It’s a well-known fact that wayfinding signage and strategic visuals are vital to helping visitors navigate a retail space and enhancing their shopping experience. After all, the human brain is hard-wired for visual content.
Here’s some data to back up that claim:
- Over 80 percent of all information processed by the brain is visual data
- The brain can process images in as quickly as 13 milliseconds
- Text illustrations perform 323 percent better than plain text
- 91 percent of consumers prefer visual content rather than text
- Colored visuals increase readership by 80 percent
It stands to reason, then, that the more engaging visuals and signage that your retail store has, the more opportunities you have to drive customers into your store and influence purchasing decisions.
Understanding why signage is so vital
As a small business retailer, you may not have the budget to try out the new technologies that big-box stores have access to. Still, implementing the right wayfinding and signage strategy throughout your store can contribute in the following ways:
Encourage impulse buying
Visual merchandising and promotional signage have a causal effect on impulse purchases. Well-placed in-store promotions, particularly at the end of an aisle where a lot of traffic falls, has a positive influence on product attractiveness.
Combining signage with atmospheric cues like lighting and music can stimulate shopping enjoyment and contribute to impulse buying behavior.
Visual cues are a cost-effective loss prevention method to dissuade potential shoplifters from targeting your business. As shoplifters survey their surroundings, anti-theft signage can intimidate would-be thieves.
To maximize efficiency, place signage near your storefront and around surveillance cameras as shoplifters check to see where your store cameras are installed. The text on your signs should be easy to read and reflect your company branding.
Improve flow control
Directional signage, whether it hangs from the ceiling or comes as a floor decal, can help time-pressed customers gain visible access to vital information. During peak shopping hours, directional signage can ease customer movement or spark impulse buying.
In the current pandemic crisis, directional signage can be used as a preventative measure, helping ensure social distancing protocols are maintained and followed.
Optimizing signage for success
With the benefits of signage clearly defined, let’s take a strategic look at how you can use signage to bring customers, both new and repeat, into your brick-and-mortar store.
1. Use a variety of signage types
Each type of signage serves a specific purpose. Directional signage, for example, helps customers easily navigate their way around your store. But directional signage can also be used to highlight particular areas of interest to drive conversions.
Other essential signage types to include in your retail store include:
Similar to directional signage, informational signage is a wayfinding element that tells customers where they need to go. By having information systematically organized in an orderly fashion, your customer can have a smoother shopping experience.
Displayed next to your storefront, the main focus of outdoor signage is brand awareness. These exterior signs serve to generate enough interest in your brand that a passerby comes inside. Outdoor signage can take many forms, from entrance signs and window signs to sidewalk signs.
To positively influence customer behavior, you need signs with clear call-to-actions. Persuasive signage combines convincing language and attractive imagery to advertise a specific product. Such highly actionable signs are best used for in-store promotions and new or featured items.
2. Display readable signs
No matter the format or purpose, every type of signage has an ideal size. Take outdoor signage as an example. If outdoor signs are too small, your brand limits its exposure to walk-by traffic. So, what’s a good rule of thumb when determining signage sizes?
According to Dubai’s top signage and wayfinding consultants, when it comes to font size, use a 10 to 100 size guide. That is, for every 100 feet of visibility, your sign requires 10 inches of letter height. This ensures optimal readability and guarantees maximum visibility.
3. Consider location
While scale and size matter, location is everything. As signage provides navigational cues and helps shoppers to orient themselves, well-placed signs maintain optimal customer flow and contribute to the overall shopping experience.
To facilitate effective customer flow, place informational signage at crucial entry and egress points throughout your store. Informational signage like a “Wait Here” sign at the end of a queue offers an exact wait point and prevents customer crowding.
Likewise, persuasive signs should be strategically placed in high-traffic areas to advertise in-store promotions and featured items better.
4. Simplify typography and imagery
The focus of any sign is its message. If there are too many words on your sign or the imagery is too busy, you overcomplicate the sign’s message. This can lead to confusion and cause your shoppers to ignore your signs.
To optimize the text of your signage, follow one of print journalism’s most important principles – the punch line matters. This means your message should be clear and concise, with no extra words or fluff. It would be best if you also kept your sign’s text to under 15 words to avoid overcrowding.
Regarding imagery, don’t be afraid to have fun and show off your brand personality. But be sure to keep the focus on shopper comprehension. Contrast also plays an essential role in signage design.
Pair hues that are distinguishable from each other, like black and white or red and yellow.
5. Keep inclusivity in mind
Offering accessibility through signage, will make every customer, regardless of disability or limitation, feel welcome. To make the shopping experience more comfortable and enjoyable, all interactive signage should be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.
This requires all informational, directional, and even persuasive signage to make use of tactile characters like Braille. Contrasting colors and legible fonts should be used to amplify sign readability further.
Height is also a vital factor in determining your interior signage’s accessibility. When signage includes tactile characters, they must be mounted explicitly between 40 to 60 inches from the ground to ensure optimum viewing and reading height.
An effective signage and wayfinding strategy can significantly contribute to the sales of your retail business.
A truly useful retail sign can serve as an additional sales member of your team, answering any questions your customers have and directing them to key features and products throughout your store.
By making use of the strategies above and leveraging the right types of signs for your store, your business can cash in on increased foot traffic, and more importantly, sales.
Zak Zakaria is a Waymaker at dezigntechnic in Dubai who also previously worked as the company’s Graphic Designer and Art Director. Zak is a creative with work experience in multiple multinational agencies such as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. Signage design is a family business, making Zak’s personal experience with signage his longest professional commitment.