Turning browsers into buyers with POP and wayfinding signage

24 March 2022

For almost 25 years, Still Creek Press has
provided printing services to the metro
Vancouver area from its facility in Burnaby, B.C. Photos courtesy Still Creek
Press

By Ginny Mumm

As all retailers know, reaching consumers with clear and effective signage while they are navigating retail settings is a critical sales tool. As any sign professional will tell you, “clear and effective” is the hard part. However, research has shown point-of-purchase (POP) signs and wayfinding signage that advertises specific items and shows where to find them, can be critical to influencing buying decisions. 

In fact, a recent Sign Media Canada article[1] quoted a survey by Inmar Intelligence that revealed 69 per cent of shoppers who saw an in-store advertisement browsed for the featured product, and more than 60 per cent of those respondents purchased it.

To learn more about what makes POP and wayfinding signage so powerful, we spoke with Bruce Lee, manager of digital and wide-format printing at Still Creek Press in Burnaby, B.C. Founded almost 35 years ago, Still Creek Press offers a full range of printing services, including digital, offset, web offset, large-format, bindery and finishing, fulfillment, envelope manufacturing, and printing, as well as variable data printing.

What brought you to Still Creek Press?

Bruce Lee (BL): I have had extensive experience in the printing industry, starting as a bindery worker years ago. I’ve worked on small-format, reprographics, and wide-format. I joined Still Creek in the wide-format department in 2015, and I am now managing the department.

I must say, with all the things I have done in my career, I am finally happy with where I am and love what I am doing.  

How big is your company?

BL: Still Creek Press has around 50 full-time employees and about 10 part-timers who come on during the summer season. In addition, each summer, we take on several interns from our local college, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), which has a wide-format program. The students rotate through the shop to get a feel for what each job is like.

We have four employees in our digital and wide-format division, including myself. Everyone has been cross-trained in running all the machines – from the flatbed to the roll-to-roll printers, laminators, cutters, and hand finishing. We share knowledge and skills so that if one of us gets sick or is away on vacation, the others can fill in without a hitch. This way, we can guarantee our clients always receive the same high level of service and quality. 

Clear, effective graphics are critical for helping  customers find specific sections of the store, especially while they are on the move.

What equipment do you have in the digital and wide-format division?

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BL: We currently have three generations of Roland DG printers, including a new 64-inch TrueVIS VF2-640 wide-format printer and two SOLJET printer/cutters, as well as the CAMM-1 GR-640 cutter. Since we launched the division, we have always relied on these machines, and we have been very pleased with their production quality and capabilities. We also have a Flora UV flatbed 1219-m x 2438-m (4-ft x 8-ft) printer to print on rigid materials.

Is the digital and wide-format division of the company growing? 

BL: We have grown steadily since I joined Still Creek Press, adding both equipment and staff. We started off with a Roland DG LEJ-640 UV hybrid printer and a SOLJET printer/cutter in a little room. Fast-forward 10 years, and we have increased our floor space three times and have added three more machines. We are looking to add another Roland DG printer down the road. 

How important is colour management in developing POP and wayfinding signage?

BL: We do a lot of work for restaurants and retail outlets. For these clients and others it’simperative that the printed materials we create have the correct brand and artwork colours, whether they are printed on our flatbed, roll-to-roll, digital, or offset presses. Colour management is key, and every substrate and machine we use is ICC profiled to ensure we print the correct colours.

For example, we have a restaurant client that runs a burger special every quarter. Their signage for an upcoming special consists of wall, window, POP, and stand-up easel signs. This job involves various substrates, and we need to ensure the colours stay the same on each one. Since we profile all our materials when we add them to our inventory, we can ensure consistent colour across all the pieces of these quarterly campaigns.

Still Creek Press cross trains its employees to ensure the highest quality standards on every job.

POP signs like these help Fatburger alert its customers to seasonal specials

What types of POP and wayfinding signage are clients generally asking for?

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BL: We have produced window, wall, and floor graphics, POP signage, displays, banners, decals, wayfinding signage, and more. Obviously, some stores do not have the same square footage as others, so windows and wall space can become key in displaying their messages.

During COVID, many of our clients had to adapt the way they displayed POP and wayfinding signage. Suddenly, they needed signage in new locations, including on surfaces like wooden tables, drywall, glass, vinyl seats, concrete, and asphalt. This meant we had to seek out materials (vinyls and rigid substrates) that could be used for multiple functions.

What are you aiming for in creating POP or wayfinding signage?

B.L. As with all signage, colour management is crucial to maintaining clients’ branding and corporate identity. One of our client’s corporate colours happens to be a certain green, which is one of the hardest colours to print. Fortunately, our Roland DG TrueVIS VG2-640 has an expanded colour gamut that makes hitting specific greens much easier.

Colour is also the factor that can harmonize the sign with the environment. Inversely, colour can make a sign’s message stand out and be noticed. Of course, any text or graphics on POP and wayfinding signage must be clear and to the point so it can be viewed and understood while pulling into a parking lot or walking through a store.

When we are asked to design signage (rather than printing artwork provided to us by the client), our design team works closely with our production team to ensure the final product is up to our client’s standards. This means understanding what our production capabilities and limitations are, and what materials require special attention during the design process.

Still Creek Press uses careful colour management to produce consistent colours across all its printers and presses.

In addition to the elements of colour and textual clarity, are there any other considerations in developing retail signage that can help turn browsers into buyers?

BL: This is something we are always looking into. These days, people often have their heads down, buried in their phones. We try to take a practical approach to this challenge. How can we utilize floor graphics to catch their attention? Or wall murals? Sure, everyone does it… but how can we make our graphics stand out from the others? We find it’s a balance between eye-catching design and colour contrasts, clear and concise messaging, and well thought-out, accessible placement of every sign that plays the largest role in converting browsers to buyers.

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Do you have retail/wayfinding clients for whom you develop seasonal signage?
BL:
We provide seasonal signage for our restaurant clients and others. When we know seasonal signage projects are coming, we can plan our purchases and bulk buy our materials. We use any cost savings to offer our clients more competitive pricing. In this time of COVID, with material costs going up by 10 to 20 per cent, every little bit helps.

Communicating with our client to anticipate these seasonal jobs also helps with staffing as we can better predict our busy periods. Having the proper staffing alleviates the need for overtime and lowers the risk of employee burn-out.

The wide-format production area at Still Creek Press is anchored by three Roland DG printers, including the new TrueVIS VF2-640 64-in. wide-format printer.

What advice would you have for other sign shops that are considering entering the retail and wayfinding signage market?

BL: Do not try to reinvent the wheel. Understand your clients’ needs, know your products, and know what works best for the application. Always keep an open conversation going with your suppliers—they are your lifeline.

In terms of purchasing equipment to enter this market, I would suggest shop owners start small, find versatile machines that can handle multiple applications, and maybe even buy a used machine with little mileage on it. Do not use cheap or low-end inks or materials because you will end up spending more money replacing an inferior product for your client. Ask other shops what machines they have and why they chose them, and stick to your budget.

As cliché as this may sound, it is a very small industry. Seek help from other shops when you need it. Do not burn bridges by irritating your clients because of unforeseen circumstances (like a machine going down). It is better to collaborate with other shop(s) than to compete. In the end, we all come out as winners and with happy clients.

How are things looking for your shop as you start off the year?

BL: We are in a busy time right now, with no signs of that stopping anytime soon. That said, I have a great team and high-quality equipment I can rely on. I love this work. It feels like “arts and crafts” every day.

Ginny Mumm is a freelance consultant for digital inkjet printer/cutter provider Roland DGA. For more information, visit www.rolanddga.com[2]. 

Endnotes:
  1. recent Sign Media Canada article: https://www.signmedia.ca/in-store-signage-vastly-alters-buying-decisions-survey/
  2. www.rolanddga.com: http://www.rolanddga.com

Source URL: https://www.signmedia.ca/turning-browsers-into-buyers-with-pop-and-wayfinding-signage/