Signs Sell:

Once again an old adage holds true: "signs sell." Studies show that well-signed displays can increase sales by up to 400 percent! Signs can do a whole lot more: they can inform, direct, and attract customers. The value of effective signage is proven. Why not take a good hard look at your store's signage and make sure it's living up to its potential?

In the grocery industry, in-store signage has its greatest challenge. Surrounded by numerous buying options, the shopper is bombarded with information, colors and designs, labels, banners, products and signs competing for attention. Regardless of the size of your co-op's operation, clear signs can cut through this maze of visual and graphic overload. They can help you sell your goods more profitably and serve your customers more effectively as well.

How do signs sell? Again, they inform, direct and attract. Let's go back to basics and discuss how you can get the most from your signage effort.

In order to work, signs must be clear and concise and easy to read.

Whether they are used on special displays, end caps, side stacks, refrigerated cases or in-line grocery shelving, they should be of an appropriate size. For example, large end cap displays benefit by a large "theme" sign. About 16"x20" is a good size to draw attention to the "theme" of the display.

Key products displayed on the end cap should be individually signed. Stacks of five cases or more should be accompanied by signs with a minimum size of 5"x7". Shelved products can benefit by signs as small as 3"x5". A good rule of thumb is 10 percent of display space devoted to signage. Remember, the sign should attract attention to and enhance the product, not hide it.

Size is not everything. The sign must be clear and concise -- easily read and to the point. Find and try to rely on someone who has attractive and bold calligraphic style. Consistent print style is much less visually confusing than signs haphazardly produced by a variety of well-meaning staff. Briefly emphasize the qualities of the product offered -- organic, local, no salt, etc. Clearly identify the product -- stress the brand name for future product recognition, state the variety, and the size (this can be abbreviated). Promotional signs, ones that emphasize value through reduced price, must include the regular price as well as boldly emphasizing the "new low price." (If you are concerned about too much hype, why are you promoting it in the first place?!) Another rule of thumb: on price promo signs, 30-50 percent of the surface area should be devoted to price. Again, make your message clear, informative and visible.

Recently, our staff graphic artist produced a striking poster size dragon to complement our oriental food "Year of the Dragon" endcap. If you do not have similar resources available on your staff, check with suppliers or manufacturers, who frequently have attractive posters that can define the theme of the display. Or, try a local high school or college for "starving artists" who can provide what you need while supplementing their careers.

One important factor often overlooked is the material used for sign stock. We recommend a card stock that is thick enough to be rigid yet easy to cut. Try using a color-coded system that easily differentiates promos and specials from new items or product information signs. Naturally, bright colors attract attention. If your store has a color decorating theme, complement it. If your budget allows, have your sign stock printed with your logo; this will reinforce store identity.

Sign location is critical. Eye level is best, but not always possible. Face signs towards the heaviest in-store traffic, and don't be afraid to put signs on sides of displays if possible.

Supply catalogues offer a wide variety of fixtures and accessories used to display signs to their best advantage. Shelf clips, either metal or plastic, are ideal for in-line grocery shelving and can be used on end cap displays with shelf molding. Wide masking tape, looped to itself, is fine for signs on side stacks and other free standing applications.

Judicious use of signs can help the smart retailer serve the consumer well, by calling attention to value. Signs can help your customers make informed choices, and they are your co-op's opportunity to stress its strengths and uniqueness. Use 'em!

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