Tips for Managing Retail Graphic Installations


Retail graphic installations can cover a wide variety of printing and application processes and methods. Here are some tips to avoid challenges when installing adhesive back vinyl graphics.

Key Retail Job Considerations

A big challenge when working in the retail environment is typically the store owner will want the graphics installed when the store is closed, which means working at odd hours — usually late into the evening. Unless you have the staff to cover shift work, this may mean losing productivity during your business hours, as the installer who has just worked all night installing graphics will not be available to work that following business day. It’s important to take that into consideration and factor in that downtime when you are estimating the job.

The other challenge when working after hours is connecting with someone if questions arise. Larger brand companies will usually require someone to be available by phone to answer questions about any installation instructions when they are working with installers for a rollout of a new promotion or product requiring significant changes in their stores' graphics.

Working evening hours can also mean automatic lights that either shut off or dim after the retail establishment has been closed for a few hours. Make sure you have discussed this with the store owner or manager before they leave for the evening. Either have a plan to make sure the lights don’t go off or dim, or if you can’t change them, have a plan for your own lighting that will enable you to move throughout the store as you are installing graphics.

Another important consideration is ensuring the customer has contacted the alarm or security company and provided them with your company name and the names of any installers. The last thing you need is for an alarm to be triggered and your installers are pulled off the job because this wasn’t discussed prior to beginning the work.

Installation Challenges

When doing a major changeout of graphics, you will want to review the comps or proofs to see where there might be issues that would concern you with the installation. This could include graphics that wrap around the corner of a wall or bridge across an inside corner. The likelihood of the walls being plumb or square is low, so reviewing the proofs and installation instructions before you're on-site will be critical. For large installation jobs — complete changeover of graphics or new construction — using a cast vinyl will help tremendously. When dealing with walls that are not square, cast vinyl is an ideal solution as long as it is stretched carefully.

Calendared vinyl has its place in retail graphics, particularly when the installation is just a flat wall, and the need to go around or inside a corner isn’t necessary. The other thing about many calendared vinyl is the plethora of adhesive options, from removable to permanent, that can be deployed depending on the expected use of the graphic. For instance, barricade walls, which are put up to hide the construction happening in an area inside a mall, airport, etc. will typically only be up for a short time and are usually a flat wall application. A calendared vinyl with a permanent adhesive (to keep prying hands from peeling back the graphic) will work well.

Another challenge when installing is any fixtures/product/shelves that are in the way that can’t be easily moved. Whenever possible, getting involved early in the process will help you to be more of a consultant and advisor as well as the installer. Also ensure that you have a set of basic tools (wrenches, screw drivers, etc.) as needed if you end up needing to remove something (and don’t forget to put it back when done — pictures of anything you remove and its location are especially helpful here!).

Now, with these tips and your tools in hand, it's time to go out and install some graphics!

Ray Weiss
Ray Weiss, VP, eLearning & Certifications, PRINTING United Alliance, assists association members with information on wide-format digital printing as well as equipment, materials, and vendor referrals. He oversees the association's training and certification workshops, and is responsible for both the PDAA training and certification program as well as the new iLEARNING+ platform. Weiss has a background in color management and is a G7 expert. He regularly contributes to the association's Journal and won the 2016 Swormstedt Award for Best in Class writing in the Digital Printing category. Weiss was inducted into the Academy of Screen and Digital Printing Technologies in 2020. Outside of work, Ray is a bicycling enthusiast and enjoys international cuisine, travel, and spending time with his three grandkids.