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By Diane Chiasson, Chiasson Consultants Inc.
For convenience stores, where customers are usually in a rush and looking to pick things up quickly, signage and point-of-sales materials are often the cheapest and simplest way to send your message across. The information you post on signage and POS (point-of-sale) materials also offers customers an extra service as it eliminates the need to make personal contact with a store employee, therefore helping them save time and effort while shopping. The use of colorful, visually appealing and strategically placed signs is an indispensable tool of a great marketing campaign.
POS marketing materials play a critical role in determining what product a consumer will purchase, especially since research has proven most shoppers enter a store without a solid plan of what they are looking to buy. A good signage and POS program will definitely help your store increase impulse buys, as well as effectively relay information about the quality of your products.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to create your own signage and POS program that will help to start increasing sales right away:
1. Set a goal and budget
As with any other component of marketing, the first step you must make is to identify who your customers are, and set a realistic goal of what you wish to sell them with your signage and POS program. Since you obviously can’t put a sign on every product in the store, you need to prioritize the categories or items you want to highlight in your store. You need to develop a commitment to your overall signage strategy, and be consistent with it. It is also important to set aside a budget that is solely dedicated to your signage and POS program, as it is something that needs to be constantly changed and updated. Many retailers who don’t want to spend the money make their own signs and do a very poor job. There is no consistency with their homemade signs, and without consistency, there is no way to establish their brand.
2. Use signs to convey price and brand identity
At the very least, your signage must clearly and quickly convey pricing information and reinforce brand identification. An effective signage program, though, means more than writing informative signs for products on the shelves. You don’t want to confuse customers and overload them with information. Signs should be clear, well written, and be consistent and cohesive with the look of the rest of the store. They should not look as if they were written in a rush, but as if they were written with a great deal of thought and precision.
3. Keep it simple and easy for staff to change
Since convenience stores see a lot of regular customers, and also customers who are looking for quick and easy take-home meals or products, it is crucial for c-stores to update their signage and POS materials often and regularly. Whether you choose chalk art, printouts or a digital board, the signage program you choose should be kept simple. It should also be easy for your staff to change and update by themselves without destroying the integrity and direction of signage program. If you choose to make handwritten signs, have the same person on your staff be responsible for writing all the signs, so that the handwriting is consistent throughout your store.
4. Keep it consistent with your brand
Your signs should have continuity in their design. They should all have the same store logo with distinctive graphic elements. Maintain continuity by placing the same kind of information on the same spots of your sign. For example, the price will always be at the bottom right-hand corner, while the origin of the product will always be placed at the top left-hand corner, etc.
5. Consider the chalkboard
Handwritten and hand-drawn signs tend to convey freshness, which is vital in the foodservice industry. A common and effective signage tool is the chalkboard, which is cost-effective and easy to maintain. Chalkboards work well for all types of signs including menu boards, in-case signs and larger hanging signs. When a chalkboard is framed in wood or metal, it truly conveys a message of old-time European warmth and freshness that psychologically enhances the shopping experience for your customers. Just make certain you keep the chalkboards clean, and that the writing is clear, concise and consistent throughout the store.
6. Use bright colors and graphics
Colors are critical, especially when shoppers are tired or are in a rush. You need to use bright colors to attract attention from weary customers. Another benefit from using a chalkboard is you can use a variety of bright-colored chalks such as yellow, green, blue, white and pink, which really stand out on a black background.
By adding graphics, you can help customers save time on reading by identifying products via a picture -- like drawing a little piece of cheese next to cheese signs, or flowers next to flower signs.
7. Take advantage of vendor-provided brochures
Vendors, especially meat and cheese vendors, usually provide a lot of brochures about their products, so take advantage of these free promotional items. They are an easy and useful way for customers to get information about the healthfulness and/or origins of each product.
8. Set up POS materials for holidays and big events
Every month, feature a new promo for an upcoming holiday or event. For example, your c-store can set up a big display of beer, chips, dips, hot dogs and sausages for the upcoming Super Bowl in February, and effectively use your signage and POS materials to sell these items together. Check to see if any of your beer vendors are holding a contest or their own promo for the Super Bowl, and use the free promotional materials to add to your display.
Other columns by Diane Chiasson:
7 Quick-Fix Tips to Enhance Food Merchandising in the Foodservice Area
Six Steps to Creating an Effective Menu That Sells
© 2009 Chiasson Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at1-888-926-6655 or [email protected], or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com