Opinion: It's a Sign

What you do with your signage is more important than how much you have
store window signage

Q: If we promoted every deal we have, the entire store would be covered in signs. There is a lot of talk about marketing and promotion of foodservice products, but what signage works best for varying retail categories?

A: It is impossible to measure the exact effect of every piece of signage or marketing initiative. Still, there is solid evidence that instore signage plays an important role in driving sales. Here are some pointers from my store experiences that have resulted in effective signage.

Stop nagging. Have you ever been nagged? Remember how you tuned it out? It is no different with promotional signage. And be deliberate about where you want the customer’s eye to go. Less is more.

Reinforce the message. Now that your message is more focused, reinforce it with store personnel, social media activity or pump messaging. Sometimes people need to hear and see it multiple times before they act.

Make it count. When you give a product a feature sign, get the most out of it by encouraging basket growth. Incorporate items that go together, even if only one of them is the main promotion.

Clearly label prices. Everything in your store should have a price label either on the shelf or on the product. Consumers today expect price transparency. If your category-management strategy has you charging a premium price for a certain product, stand behind it and communicate it appropriately. You don’t have to blast it to the world, but being sneaky about it will only damage your customers’ trust in your brand.

Establish a featured area. This is a prime, high-traffic area where you feature retail offers for short periods of time. You will be surprised how many regulars will say, “I didn’t know you sold this product.”

The front counter is special. If you clean up your point-of-sale area, your customers will come in and ask what’s different, even if you didn’t do anything else. When you put a promotional sign on the front counter now, you will get better results. But be careful: Too much at one time will diminish results.

Show some personality. Let’s be honest: Typical promotional signage can be boring. Connect with your customers by posting signage that makes them smile, chuckle or think.

Leverage POS technology. Several suppliers provide POS trigger-screen technology that alerts the clerk on every promotional pricing/deal in the pricebook. This reminds your team members to tell customers about deals that relate to what they are buying. For example, if they are buying a specific soft drink, the clerk could alert them to a two-for-one deal. The clerk gets to look like a hero for looking out for the customer, and you get the additional upsell dollars without anyone having to memorize every promotional deal. The retail locations that use this technology report an average of $18 in gross profit in upsells per day, assuming a 30% margin.

Promote more than low-price items for gas customers. We all want to get more gas customers inside the store, but remember to promote more than price. Does your fuel receipt have any space for a promotional message regarding deals inside?

And with that, I’m signing off.


Ieva Grimm, an industry insider for more than 15 years, spends her time working side by side with retailers in the convenience industry helping drive growth and profitability.

Have a question for our category-management expert? Email alewis@winsightmedia.com.