We might be well into the Digital Age, but signage is still an integral part of the customer experience when they enter a retail store. Signage in your retail space are your silent salespeople who catch passers-by’s eye, make them feel safe and connected to the space, guide them around the store and, ideally, persuade them to spend their money. They also provide crucial information: what you sell, when you’re open, how to contact you and any seasonal promotions you have on.
While the absence of signage creates a confusing environment for busy shoppers, bad signs can be actively alienating, deterring potential customers from even stepping foot into a store. So how can you balance too much versus too little? Informative versus bland? Personalised verses incomprehensible?
Luckily, we’ve got a few tips on hand!
There are a variety of signage categories used in retail spaces, each with a distinct purpose. Understanding what your signage is accomplishing is critical to creating a successful design and achieving that balance between drawing in, directing and persuading your customers. Types of retail signage include:
This sign grabs attention, delivers concise information on the services or products you provide and entices customers into your store. Place your outdoor signage in high traffic areas near your shop, and tailor your design to your target audience: strolling tourists, fast-paced workers, vehicle traffic – or all of them. Make sure it’s legible at all times of the day, so consider light, glare, obstacles, font and colours.
These are the signs that tell customers what products or services they can find in each aisle, counter, room or floor. They are best placed just above eye-level.
Making your store easy and convenient to navigate means customers will want to come back. Wayfinding signs direct shoppers to the toilets, the register, the changing rooms, the escalators, the promotions of the week, and whatever else you want to draw their attention to.
These are the signs that help customers buy into a particular product, into your brand and into the lifestyle or ethos you represent. Make sure not to over-do the persuasion: no one likes to feel like they’re being sold something! Keep it tasteful, memorable and make it stand out.
Customised signs for your retail space are the best way to make shoppers feel at home in your store. They are specific to your product and your target market, enabling you to tailor your marketing and create a sense of community. They also, and importantly, provide specific information about locations, instructions and product details.
This is perhaps one of the key rules of design! Shoppers must understand your signs in 5 seconds or less. Choose bold and simple fonts that are easily legible against the background (no cursives or serifs!), write in headline text that focuses on the vital information and a punch-line, and don’t overwhelm your customers with signage. The only thing worse than too little information is too much!
Successful signage in your retail space incites customers to take action on something, whether that’s checking out a new product, sniffing the scented candles, feeling the texture of a rug or buying the merchandise. This makes the customer experience feel more interactive, engaged and personal. Keep the goal simple: buyers like to be firmly guided, but not ordered around or asked to jump through too many hoops.
Really get into the shoes of your market and imagine why they might be buying a particular product: to make their home feel luxe, rustic or contemporary? To look great for a date? To surprise or please a loved one? Tell them so! Using terms like ‘you’ or ‘yours’ also helps to connect with buyers and make the experience feel personalised.
Try to limit negative signs, the ones that tell customers everything they shouldn’t do, can’t do and won’t do. This lowers the whole tone and atmosphere of your store and doesn’t make shoppers feel welcome or comfortable. Keep the focus on what they can do!
Signage for your retail space is an extension of your brand! So while keeping things simple and informative, make sure to inject some unique and personalised branding that makes your store a truly immersive environment.
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