Investing In Signage To Boost Profits

In your typical C-Store or small grocery store, every item on every shelf has an image and writing on it and the same goes for everything on your walls and windows. With all that visual “white noise” consumers report noticing virtually no signage in a typical c-store or small grocery (1). So if customers report being tuned-out to the white noise of signage, why is signage so incredibly critical? Signage – whether consciously or unconsciously – guides the customer inside, guides the purchase, and guides the experience.
Poor signage can cause real frustration for a customer. That moment of frustration will almost certainly not be reported to you because only about 4% of consumers actually report dissatisfaction. Of those who are dissatisfied, 91% will never come back (3). This means that if your confusing, inaccurate or unattractive signage results in a negative experience you likely won’t have a second chance.
Fortunately, it’s easy to improve your sign game. To start, just leave the building, take a breath, and try to view your store as a customer sees it, from start to finish. Look at all the signs and take a mental note (or an actual written note) of what you truly notice, and what you’d like better as a customer.

Infographic: Infographic:

1. Reduce and Focus - There are only so many things someone can read in a single 3-minute visit. So begin by removing signage and reducing the visual clutter. Try only 1 promotional sign up front for a month and take note of how purchase patterns changed. Try a different promotion the next month! Removing extraneous signs lets people focus. They aren’t going to buy every item you are selling. So guide them to a great option by having a very few, clear signs.
2. Be Current – Not only do your signs need to be current, remember that your promotions need to reflect your current business. Did you just add EBT or ATM services? You are now speaking to an expanded client base – let them hear you loud and clear! Put EBT signs on eligible products, place large, clear signs in the parking lot. Have well-lit signs out at night saying “ATM now available” to capture that new business. People can’t read your mind, so give them the best opportunity to really read your sign.
3. Add Value - According to a signage study commissioned by FedEx through Ketchum Global Research and Analytics in 2012, two thirds of consumers believe the quality of the sign reflects the quality of the products or services. Without realizing it, customers are making decisions about your store quality and the types of products they should buy there (2). Cluttered walls with random signs don’t instill confidence in the quality of your store. On the flip side, an attractive, orderly display shows that you care about your business and your customers.
It’s one thing to know signs are important, but you also need to know how to make them work for you. The 2013 study “ Breakthrough Signs for Convenience Stores,” focused on what people specifically notice and like in Convenience Store signage (4). This research provided a great breakdown of do’s and don’ts for your C-Store and Small Grocery signs:

Infographic: "Breakthrough Signs for Convenience Stores" Gernerl Mills Merchandising Study, 2013 Infographic: "Breakthrough Signs for Convenience Stores" Gernerl Mills Merchandising Study, 2013

Stop looking at your signs as white noise or a waste of time and money to update. Don’t overlook their potential. Signs matter, and they don’t have to be costly. In fact, remember that less is often more with signage. Research shows that customers notice a few well-placed, targeted promotions rather than a crowd of competing signs.

Signage drives your profits directly – “Buy now! 50% off today only!” and also indirectly – think “Restrooms” in clear, crisp letters. So use signs to your best advantage. Good signage will help you move product, promote your business, and educate your customers on all that they have access to, in your store and in their community.


  1. “C-store Signage Has Tough Time Grabbing Consumers' Attention” February 2014.
  2. FedEx commissioned a survey through Ketchum Global Research and Analytics in 2012 to see
  3. “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner
  1. “Breakthrough Signs for Convenience Stores” General Mills Merchandising Study, 2013
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