What is your store saying?

Your store’s exterior strongly influences customer visits.

The exterior of your store is one of the few permanent pieces of media your company has going for it. As such, that part of your store is an important business asset, and you need to look at it and reassess it to determine if it communicates the attributes that your business represents.
A few questions to ask yourself:

  • When was the exterior last renovated?
  • Is the logo looking old or dated?
  • Is the building itself a billboard that’s illuminated at night during the critical winter buying seasons?
  • Is the parking lot properly lit and consumer friendly?
  • Are there big dark patches that are scary to customers during the critical fall and winter buying seasons?

Customers often eat out in the evening during this time of the year, and it’s important to create an inviting look for your store. Your store’s windows convey that invitation to shop, an important part of the memorability of your brand, and it becomes part of their folk memory of places to shop for certain goods.
What is the architectural language of your exterior saying about the styles of merchandise you carry?

For example, some stores in Florida use traditional Spanish tiles and architecture on the exterior. Stucco and textured wood are often used, but communicate the idea of a very traditional old world store.

By creating new textured, wood surfaces and the use of black corrugated steel or other urban textures, the store can be more appealing to younger consumers.

Branding your store is not just about the logo, it includes the exterior lighting, materials, finishes, textures, and a welcoming well-lit entrance. The descriptors I use in signage also help to define the merchandise you sell. So, although a family name may be the predominate branding communication, words like furniture and mattresses are just as critical. They let the consumer know what products or services they can expect to find when they walk through your front doors.

Categories like “children’s furniture” and “motion furniture”are also critical and seldom appear on store exteriors. Is your store set back on the site and is there an opportunity to create these graphic outposts within the parking lot to take full advantage of digital signs and reinforce your store’s message? Something to put the shopper in the right frame of mind before she steps one foot inside?

You can enhance the apparent size of your store and garner attention (and brand awareness) by using billboards and electronic message boards in your parking lot or adjacent areas and by using uplighting focused on the crown of your store’s facade.

Even when customers are using the web to search for a product, when your name and brand are listed, the memory of the storefront will often trigger emotional responses that are favorable or unfavorable and will either encourage or dispel customers from visiting your store.

Many of the retailers we’ve worked with have experienced an increase of as much as 15 percent in sales based on communicating a message that’s relevant to today’s customers. We encourage you to take photographs of your store and discuss them with your staff and customers to see what lasting impressions you’re creating and whether they’re appropriate to your stated marketing objectives.

Does your store’s exterior project the updated, fashionable furniture found inside? HFA member Miller Waldrop wanted its old exterior (above) to match the clean, modern look inside. At left, the finished project.

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