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How & Why Retail Signage Works

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

Retail signage supply
How & Why Retail Signage Works

The first type of marketing communication is retail signage.

Evidence suggests that in ancient Babylon, Egypt, Athens, Pompeii, and Rome, merchants used signs as their major means of communication. Signs were used to identify a store, advertise prices, and set one company apart from another.

You need to stand out if you want to run a successful retail store that brings in consumers and boosts sales, and that usually starts with signage.

When designing your store, consider how you can communicate with your consumers and increase foot traffic by using high-quality signage.

But if done incorrectly, signs can overwhelm and even confuse people. Retail signage shouldn't be an afterthought; it's just as crucial to your brick and mortar business as the design of your website.

This manual will walk you through the fundamentals of business signage, several forms of signage, and suggestions for making signs for your company.

What does store signage?

Any graphic display that conveys a message to a target audience is considered business signage. For a small business, it is the most efficient and affordable type of advertising. Outdoor signs, storefront displays, informative signs, digital signs, and other forms of signage are all examples of signage.

The initial point of in-person contact between a company and potential clients is through business signage. A sign, whether it is placed outside or inside your store, can increase brand recognition and inspire customers to come in.

Over 60% of businesses report a 10% boost in sales as a result of installing or updating their signs, which is consistent with research by the Signage Foundation that shows signs have a major beneficial influence on sales.

There are numerous variations of signs. Most small companies have a pole sign or a sign on a wall. The finest signs, however, deliver signals to clients that are distinct, succinct, and obvious.

It goes without saying that you'll want to use business signage in your retail establishment given its economic significance.

The reason behind store signage

Signage serves three basic functions: directing people inside of stores, enticing customers and foot traffic, and advertising and marketing.

Marketing and advertising

Signage is frequently employed for marketing and advertising objectives. Most people see billboards as signs. Over 82% of US consumers notice billboards when passing through their town, therefore these large-scale outdoor advertisements often attract a lot of foot traffic and attention.

Customers' memories and perceptions of your brand are significantly influenced by your signage. Attractive signs may leave a positive first impression and entice customers to your business. It helps customers understand the goods and services you provide and what to anticipate from your company.

Attracting clients and pedestrians

The simplest way to draw customers and direct them to your establishment is with retail and shop signs. In fact, according to a research by the Sign Research Foundation, 61% of US customers were unable to locate a business due of its sign's modest size or ambiguous design (SRF)

Based on the signs, customers learn and infer all kinds of things about your company. Your outdoor advertising complements your window displays to arouse interest and entice clients inside.

Signs also inform individuals when they are in the proper location. Before a customer approaches the door and is greeted by your personnel, a well-made sign will provide a wonderful first impression.

Assisting shoppers at the store

How did you navigate from the security checkpoint to your boarding gate the last time you were in a large airport? Was it simple? If so, effective "wayfinding" was the cause of that.

Retail wayfinding is the practice of businesses using visual graphics, tactile elements, and aural cues to guide customers to the products they're looking for. With the aid of these signs, customers may more easily find their way through your store and have a better shopping experience.

A key retail discipline that has gained support is visual merchandising. Businesses can design themed product displays to draw customers into the store, and then utilize signage to make them easy for them to find.

You can use signs to visually divide your business into sections by apparel type, brand, or category, depending on the size of your store.

Benefits of retail signage

Retail signage can help your store in a number of ways.

Inexpensive marketing technique

Consumers can learn about your business' existence thanks to a sign. Potential clients are drawn to signs, which can make you stand out. It contributes to your branding and is a key way to affect your revenue.

Outdoor signs can advertise new products and aid customers in finding your establishment. Additionally, they assist businesses in communicating with passersby who might become consumers. Consistent signage can make it easier for someone to find you if they first learn about your company on social media before visiting you in person.

Signs can run along the side of a business or hang about at eye level. Signs for tiny businesses claim your place if you're next to several large corporations. Sometimes it's impossible to outsell corporate merchants, but you can use a sign to identify your territory and attract attention.

Interacting with consumers

The most crucial components of visual communication are signs. Consider your most recent highway journey: what led you from point A to point B? You are accurate if you said signs (and Google Maps). In a similar manner, company signage engages clients and directs them to where they need to go.

Several goals can be accomplished with in-store signage:

  • Aid visitors in navigating your store

  • Help consumers find the things they're looking for to boost impulse purchases

  • assist in influencing consumer behavior

  • Promote deals and events

Every time a customer shops for something, they have to choose. They must assess the stopping power of your store compared to looking for alternative opportunities. They base their selections on the advertising you give them. So much so that 29% of customers base their decisions on information sent by store signs, and 34% of customers link sign quality to both store and product quality.

Using well-designed and strategically positioned signage, a business may interact with customers and increase sales.

A rise in sales

The most crucial information that a consumer is looking for is often provided by a sign message, which normally includes (1) the brand and (2) the kinds and pricing of the things for sale. This sought-after information must be clearly communicated on signs so that customers can spend less time and effort searching for a product or service before making a purchase.

If you don't include this information on your signs, customers will not be assisted in finding a reliable good or service. As a result of installing or replacing their signage, 60% of firms reported average sales of 10% or higher. Additionally, research conducted by Mvix shows that digital signage can increase average transaction quantities by 29.5%.

Signage types

You should take into account the following six essential types of retail signage for your physical store:

  • Digital billboards

  • outdoor banners

  • signs with information

  • Convincing signage

  • signs committed to the disabled

  • Mats

Digital billboards

An installation known as digital signage shows video or multimedia content for commercial or educational reasons. A media player that sends content to the display powers it. Businesses may easily and quickly make changes by using a content management system to handle the information either locally or in the cloud.

Digital signage offer a remarkable 83% remember rate, which is twice as high as traditional advertising's retention rate.

Shoppers that are tech-savvy are constantly looking for innovative new methods to enhance their shopping experience. In order to promote products and facilitate sales, Australian design company Prendi developed the Adventure Station, an interactive touchscreen experience for retail establishments.

Various types of content, including infographics, films, 3D models, animations, and more, are displayed on the touchscreen. It can be tailored to incorporate smartphone integrations, social network linkages, and product navigation. Many digital screen systems feature a central hub that manages every screen in your establishment.

Displaying your best products, offering information, and streamlining the purchasing process are the objectives of digital signage. You should definitely use this type of sign in your store because digital displays receive 400% more views than static displays.

Outdoor banners

Because it's what brings customers in the door and removes the biggest barrier to building a relationship with a potential customer, outdoor signage is probably the most significant sort of signage in physical retail. Customers' first impressions of your company are formed by your exterior signage.

These signs must do more than just identify you; they must also entice customers and pique their interest in your products. Effective signage may persuade visitors who have frequently passed your business to finally give it a try and enter.

Chalkboard sidewalk signs, entry signs, murals, awnings, and window signs are all examples of outdoor signage. Place signage where it will be seen by as many passersby and drivers by as possible.

Signs with information

Departmental, directional, organizational, or wayfinding signage are other names for informational signage. These signage make it easier for customers to move about your area. A consumer is more likely to rely on a convenience in the future if they can locate what they are looking for more easily.

It goes without saying that directional signage directs clients in the right direction. All informational signs must be succinct and simple to read so that customers can grasp the message with just a quick glance. The easiest way to achieve this is with big, strong fonts and bright color palettes.

It becomes obvious to you once you begin installing instructional signs whether your store is set up in an orderly manner with some rhyme or purpose. This not only benefits your clients in a systematic way, but it also streamlines your internal organization.

Convincing signage

Through persuasive wording or alluring visuals, persuasive signage affects consumer behavior. These signs may promote a certain good or offer. Using persuasive signage or displays can change customer behavior and increase interaction with products that might otherwise go ignored. Retailers can share precise information about new, seasonal, or featured items using signs that highlight a certain category of product.

Brands may communicate with customers more effectively by using persuading signage. These retail displays have the power to transform an average product into a well-kept secret. Additionally, strong persuasive message can raise the perceived worth of goods, build brand recognition, and boost retail sales.

Just keep in mind that while persuasive sales signs should be interesting and humorous, they shouldn't be the main focus. The most persuasive signs entice customers to the merchandise.

Signs committed to the disabled

All customers must be made to feel welcome. Customers with disabilities will have a more pleasant and happy experience if parking, entrances/exits, bathrooms, cashier stations, fitting rooms, and elevators are all accessible. If your establishment has accessible features but doesn't advertise them, you are seriously harming your clients.

Install the proper signage to inform customers that they can ask an employee to bring the ramp to the door if your business employs a portable ramp with a doorbell or intercom. If the main entrance to your store and the accessible entrance are separate, a sign at the main door must direct customers to the accessible entrance.

For consistency and accessibility, all permanent interior signs for restrooms, elevators, doors, and exits must also feature Braille and tactile characters in readable fonts and contrasting colors, and they must be mounted at particular heights (usually 40 to 60 inches from the ground).


It might surprise you to learn that mats can serve as signs, but they are actually the most adaptable type of signage. In addition to meeting needs for hygiene and safety, mats often serve marketing and educational objectives.

You could decide to employ mats to promote your logo or for branding purposes. In areas of the store where hanging signage is less practical, mats can be used for wayfinding directions or to alert customers to products that are on sale. Inclement weather also helps stores stay cleaner thanks to mats.

Finally, carpets reduce the strain that workers' prolonged standing places on their bodies. Cushioned mats with ergonomic designs encourage worker renewal.

Consider the following advice if you choose to spend money on store signage:

  1. Be precise. Narrowcasting is the idea that a personalized sign may deliver the ideal message at the ideal location. Include specifics like location-specific directions and pertinent product information when creating signs.

  2. Ensure simplicity. The message on your sign must be obvious, yet one with too much information is frequently ignored. Apply the "five-second rule": if you can sum up the sign's essential points in less time than five seconds, it is acceptable. If it takes longer, condense your message or employ multiple signals as opposed to simply one.

  3. Type your headline here. Your goal of being succinct and easy to understand should be aided by this. Can you make your text simpler? Is it possible to eliminate prepositions and superfluous words? A message hierarchy is used on effective custom signs, with the call to action coming last.

  4. Put together a call to action. Signs are advertising, and any effective advertiser understands that you need to persuade the audience to take action. An action call should be made in this situation. Customers must be motivated to act in order for a sign to be effective.

  5. Make it readable. Any size sign's most crucial component is legibility. For your signs to be effective, customers must be able to read them. According to a recent study by, responses to smaller signs were down 75% from those to their larger counterparts.

  6. Think of lighting. Businesses can illuminate signs both internally and outside thanks to LED technologies. The newest development in sign illumination is the use of cove and soft-lit light.

Putting up signs in your shop

Consider your silent yet most effective salesperson to be your signage. Signage makes it easier for clients to find what they're looking for without them having to ask the sales personnel simple questions.

Similar to how you set expectations for an employee's behavior and appearance, your signage's color, visibility, message, and quality also need to be developed and thought out.

Similar to employees, signs can be assigned on-the-job duties such as providing sales information, wayfinding, and general product information.

Start incorporating signage into your retail operation right away. You can build one on your own or have a nearby business develop one for you by using a service like Vistaprint. In either case, you'll quickly discover how signs improve customer experiences and have an effect on your entire organization.

Credits: This article is inspired and thanks to Michael Keenan's brilliant post on Shopify.

Related information: Signagesearch ; Lamar ; Mvix ; Allwaymatting


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