Signs of the Times
Use captivating graphics to capture more sales.
As a retailer, do you know what some of your best weapons are when the economy is weak? Signage and graphics.
That’s according to Display and Design Ideas magazine’s 2003 Signage and Graphics Industry Survey. If sales flatten out or decline and you have to cut retail staff, point-of-purchase signage can help pump up your business.
But graphics and signage can do much more for you. Today, consumers are looking for diverse, newer, more eclectic shopping venues. Malls are losing consumer traffic yearly, says Mike Tesler, president of Retail Concepts in Norwell, Mass. Research has shown that people aren’t responding to the homogenized look — stores that look like other stores, Tesler says. “This is where the pro shop and the sports specialty retailer has a real chance to stand out.”
Graphic design gurus are pushing new techniques that can make even small pro shops and stand-alone tennis retailers stand out, ensuring their graphics dollars make the biggest impact. Here are some timely tips from retail industry pros.
Signage needs to communicate: Tesler suggests using features and benefits, price point, and short sentences in graphic visuals throughout the store. A shop needs to create its own interpretation of why a consumer should buy a specific product or brand of equipment or apparel and be able to briefly communicate that visually.
Signage needs to coordinate: This is a good place to establish a shop’s personality. Store graphics need to be coordinated so there’s a unity of branding and image that a shopper associates with that particular store. Don’t use signage solely to push sale items, says Tesler. Graphics and signage can do so much more for your business.
Use technology as a means of communication: Don’t just rely on the traditional, brief print signs and large-format graphics, says Tesler. Consider using computer screens or small kiosks to provide information from the vendor directly to the shopper.
Ken Nisch, president of JGA Services in Southfield, Mich., also emphasizes the importance of digital imaging for in-store graphic displays. “It’s all about creating an environment and experience — not just a 3-by-5 graphic,” he says. Pro shops and smaller tennis retailers should consider using computers and DVD players to “leverage the content in their environment” and create high-energy, dynamic graphics, Nisch says.
Try digital “slip covers”: Another use for digital imaging is “slip covering,” as Nisch calls it — creating covers for tables or other fixtures through digital imaging. Digitally enlarging and enhancing an image of a racquet, ball, or other tennis-related element and using it as a slip cover for a display “gives the store a new face without changing the architecture,” says Nisch. To make this economically feasible, see what a Kinko’s-type of store can do for you.
Put images on vinyl and board stock: To capture consumers’ attention, Dean Henkel, creative director of Innovative Media in Madison, Wis., suggests what he calls “grand-format imaging” — putting images on flat-board stock or more flexible vinyl overlays. Adhesive-backed vinyls — which can adhere to walls, floors, fixtures, windows, etc. — can be peeled off and changed frequently for a new look, at a relatively low cost.
Incorporate graphics into display space: Jeff Gill, managing principal of design firm MCG Architecture in Irvine, Calif., suggests incorporating graphics into the design of the display space. “You can use a repetitive band that wraps around the periphery of the space, typically above the merchandise,” Gill says. “It serves to highlight product and is very effective in small locations where the graphics band acts as a strong element due to its repetitive nature.” This kind of graphic is more stationary as it is generally silk-screened or painted on other types of surfaces.
In a larger store, larger-than-life graphics boards can be used as a backdrop, drawing attention to a particular part of the store and highlighting the product. This draws attention to the displays themselves and enhances the product’s appeal.
Use your imagination: You should be seeing the trend by now. You need to capture the shopper’s attention, and communicate your message. Nowadays, there are so many options available to customize your look and brand your store.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.
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