Retail Wayfinding Best Practices

Wayfinding signs have become the norm in retail spaces. They combine a variety of visual, tactile and audible elements to attract shoppers to particular areas of a store. As the name suggests, wayfinding signs help customers find the way to what they need. The aisle signs in a supermarket are typical examples of wayfinding signs, but their use isn’t limited to supermarkets and retail spaces. Any office space that needs to provide some type of direction to customers, or highlight a particular area in the space, needs wayfinding signs. Custom metal signage can be used to create wayfinding signs that truly stand out. Well-built and strategically placed wayfinding signs only serve their desired purpose, however, if the best practices outlined in this article are followed.

Do Your Research

Successful stores continuously assess the performance of the signs they use. They also try various approaches to attract customers. One strategy that can be used to determine the effectiveness of your wayfinding signs is to measure the increase in employee productivity. Employees should be spending less time directing customers and more time assisting customers in other ways (or doing other meaningful activities). This ultimately leads to an increased ROI. If you notice no significant change, something is wrong with your signs. Therefore, research is necessary to the profitability of the wayfinding signs you’ve created.  

Utilize Buyer Psychology

Your aim is to persuade buyers to make purchases by directing them to the right places.  Buyers sometimes unconsciously purchase items they never intended to purchase simply based on strategic planning of the store’s layout, display placement and use of signs. Feeding their subconscious with the right messages will compel them to spend more.

Pay Attention to Store Layout

Product displays should always be carefully planned so that they attract attention. Appropriate signage and placement play a major role in this. Think about the last time you walked into a store and saw a nicely dressed display promoting a new product or special promotion. Didn’t the way the display was set up arouse your curiosity? For a few minutes you probably even forgot what you entered the store to do because you were side-tracked by the intrigue of the display. Keep that image in your mind and attempt to replicate it in your own store.

Signs and displays can also have a powerful impact if they’re arranged in a hierarchy.  A hierarchical arrangement visually breaks the store into components that make it easier for customers to navigate.  Easier navigation adds a great boost to the customer experience.

Signs can also help you implement a store-in-store strategy. Think about the last time you walked into Macy’s and saw an entire section dedicated to popular brands such as Lark and Co. The store-in-store strategy allows brands to take over an entire section of a store with their own branding, fixtures and displays. This strategy is ideal for brands that sell well in your store.

Wayfinding signs also help with the consistency of branding in a store’s layout. The signs used in –store should mimic the image portrayed on websites, marketing materials and outdoor signs. Consistency improves a brand’s image in the eyes of consumers.

Legibility is Vital

Creative store planners can expertly place signs in corners without obscuring the intended message. It’s important to utilize as much of your store’s space as possible. The corner approach does this while maintaining the sign’s legibility.

As with outdoor signs, wayfinding signs should use a legible font, an appropriate scale, and the right contrast to their background. Stay away from the cursive scripts. They are gorgeous, but standard fonts such as Helvetica and Serif Fonts are best for signs because of their legibility.

Use High Quality Materials

Quality should be one of the first words that customers associate with your brand. It’s easy to pay little attention to the quality of your signs and focus completely on improving quality elsewhere. However, the best approach is to incorporate high quality signs in your brand’s overall standard of quality.

Consider Modularity

Modularity in this context refers to the ability to match store signs to the same material standards as fixtures. Digital signage is applicable here since these types of signs can be incorporated into entertainment fixtures such as televisions and laptops.

Dimensionality Adds Interest

Dimensionality merges elements of exterior signs with wayfinding signs. These elements include: channel letters, projecting signs and awnings. The idea is to give that area of the store an urban or eclectic vibe.

Illumination Never Gets Stale

There is something about a well-lit sign that just makes it more attractive. LED technology has made it highly possible to create the right glow on interior signs. One of the most recent interior sign lighting trends has been the use of cove and soffit lighting.

Retail Disciplines and Wayfinding Signs

-Signs alone do not create effective wayfinding in retail environments. Successful store navigation requires bringing together architecture and display to create a complete environment that both directs and informs.



Incorporate Wayfinding Signs in Visual Merchandising

Macro level visual merchandising signs typically identify important sections of a store. They are fixed and not easy to change. Checkout visual merchandising signs, on the other hand, are flexible and can be changed to suit the environment. Effective management of macro level and checkout signs is often used as an indication of wayfinding sign excellence. Top companies expertly allow both types of signs to work seamlessly together.


 Several factors affect a customer’s overall in-store experience. Effective use of wayfinding signs is one such factor. Some entrepreneurs may view wayfinding signs as frivolous investments, but play a crucial role in helping customers enjoy the in-store experience. ShieldCo can create custom metal indoor wayfinding signs that add a consistent and high quality feel to your store or office.

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