Give ‘Em Something They Can Feel: On the Limits of Retail Signage

Don’t get us wrong: prioritizing clear, readable signage and bold, attention-getting displays in high-traffic areas will always have an important place in any store design plan. As retail installers, we’re always thinking about how the right techniques can help to make decor materials shine, but a new study suggests that for sales, the ‘wow factor’ of your visual displays are only half a blueprint for success.

Business in the Front

A recent study conducted using Eye Faster’s eye-movement mapping technology aimed to track the paths customers took through stores while noting every part of the store that caught their eye–and all the parts that didn’t. Not all of what the study found will be surprising to seasoned merchandising experts and store layout planners. Front-of-store promotional displays got the most eyeballs, with 40% of all customers showing the promos some level of attention. First impressions have always been crucial for the retail world, so front entrance displays already receive a lion’s share of stores’ most attention-grabbing promotions. What may surprise is the profitability rate of this kind of attention: the study found that just 0.4% of front-of-store displays received any product interaction by customers who viewed displays, a rate much lower than even less frequently viewed displays found throughout the rest of the store.

Follow the Customer Beeline

That’s right: your customers tend to see your front-of-store promos while they’re beelining past to get to the specific shopping category they’re already interested in. The study also showed what many of us can attest from our own personal shopping trips: though store traffic does generally flow more through certain areas (and perimeter planning is crucial), it’s risky to assume that most customers will see your signage and promotions just because you’ve created a prominent display in a high-traffic area. Customers who take an unexpected path through your store as a shortcut to their intended section only see the sales and promotions they encounter on that path, so it’s important to think about the destination categories and “beelines” that may be popular in your store and find out how you might be able to reach each customer type through that path with the promotions that might appeal to them.

Hands-On Product Engagement

Signage and promotions are important, but never underestimate the importance of simply getting your key products into the customer’s hands. A whopping 56% of shoppers who handled a product ended up making a purchase for an item within that same category, which means that designing destination category displays to be as inviting and engaging as possible is as important as optimizing those high-traffic areas. Shopping eyes tend to scan the shelves just below eye-level, making mid-shelf a key area of focus. Try arranging product selection horizontally rather than vertically, focusing on higher-value items at eye level. Discount and bulk items can go below for value shoppers willing to scan a bit longer. Where possible, encourage customers to touch and interact with products by getting creative with sampling, interactive displays, or live demos.

Trying to move a high-ticket item too fragile for handling by the public? Try looking into an interactive digital display for customers to use. As long as you are priming your store design elements to encourage customers to make the shift from scanning to engaging with your products, you’ll be on the right track.

Find out more about our signage installation services, or send us a question here.