Signs of the times

A well designed signage system in your store could be the equivalent of having another person on your team; a badly designed system could be the equivalent of costing you a person.

Consumers only really ‘read’ the signs they are interested in. They are bombarded with thousands each day and most signs do not even get scanned by the eye, never mind read.

The main categories of sign are:


Even in a small store, consumers need to know where different product categories are kept. They should be able to walk in the door, look up and see signs that indicate where the main categories are.

Departmental signage is usually more important for male shoppers, who are generally ‘hunters’, than female shoppers, who are generally -‘gatherers’.


Some products are ‘known value’ lines. These are products where the consumer knows the price down to the last penny, including newspapers, toilet paper and petrol. If priced wrongly, these products can create an image that you are too cheap or too expensive.

As far as signage is concerned, all that’s needed is the name of the product and the price. This is the simplest sign that you will write. If the price is right, they will buy.


Non-known value lines are impulse products where the consumer does not know the exact price. Research carried out at Michigan University in the US shows that signage for these products is crucial.

On non-known value signs, tell customers what the product is, give them three bullet-pointed benefits and then the price.

Many stores lose out on sales because they do not write good, non-known value signs.


Promotional signs create product events. The challenge is knowing how many of these events to have: it depends on how big your store is.

A small store may only be able to accommodate three events at any one time, while a larger store may be able to accommodate up to 12 events in the same period.

These events should be spaced equally throughout the store to ‘bounce’ the customer around. The key is to change the events regularly.

Clothes retailer Zara changes its events every two weeks. It works for them and it could work for you.


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