It can almost play the role of a de facto salesperson – catching the customer’s eye, conveying crucial information and offering powerful incentives for the customer to make a purchase.
But “done right” is the key phrase here. Signs in the wrong place, at the wrong height, facing the wrong direction, emphasizing the wrong words or images or that are too hard to read can be worse than useless because they create the impression that the store doesn’t really know how to put its products in a positive light effectively and professionally.
What’s more, the imperative to optimize signage strategies only becomes more challenging as technology causes the issue to evolve. Signage today can be as personalized and interactive as a customer’s laptop or tablet, so strategies today involve a good deal more than just what the sign will say and what it looks like.
Smart pet retailers also have to consider the mindset of the customer roaming the aisles. They need to create signage that will engage customers and help lead them to a crucial purchase decision.
A handy guide comes from Grafton, Wisconsin-based Frank Mayer and Associates, a company specializing in retail displays that offers five crucial tips that retailers can use to make their in-store signage more effective by personalizing it to customer preferences.
• First, evaluate the effectiveness of current in-store displays.
An effective evaluation requires specific metrics. Do you know what you want your signage to do for you, and can you measure whether it’s doing it? Mayer suggests creating a test phase in which performance with certain displays is measured against performance without them, using very specific metrics that can be measured and compared.
• Second, research new options such as POP displays, merchandising displays, digital signage and interactive kiosks.
These options can sometimes bridge the gap between the growth of online sales and the continued determination of consumers to visit brick-and-mortar stores. These sometimes expose customers who are in the store to other sales channels, including those online and in social media.
• Third, learn from success stories.
Who has done signage well? Why has it worked? Most retail display companies will be happy to share their stories because they want to to get your business. Of course, you need to assess any other retailer’s situation against your own.
A company that did well with a golf club display doesn’t necessarily provide the way forward for a retailer looking to sell aquariums or exotic birds. But often the same principles will translate from one situation to another. Having lots of knowledge is never a bad thing. You just have to know how to apply it correctly.
• Fourth, ask potential providers the right questions.
If you’re going to hire a consultant to help you develop a retail display strategy, you want to make sure they engage in the kind of thinking that will bring you success.
Question them on everything from their understanding of your needs and strategy to their ability to execute in terms of color, design, packing, shipping, length of time for the display and much more.
• Finally, implement and evaluate a new signage strategy.
This involves more than just putting up new signs, or even deploying new technology. It also involves knowing how you will measure and evaluate the strategy as you go through execution. Mayer suggests establishing a timeline for implementation and, if you have multiple locations, considering starting in a few test locations before going organization-wide with the new strategy.
Pet retailers have an advantage that many retailers don’t have when it comes to in-store displays, and that’s the visual appeal of their live inventory.
Those who have entered the store have largely prequalified themselves as pet lovers, so some of the research about customer preference is already done simply by virtue of the fact that a customer walked through the door.
But it’s no guarantee that pictures of puppies sells pets, let alone pet products and supplies. The display still has to engage the customer in a way that leads to action, and that requires a lot more thought and expertise than merely posting a sign and expecting people to like it.
Effective in-store displays can drive sales, but it can’t be done on the cheap and it can’t be done with a mentality that’s stuck in the past. Think it through, budget properly and make sure you know how to measure success. That will put you in the best position to turn your in-store displays into performance drivers.