketing team not including them, the distribution and fulfilment company you used or even the delivery company.

2. Outsourcing implementation without visibility of control.

3rd parties can be a great way to reduce the burden on your already overworked sales assistants. They should be experts at following even the most detailed instructions and planograms. However, they might not provide clear feedback. And, if you notice something after they’ve left the store, it can be challenging to get them back to fix the problem.

3. Relying on regional managers to check the installation.

This last one isn’t a cause of poor compliance initially, but it’s why campaigns have poor compliance for a more extended period. Your regional managers only have a finite amount of time. So, when you rely on them to check every store’s displays after they go live, it will take time to get to every store and review it. Usually, this is just a couple of days, but given the impact that in-store campaigns can have on sales, every moment counts.

The great news is that once you are measuring compliance, you can list and identify the root cause of the issues to prevent problems from occurring in the future.


Tips to ensure displays are 100% compliant.

Being aware of display compliance and how to measure it is just the beginning. We give our customers the tools to measure compliance and improve it. Here are some of the best ways to help improve display compliance and mitigate risks of issues occurring during execution.

1. A single source of truth throughout campaign planning.

This first tip doesn’t relate to campaigns’ deployment or execution. Instead, it’s all about the planning phase and ensuring everyone is on the same page. When deploying any in-store marketing campaign, you work with visual merchandising, marketing, creative agencies, brands, suppliers and stores. That’s a lot of people to coordinate.

One of the best things you can do is use in-store marketing software to manage your whole campaign, from planning to execution. This will ensure all parties are aware of each step in the campaign, and you can ask everyone for their feedback and get their digital signature as approval for each step. If everyone can review and sign off each step efficiently, it ensures that no steps are missed and help prevent compliance issues later on.

2. Create store profiles for every store.

One challenge we see is that marketers send the same materials to every store. When you do this, installers must interpret which signs they should place in which locations in stores. However, if you ensure that every store with 8 windows receives 8 posters and every store with 3 windows only receives 3 window posters, there can be no confusion.

Using a digital store profile management system, you can maintain visibility of the fixtures and fittings available in each store. In addition, you can automate artwork allocations so that only the right materials go to each store for every campaign.

3. Issue clear guidelines and instructions.

Most retail marketers will do this already, but it’s essential. Ensuring that your marketing packs are 100% accurate and that the guidelines and instructions are included will make the biggest impact. One tip, particularly for large campaigns, is to plan in time to receive all the instructions and details yourself before issuing them in-store. Then, by testing the instructions yourself, you can check you can follow them before asking others to do the same.

Visual Marketing Instructions for workforce communications

Colateral lets you issue visual instructions for installation teams

4. Create a feedback loop between installation and marketing.

You must ensure a clear feedback loop is in place regardless of who you use to install your materials. This starts with creating your post-installation surveys and will ensure your installation team can complete the survey and return the results to you in real-time. With this in place, even if displays aren’t compliant, you will find out right away and be able to resolve it.

5. Don’t rely on regional managers for checks.

Using regional managers for checks may seem logical, easy and convenient, but it is a big issue for your campaigns. Having your installation teams audit the setup will be better in almost every circumstance. If this is your in-store team, then great. If it’s a specialist installation team, also great. However, by relying on your regional managers to check, you’re adding unnecessary delays to the process. For example, if it takes an extra day to identify the issue, you have to arrange the re-delivery of materials which may take another few days.

6. Maintain control and visibility of campaigns

Implementing these changes can be difficult when managing hundreds of stores across different regions. For example, you might run new campaigns daily with regional variations. It’s a lot to track. For this reason, you must have visibility of every stage of your campaigns. You need to see at a glance which campaigns are coming up, which are live, and if you have any issues at any stage. This allows you to manage by exception and intervene only on the campaigns that need your input rather than trying to review every campaign.

Retail Marketing Display Compliance

Ensure all in-store marketing materials are accurate

Need to help to improve display compliance?

At Colateral, we help ensure display compliance in over 10,000 stores across the UK, Europe and North America. Recently, we helped Paddy Power increase display compliance from 42% to 100% across over 600 stores in just 3 months. If you would like to learn more about managing display compliance or how you can improve, please reach out to a member of our team.

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