Retail sales depend greatly on giving prospective customers a clear idea of what you’re selling, and then making it fast and easy for them to get what they want, when they want it.

That’s why retail stores often live (or die) on the quality of their signage. Whether you are running a “Mom and Pop” sandwich shop or coordinating brand and local signage for a regional chain, here are some simple suggestions to help you open a new store, or improve the signage in any retail operation:

Keep Your Signs Looking New

In most retail situations, nothing turns off potential customers more quickly and permanently than the feeling your store is old, out of date, or dirty. Your signage serves as a major clue to all these factors, so make sure it’s giving the right messages:

  • If it looks old, update it.
  • If it lights up, keep all illumination working.
  • If it’s outside, keep it clean.

Signage trends change over time, so any sign you put up years ago may be giving away its excessive age. This is particularly true for exterior signs, which must compete for attention with many newer signs.

Take a walk or drive around your store’s “visual neighborhood” and see what other signs are on view. If your store’s signage looks old and dowdy compared with some other signs in the area, consider looking into ways to update or even replace it.

Keep Your Sign’s Message Clear

What business are you really in? Marketing and sales consultants often pose that question to business owners and managers to help them focus on their core business and primary sources of profits. But there’s little advantage to knowing your business if your signage doesn’t convey that information to the world.

Be sure your signage contains enough information – both text and graphics – to let everyone who sees it know instantly what benefits you offer them, as well as your hours of operation and a good contact method for asking questions.

Keep Them Coming¬†With Sign “Hooks”

Whether your retail operation relies on vehicle or foot traffic, you’ll draw in more people ready to do business with signage that’s highly visual, easily understood, and psychologically compelling.

This usually requires more than just your store’s name in lights. You’ll benefit from displaying special messages and topical “hooks” that support your primary signage by attracting extra attention. You can accomplish this via banners, electronic message centers, vivid lettering on your windows, and other variable signage systems.

Local artists can be found to help paint your windows with lettering, graphics, and other attention-getting devices. Change the visuals monthly, or at least quarterly, so they don’t become old and stale. When you find a good one, take a picture of it so you can re-create it again next time around. Have you been to a Trader Joe‘s recently? They keep the store feeling fresh with messaging about specials and new products in the windows, the aisles, and even the ceiling.

Of course, you’ll want to find the right balance between covering your windows with signage and leaving your windows clear so people can see the merchandise inside.

Keep Them Moving With Wayfinding Signage

Unless your store is the size of a closet or hallway (I’m talking about you, New York City), use interior “wayfinding” signs to help prospective customers find the merchandise they seek. Grocery and large drug stores always have directory signs above their aisles, but they rarely provide enough of the information people need to find what they want without receiving more help.

Add signs pointing to merchandise on special sale, to your most popular items, to seasonal needs, and to “must have” items (like umbrellas, on a rainy day!).

Here’s a surprise piece of information: Your store has a floor. Why not use it for signage to direct people to the most popular destinations. Perhaps: “Follow the yellow arrow to the candy aisle.” Or: “Look here! Our candy prices are unbeatable.”

Keep Words to a Minimum and Add Images to Your Signage

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s true in signage, too. Pictures will not only convey a good deal of information about the items you sell, but are more likely to catch attention than plain text.

At Metro Sign and Awning, we’re experts in creating just about any kind of signage your store needs. Contact us or give us a call, and we’ll be happy to review your current signage and suggest ways to improve it to produce a more favorable impact on your bottom line.