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Guest Opinion: Signs, signs, everywhere signs ...

Published August 12, 2016
By Holly Wiese
Holly Wiese has more than 20 years' experience in the field of visual merchandising and retail design. She is the owner of 3 Dots Design, a strategic retail design and visual merchandising company that uses just the right blend of vision, creativity and business savvy to create exciting and enticing retail environments.

We all know the song, right? But what does that have to do with your business?

Quite a bit, actually. For a first-time customer walking into your store, a clear signage package throughout the space can be the difference between that customer feeling comfortable enough to navigate the busy floor over to helmets for a purchase OR feeling overwhelmed, turning around and walking back out the door.

Store owners often say to me, "Doesn't everybody already know what a helmet and shoe is? Seems silly to put up all the signs." Well, yes, presumably most people do know what these things are (although don't assume everybody does), but people often don't know where they are in your store. In fact, most people aren't paying any attention at all as they wander through, and if you can do anything to make their experience easier, it's likely to keep them browsing longer, which means increased sales for you.

A quote from Chris Brennan, senior vice president global retail development for the NBA, comes to mind: "We know that if we keep the customer in the store for more than 10 minutes, we increase conversion by 200 percent." Now that's an astounding thing to consider, isn't it? Especially when something so simple as proper signage throughout your space to draw your customers to the key categories can have an impact like that.

So where do you start? First, remove every handwritten, mismatched, outdated, ripped or dirty sign that's in your store. Hire a local graphic designer (great project for a college design student if you're near a university) to create a basic category sign package. Include your logo, pick a bold, clean font, and be sure to have a strong color contrast between the sign background and the letter color. Black, white and red are usually the most effective colors for letter visibility.

At 3 Dots Design, when we create an effective sign package we like to build in several different levels, if possible: larger departmental signage (men's, women's, service, etc); then smaller category signage such as tubes, hydration, nutrition, grips, etc.; and often we top it off with smaller product and feature call-out signage (apparel feature call-outs, special pricing that needs attention, new product call-outs, energy food details, etc.). If making the different sizes doesn't work so well in your space, combine the first two levels into one nice size that works on your walls and floor fixtures — perhaps something like 6 inches by 20 inches. Signs can be easily attached to walls with adhesive Velcro or double-sided tape. We have great luck with using magnets for signs on fixtures.

Whatever direction you choose, keep it clean, simple and consistent. You'll be surprised by the impact such a simple element will have on your retail environment.

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