Creating a branded experience in your store can do more than boost sales. It helps build credibility to stand out against other retailers, and boosts confidence among consumers that want to know that they are buying from an established business that has invested not only in supporting themselves, but their associates as well. Having well-educated and confident sales associates is reflective of stores that have made product education a priority — to not only ensure that they can offer the best customer service but that they can be trusted to offer great and reliable assistance.
The resources and expenses of creating branded experiences has changed significantly over the last five years. Printing assets used to have incredibly high minimums, making it unrealistic and expensive for individual or smaller stores to do much of their own branding on various materials. Printing at smaller businesses usually required technical skill in creating and executing documents, which can be tricky if you do not have a graphics team to support you.
Over the last several years, marketing companies have been able to identify the gap between big business printing and small business restrictions. There are several online platforms that you can use that will help with design, printing and other details that may have caused obstacles in the past.
Companies like VistaPrint online give you a lot of options, with pre-made templates for design that do not require you to have your own graphics artist or team. Minimums are smaller and pricing is affordable for businesses of all sizes. They also give you a large range of materials to have printed, such as banners or large posters, which would have been pricey and harder to find before. Other online printing businesses to check out are: Uprinting.com, PrintPlace.com and GotPrint.com, to name a few. You do not need to go crazy — think about two signs that you could use the most on the sales floor, and the two items that you recommend to customers the most. Start there and you can add and adjust as you go to see what is most impactful for your store and customers. You may be tempted to use the store’s computer to make a sign whenever you need it. For example, if you need a quick sign for dressing rooms or the cash wrap area … check out the online resources that are available to help you design one. These types of details on store materials can enhance a customer’s perception of your business.
Establish a store culture that creates consistency in branding. All store signage should have the same logo, font and general “look.” Signage at the cash wrap should be minimal and not flooded with random flyers and posters. Each guest that checks out is given the exact same bags, tissue, inserts, etc. Exterior signage matches the inside for a connected experience. Product section signage is uniform across the store, creating a more organized and impactful experience. Floor ads are themed to other activities in the store with, you guessed it — coordinated signage. Having signs or posters made to match your floor set could cost as little as $20; it is so worth it for the long-term experience. Something to keep in mind is that it costs twice as much to gain a new customer as it does to keep a current one. One way of keeping current customers happy is to make their shopping experiences new and fresh. Having coordinated floor sets and sign changes will give the customer the trust of shopping at one of their favorite places, but it will feel like shopping in a new store each time. If you need help with this type of store activity or want help with it, manufacturers and distributors are so excited for this type of opportunity. I promise, please ask us!
When bringing new employees onboard, it’s important to have consistency and structure — so everyone gets the same training, and that consistency is seen when helping the customer as well. It is so important that these new associates and sales reps buy into the brand and the brand experience. Their onboarding, while having some serious moments, should also be fun and engaging. The experience you create for a new person will often be the experience they create for their customers. No one loves hours of paperwork or mundane HR training. Take this opportunity to show your new people why shopping with you is fun — why your store is different, and why consumers should choose you over your competitors. I go into certain stores that are so rule-driven that the shopping experience feels so autonomic. Aside from the regular comments when someone comes in such as, “How are you?” “Are you looking for anything particular?” “Let me know if you need anything,” create some new patterns and verbiage to incorporate into the shopping experience at some time. For example, what’s each customer’s favorite color? What type of phone do they have? Open-ended questions that are not the norm but lead to fun, sales-relevant conversations.
Start partnering with your distributors to gain more access to their materials. It is so hard for distributors to manage all the marketing materials they have on-hand, as well as what each manufacturer has available for them. Do not be shy! Ask your sales rep if they can reach out on your behalf to your favorite brands or top-selling brands and see what they have available. You will be surprised at all the signage and store materials available. Typically, if you do not see what you are looking for, it can be created for you.
At the end of the day, we are all doing what we can to make a difference in our business. The difference that makes it stand out compared to the competition and the difference that makes people choose to come back time and time again. As manufacturers, we support you trying to make the difference and want to help. Branding is one way to stand out and stand up for your business. To quote Thomas J. Watson, “Good design is good business.”