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Getting the Most from Your Retail Signage

Most retailers are unaware of the types of signs available to them, which prevents them from getting the most out of their signage. In our book Signs Sell, we outline our I.S.E.E. method that describes each sign type available and suggests retailers use a combination of these signs to have maximum impact on the buyer’s decision-making process.

The I.S.E.E. acronym identifies four sign types:

I: Informative Signs

Informative signs (also known as wayfinding or directional signs) direct customers throughout the store. For example, informative sings communicate how to get to a department, where to locate the bathroom, and where to find the emergency exit.

IKEA does an exceptional job at leveraging informative signs in their stores. The next time you shop there, notice how well you navigate through their large departments without an associate’s help.

S: Selling Signs

Selling signs, arguably the most popular type of sign, exist in three forms:
  • Price proposition, like “Buy one get the second 50% off” or “Buy two get the third free,” or a price-pointed rack, like “Everything on rack $9.99!”

A price-pointed rack doesn’t mean you slash down the products’ price, it just means everything on that rack is one price. Price-pointed racks are highly effective because they convey perceived savings, and they’re easy for customers to understand.
  • Selling words are words like new, different, interesting, must have, can’t keep in stock, or anything that would enhance that sale in the form of words.

  • Combination of price proposition and selling words--use short phrases customers quickly grasp.

E: Educational Sign

If you want to get the most out of our signage, educate the customer about products you sell. Teach customers how the product should be used or how the product works.

For example, a garden center displayed a sign that listed the ten best clean air plants and described how each plant worked so well. This sign sat in the middle of a display containing the ten plants listed on the sign. The sales of these ten plants skyrocketed because the sign educated customers how they benefit from the plants beyond an aesthetic value.

Remember to align your signage and displays with the most effective visual merchandising strategies.

E: Entertaining Sign
So many retailers simply forget the entertaining sign. It’s a sign that’s the fun and puts a smile on your face--that’s their only purpose. These signs are important because they entertain, and shopping is a form of entertainment.

For example, a co-op used the tagline “Milk so fresh the cow doesn’t even know the milk is missing.” A paint store used the tagline “Husbands selecting paint must have note from wife.”

Be Smart When Crafting Sign Messages

Shoppers want to know not only how you can save them money but how your products can save their time, save them stress, and even save the planet by reducing the human footprint. Use your signage to showcase how your products accomplish these goals.

Leverage Graphics to Create Associations

Your signs don’t need to always contain words. Use images to communicate with customers, particularly if you want to make associations between your products and what customers are already familiar with or attracted to.

For example, when black pearls were discovered in Tahiti, they were advertised using only images of expensive furs, clothing, and vehicles photographed with the pearls. Customers began to associate black pearls with a luxurious lifestyle, allowing the pearls to be sold at a high price.

Want to assess how well your signage impacts your customers’ experiences and your sales? Check out our sign audit.

For an in-depth review of signage and its ability to increase your sales quicker than any other retailing tool, read the new book Signs Sell.

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