The Impact of Retail Signage

One of, if not the earliest, examples of retail signage is found at the site of ancient Ephesus in Turkey. Etched into a rock beside a marble pathway is a picture of a footprint and a lovely lady. Below this sketch is lettering. Loosely translated, this ancient sign reads “this lady is sad and lonely. You can make her feel better and she can make you feel great. Bring money. Follow the direction of the footprint.” An old retail sign for one of the world’s oldest professions!

Retail signage is not a new concept; even in ancient times, signage was used to influence purchasing decisions. For centuries, humans have recognized that retail signage is a very powerful tool. An article by Jennifer LeClaire entitled Unlocking the Psychology of Signage states, “According to the Small Business Association, effective POP signage develops a memory for a location of the products or services, reinforces a memory and extends recall of other advertising efforts, attracts new customers and modifies customary purchase decisions or habits.

The effect of retail signage extends far beyond the impulse point of purchase. It influences repeat purchases and draws the consumer back to the store. Effective signage also influences patrons to purchase items they may not have otherwise tried. It is not enough to rely on the products to “sell themselves”. Retail signage brings the consumer to the product, creates a memory of the product and greatly increases the chance of the repeat business.

Truly effective signage is placed in such a way that consumer feels calm, composed, directed and positively influenced. Poor retail signage management, such as signs hanging from varying lengths, misdirection due to poor placement, dated or dirty signage creates a sense of chaos, a rushed feeling, and a disorientation that will ultimately drive the customer from the store.

When you are planning your marketing strategy, do not overlook the importance of retail signage. As for the sign in ancient Ephesus, it must have been effective because there is a permanent groove worn into the marble walkway from foot traffic to the brothel! Who knows? Perhaps you will have the next historic sign that tourists flock from all over the world to see. Until then, we will just have to keep going to Ephesus.

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