There’s a lot to consider when it comes to the signage for your brick-and-mortar store.
New store owners often start off right, investing in their branding, a fancy logo, and one large sign above the front window. And then they stop. But consider this: Your physical store is your brand story. It’s your best (and most expensive) marketing platform. Why waste it when you can maximize on the investment that you have already made?
When I talk about signage, I'm not just referring to your name and logo. Signage can, and should be, all over your store, from the exterior to the interior, explaining your products & services and helping customers to navigate. It contributes to the customer experience and helps you to sell more.
Image via Cedar & Rush
Baby it’s cold outside!
How visible is your exterior shop signage? Is it welcoming and informative? Does it catch the eye of everyone passing by? If your store is on a street rather than in a mall, some people will be driving by, with others walking past. You need to make sure you're catching the attention of both groups. If your logo is large and high above your window, that's great for drivers to see at speed, but perhaps pedestrians aren’t looking up, thus failing to see your brand name above their head. Instead, they may make their decision on whether to enter based on what they see in your window out of the corner of their eye. But what if they knew more in that split second? Something else to entice them, other than just visual window products?
I’ll give you an example. You are a nail salon. You have a gorgeous interior, a cutesy name and well-trained staff. But the passerby doesn’t know that you differentiate yourself from other salons by offering a complimentary shoulder massage with every manicure and pedicure. You're leaving it to chance that they will step inside to find out more about you. But what if, as they walk along, they see a blackboard outside your door: "Free neck & shoulder massage with every treatment! Walk-in appointments accepted!" Chances are now much higher that they will enter, or at the very least remember your brand the next time they need an appointment. A simple but highly effective tool.
If you are a multi-branded store, you most likely have at least a few well known brands that always attract customer attention. Why not highlight those names in your window so potential clients can immediately see that you carry them? By using vinyl window decals, photo frames, or hanging signage behind the glass, you can make them stand out and—again—increase the likelihood that a customer will walk inside.
Image via Vogue
Come on in!
Consider external signage not just for your logo, but for your tagline, services, and/or unique selling points. The first step is to get the customer inside the store. But perhaps your concept is not obvious from your store name: Joe's Bike Shop is self-explanatory, but what about Ellie’s Designs? What designs? Some retailers will claim, "oh people will see the clothes in the window and work it out," but why leave it to chance? Create a descriptive tagline—such as unique formal ladies wear—and have a window decal that says "we go up to size 22." Retail is about temptation. Entice customers inside and half the battle is done.
Retail is about temptation. Entice customers inside and half the battle is done.
For exterior signage: If you are on a street, chances are there will be passing evening traffic. Whether or not you close at 5, it's a great idea to have back-lit signage outside to make your store name to glow at night. You wouldn’t turn your social media accounts off when the store is closed, so don’t turn off your physical visibility either. Consider leaving your window lights on too, so people can still see your window display.
Now that you're here...
Ok, exterior boxes are checked, but don't stop there: you need your logo and store name inside too! Mostly retailers choose to display it behind the cash wrap, but anywhere at or above eye level will work. New customers especially should be reminded of your brand name while browsing around.
Beyond that, there are 3 main types of signage for inside your store:
Pricing & Promotions | Pricing should always be clear and easy to read, and promotions should be kept simple. A good rule of thumb is if it can’t be explained in three short sentences on a poster, then it’s likely too complicated to gain interest from customers. Use clean fonts and large text as it applies to your brand's aesthetic. If your store is a luxury boutique, don’t go cheap on your promotional signage just because it’s temporary. Make sure it is designed in your brand fonts and colors to blend in with the rest of the store.
Informational | Rather than leaving it solely up to your sales associates, add printed product information to signage around the store. For example, you have the perfect black trouser suit for ladies. It has pockets, a tailored waist, an elasticated waistband, hoops for a belt and comes in three lengths of jacket. But just looking at the suit on a hanger, the customer won’t know all that, and if your staff is busy with other customers, they won't be around to communicate such. Display a framed poster on the shelf above it with those five key selling points—that's what will attract her to take the step to try it on.
Image via Racked
Return & Exchange Policy | A printed return & exchange policy is essential. This is a necessary evil but can still be written in a positive tone, rather than too harshly which may discourage some shoppers. It should be clear, positioned in an obvious place on or by the cash wrap, and easy to read. The cash wrap is also a great place to display your social media handles, gift card options, and reward card or loyalty program.
As a passionate retailer who has opened and operated more than 10 of my own boutiques, I hope I have encouraged you, the retailer, to use the many options you have with physical store signage to make that kind of marketing work to your advantage, increasing foot traffic, sales, and profitability.
Jennifer Haddad ran her own retail business for the last decade and is now a retail consultant and author of My Small Store. After opening and operating more than 10 of her own stores, she became passionate about all aspects of retail, and believes physical retail will thrive again.
Jennifer now works with small retail business owners across the US & Canada to help them maximize on their store potential. As a British mother of two, she brings her entrepreneurial spirit, her humor, her love of people and her decade of hands-on retail experience to every client engagement.
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Topics: Retail Marketing