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Crime in retail: How poor signage impacts on shopper experience

POSTED: 28 January 2019

When in-store signage is done well it is an amazing tool that can increase your sales by up to 25%. But get it wrong with poor signage and you won’t achieve this benefit, and in fact you could actually hurt your sales and damage your reputation in the process.

But how do you know what is right or wrong? In this article we turn to the old fairy tale, Goldilocks and the three bears, for a bit of help.

Remember how she is walking through the forest and stumbles upon the bears’ house? Peering in she sees three bowls of porridge. Well that’s not how it really happened. Goldilocks never wandered around the forest; too dark and scary. She is more of a shopping gal. Where we actually find Goldilocks is in the mall. She just loves to shop. Let’s follow her there and see what she finds.

“This porridge is too hot” - “This store has too much signage”

Goldilocks sees a store with a beautiful window display full of merchandise she just has GOT to have. As her excitement builds, she steps in to our first store.

Less is more - power of three - an offer, normal price and something new at a better margin

Her eyes are filled, not with the lovely products she was so excited to see, but with sign after sign, all competing with each other. There are so many messages coming at her she can’t think straight. She feels attacked, she feels frustrated. With so many signs and with so many different messages, Goldilocks just doesn’t know where to start.

It feels like 20 different people are trying to talk to her at the same time and she can’t hear one for the other. Goldilocks feels annoyed and anger starts to fire from the depths of her belly.

“Argh!!!!”, Goldilocks cries, “This store has too much signage!” And with that she runs screaming from the store.

“This porridge is too cold” - “This store has a lack of signage”

Goldilocks finds the food court, grabs herself a coffee and muffin, and takes a few minutes to calm down. But, never one to be deterred, she soon picks up her purse and courageously goes back out in to the mall to find her next store.

She very quickly comes upon an awesome looking store. The window display almost calls to her, beckoning her in to browse. And what’s a gal to do?!

Goldilocks enters through the doors and sees lots of wonderful merchandise. Rails of clothes, just waiting to be tried on. Oh, but where to start? There are so many lovely things.

The power of the Reflex sign holder used to generate awareness and sales

She needs an outfit to wear to the office party. She decides to start at pants and see what she can find. But there are rails and rails of pants. Skinny fit, wide leg, bootcut, high rise….she just can’t find what she needs. There are hardly any signs to tell her where anything is and it starts to feel like shopping in a rummage sale. The frustration builds, gradually turning in to a burning anger.

“Argh!!!!”, Goldilocks cries, “This store has a lack of signage!” And with that she runs screaming from the store.

 “This porridge is too messy” - “This store’s poor signage is a mess”

Perhaps you don’t remember this one? This one should have been just right, right? Ah, poor Goldilocks. It was not to be. But let’s go back a step.

We left Goldilocks screaming, running from the second store, she is in no fit state to carry on her shopping. So back to the food court she goes. This time a soda and a burrito, along with a few deep breaths. Feeling calm once again, she picks up her purse and heads back to the mall.

Walking along the rows of stores, Goldilocks comes upon one with a window display that grabs her attention. The clothes look great, she can envisage herself wearing an outfit just like on the mannequin. She just HAS to go to this store. And this is just what she does.

Full of excitement and anticipation, Goldilocks enters through the doors in to the store. She looks around and what she sees fills her with horror. There are broken signs on the floor, those that are still on their rail arm are wonky or hanging off, almost clinging on for dear life.

Goldilocks looks at the clothes, those amazing clothes that filled her dreams in the window display, but in here, on the rails amongst all these broken signs, she starts to question the quality of the clothes themselves. This store just doesn’t look like the sort of store that would sell good quality clothes, however nice they might have looked in the window. Goldilocks feels disappointment and again, the anger rises.

“Argh!!!!”, Goldilocks cries, “This store’s signage is a mess!” And with that she runs screaming from the store.

So, where does this leave our Goldilocks? Yep. Back at the food court. Wallowing in a double choc chip fudge-mocha brownie chunk rocky road cookie dough ice cream. With marshmallows. And sprinkles.

Poor Goldilocks feels deflated and defeated. All she wanted was a new outfit for the office party. That shouldn’t be so hard, should it? Why couldn’t those stores have got it right? Self-pity washes over Goldilocks and she weeps in to her dessert.

But we can’t leave her like this, can we? Fairy tales are much better with a happy ending. Come on, Goldilocks, dry your eyes and wipe your nose. We have one more store to try.

Clutching her purse and slightly shaking, Goldilocks bravely heads on back to the mall.

“This porridge is just right” - “This store is just right”

Looking in to the shop fronts, Goldilocks happens upon a store. A store she has never seen before. Maybe it’s new, she thinks to herself. She looks up at the name, ‘The Reflex fashion store’, a slightly odd name perhaps, but the window display is super amazing, and, well, she just HAS to give it a try.

So, taking a deep breath Goldilocks walks through the doors and enters the store.

Face-outs sign holder can provide clarity and help the shopper find products

Inside is rail upon rail of gorgeous clothing. But where to start? She looks to her right and sees a sign for the pants. All labelled in to their different styles. And they have been co-sited with shirts, and oh my, there is a sign showing how one of the shirts would look with one of the pants. Goldilocks, just has to have both. What a perfect outfit! She would never have considered that purple color for the shirt but the picture displayed on the sign just makes it look great. She grabs her size in the pants and the shirt, and takes it to the checkout.

And so, our time has come to leave Goldilocks. We watch her leave the store, swinging her bag of lovely new things and with a smile on her face, feeling very much like she will live happily ever after.

Oh, I love a happy ending, don’t you? And now it’s time to reflect. What does this story teach us?

The moral of the story - Key take away

Signs within stores act as a silent sales team and are an excellent sales tool for retailers. However, you need to get the level of signage right. Too many signs are confusing, they lose their effectiveness. Too few signs mean shoppers are left lost and retailers miss out on an opportunity to steer the sale. Avoid poor signage.

To get the level right, think about how you would want a sales assistant to help a customer; pointing out key products, directing shoppers around the store and suggesting complimentary products - your signs should act in the same way.

Make it easy to choose complimentary products

Consider the quality of your signs. As we saw in our story, poor signage, broken, misplaced, and wonky signs are off putting to shoppers and actually can be detrimental to the reputation of your store. The reason Reflex is the world’s best-selling end-of-arm product is due to its quality and clever design that means when it is knocked it won’t break, and it won’t accidentally fall off the rail arm either. The unique flexibility of Reflex means signs will merely flex when knocked by shoppers, ensuring in-store graphics stay where you want them. Using a good quality sign holder ensures your signs stay intact, as does your reputation. And with Reflex proven to increase sales by 25%, you have your happily ever after right there.

Futher Reading

Read more about how face-out sign holders improve the retail experience

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