One of the most overlooked capital improvements by garden retailers today is investing in their store’s brand by spending money to communicate with their customers. Most manufacturers stopped providing free signage long ago. With fewer garden center associates selling in the aisles today, signage is your number-one tool to sell your customers.
Locally-owned grower-retailers have long concentrated on distinguishing themselves by showing a product mix that differentiates them from the box stores. However, today’s consumer is constantly evolving into a different shopper who is starved for time and gaining newer ways to determine buying needs. As an industry, we’ve made great strides in manufacturer packaging and use of color, but we’ve ignored ways to improve, introduce or upgrade our own in-store signage. What makes your product a must-have for today’s gardening consumer?
Time and technology are priorities for the modern consumer. Every market research company reports how consumers have turned to the internet for store content, product ratings and product information. One report claims that 72 percent of consumers research their purchases via smartphone prior to their retail buy.
In the store, speed is often equally important. Speed is measurable by time plus distance, isn’t it? If you’re a retailer, time plus distance equals sales opportunity (and increased sales). Retail success is predicated on store penetration and holding customer interest longer. Point-of-decision sales are equally important to communicate better (and faster) to customers to make a purchase. No more fine print and excessive wording; these have been replaced by brighter colors, bolder and larger fonts, strategic placement and, most of all, consistency and repetition throughout the store.
While it’s a strategy to provide a colorful, carnival-type look in your store with signs at every level and staged everywhere, you’re more than likely providing an overkill of signage. The consumer can’t possibly concentrate on anything relevant and tends to block out the overload. There has to be a purpose and a plan for communicating.
For time’s sake, here are some simple suggestions to use when planning out your store signage needs.
• Review your store signs for condition, consistency and placement. Examine your space by starting from just inside the front entrance and repeat at every opening. Can you see your signs? Can you read them effortlessly?
• To make it manageable, maintain three levels for your signs. The top level should be for movement and be large enough in size and text to see from a distance. This helps customers quickly determine where they are and where they need to go. Some key examples include: Entrance, Exit, Nursery, Greenhouse, Customer Service, Restrooms, Registers, Café, etc. Also, your use of Clearance can benefit from higher positioning, for viewing from a distance by customers.
• The middle level contains specific departments or categories. These examples include: Annuals, Perennials for Sun, Perennials for Shade, Evergreens, Roses, Shade Trees, Flowering Shrubs, Azaleas, Grasses and Vines, Vegetables for outside areas, Chemicals, Solutions, Lawn Care, Pottery, Seed Starting, Houseplants, Wire and Supports, Watering Products, Tools, Fence and Edging, or possibly a seasonal event or display like Electrics or Wreaths & Garlands. It may also include major brands that you want to communicate, e.g., Scotts, Espoma, Preen, Lyric or Proven Winners.
• The lower levels (within the consumer reach) are for information. This includes product information, price, seasonal goods, sale identification, selling bullets and your store name or logo to maintain impressions.
By planning ahead to be more consistent and repetitive throughout your store signage efforts, your store (and brand) communication becomes crystal clear. Your reward will be shown in increased sales and profits.
If time permits, visit national retailers to see how they communicate today, and follow the sensible examples that you can successfully emulate. Good selling!