Even though life may not return to normal as soon as we'd like, we are making progress. More customers are returning to in-store shopping, and retailers are looking at the next few months as the start of the resurgence. To get ready for that upswing, retailers should prepare now. One key way for them to do that is to make sure their signage is fresh, welcoming and relevant.
Stores still need the emergency signage created at the beginning of the pandemic to reinforce a safe shopping environment, such as reminders about mask wearing or maintaining social distance. But after more than a year of use, those signs could probably use some refreshing. Now is the perfect time to prepare for guests to return. Take a look around store locations and consider which communications need to be updated—in the message, material, use or design.
Here are ideas on how to approach your business’s brick and mortar signage revamp:
Time for a refresh
In many retail locations, store signs are at least a year old, if not older. "During the pandemic, retailers focused on acquiring new signs to manage safety and hygiene," said Jason Radford, National Account Manager for FedEx Office. "Older store signs that were already due for a refresh became a lower priority. For those shut down during the pandemic's height, the task of refreshing older signs may have fallen completely off the list. Now, however, signs throughout could be showing wear and tear."
Some signage has been replaced since the pandemic began, but surface graphics in high-traffic areas (adhesive floor graphics and clings that direct traffic in aisles and checkout lines) are likely scuffed and showing signs of wear. But even if they may have been replaced, over time, customers see those signs so often, the message is easily ignored, mentioned Radford. "They've now become like wallpaper."
Changing the size, color, layout, or location draws new attention to the messages. Co-branding signs or adding other communication highlighting merchandise on sale can help bring the customer's attention to a marketing message.
From the customers' perspective
Look at your store from your customers' perspectives. While some may have shopped in-store recently, others may be cautiously returning. Don’t assume all customers know the current hygiene protocols. Make sure your signage guides customers to the sanitized carts, socially distanced spacing for checkout lines and the hand sanitizer bottle next to the register. Your signage will help customers feel more confident that they can shop safely.
Amid the vital cautionary and informational signs, be sure to have signs that welcome customers in. This is an exceptional way to convey your brand and show appreciation for the in-store visit.
When reviewing store signs, fight the "wallpaper" syndrome. Make signs more eye-catching by adding unique shapes and sizes to the graphics arsenal. Eliminate handwritten and outdated signs both in the front of the store and the employee-only areas that indicate now outdated changes in store hours, capacity levels or old pandemic employee policies.
New uses now standard for the future
"Even beyond changing a sign’s visuals to keep the message fresh, retailers can use signs in new ways to connect with their customers," Radford said. Some stores update their signage and add helpful marketing information on directional signs or coupon information on floor graphics at the checkout lane. This information can quickly be conveyed by embedding QR codes on the signs, so customers can scan the codes on their phones. "Using surface graphics and QR codes may continue beyond the pandemic for marketing, as consumers become used to scanning store information on their phones," he said.
Stores are finding additional uses for surface graphics. Instead of using them primarily for floor signs, some big box stores use them instead of banners for outside signage. Surface graphics are removable, yet stand up to weather patterns, making it easier for retailers to change signs as needed.
Best practices for prioritizing
Although most retailers don't have the budget or capacity to update every piece of signage in stores, they must prioritize which ones make the most impact. Currently, for businesses with curbside pickup, this signage may be most essential.
For many store owners, curbside pickup or return is still an evolving mode of store operation. As stores shift from making this service temporary to permanent, they will need long lasting signs in the pickup area that direct customers through the process. Since pickup areas may be different at each store location, signage provides clear information, allowing retailers to reduce customer confusion and frustration.
Not every business has a curbside pickup option, so those retailers should once again consider the in-store shopping experience with a fresh perspective. What does a new customer see when entering the store, and how does that affect the customer’s impression? This will help retailers determine where to focus first.
As retailers look at life beyond the pandemic, a fresh take—both on signage and new ways to use it—provides retailers an opportunity to communicate with customers and employees in a meaningful, yet often overlooked, way. Learn more about how FedEx Office solutions can support your corporate printing needs.