It’s a new year and what better time to evaluate the best ways to keep your business as competitive as possible in 2021? Here we highlight three of the primary reasons successful retail businesses are evaluating and upgrading their décor and signage in 2021.

(Post) Pandemic Mindset

We are still in the throes of an international pandemic and consumer mindsets are geared toward safety unlike any time in history. Even as the dissemination of vaccines picks up, this mindset isn’t going away any time soon.

Consumers need to know their health and safety is being taken into consideration; this is the impetus for the introduction of antimicrobial wraps into the retail and restaurant environment. Antimicrobial wraps are thin, clear, and pliable which makes them hardly noticeable to our eyes or sense of touch.

As retailers, it is crucial the focus on safety is conveyed to consumers – for both their peace-of-mind and engendering future customer loyalty. The retailers achieving the optimal customer experience are those who are both proactively leveraging antimicrobial material on surfaces with high touch exposure and using signage to inform their customers of these measures.

Perhaps the best example of this in retail are grocery stores wrapping this antimicrobial material on their conveyor belts. This placement of antimicrobial material brings comfort to customers and employees alike, all while being highly effective and very affordable. Other businesses are using them on door handles, menus, and countertops.

As we look forward to what is hopefully a post-pandemic world, the public consciousness will remain cognizant of germs and viruses and the use of antimicrobial films is a highly effective way to assuage those concerns.

Aesthetic Competitiveness in a Social Media Fueled Word-of-Mouth World

Robust word of mouth advertising is the pinnacle for any company or brand. It’s a short-cut for our brains since we rely on the opinions of those who we perceive as being most similar to us. This is what makes it the single most trusted source of information in existence.

Humans are pattern-seeking animals; we are also highly social animals. This combination causes our brains to consistently seek out those people who we deem to be most similar to us – or most similar to what we want to become. Our brains tell us that these people must have preferences that are similar to our own. Once we identify these people, we give their opinions far more legitimacy than any other source of information.

What does this mean for retail?

As we know, social media has changed the way we exchange information. And for better or worse, we use social media as an extension of word-of-mouth advertising. That means we must cater our retail environment to foster the generation of as many positive social posts as possible.

How do we do this?

First, we must be honest with ourselves about the role style and aesthetics play in social media posts. Just like we seek out the opinions of those we perceive to be most similar to us, social media users want to only make posts that will garner as much positive feedback for their personal brands as possible. That is the foundation of your opportunity. By creating a space that is aesthetically pleasing, you create an opportunity for your customers to use your physical space as a way to draw positive attention to themselves. It’s a symbiotic relationship. You provide them with an environment they want to broadcast to the world (or maybe just their 63 friends and family on Instagram) and in return, they provide you with the most trusted and impactful form of advertising in the world.

The Retail “Experiential” Revolution

This is not a newsflash, but the battle between retail and e-commerce for consumer attention has been trending toward e-commerce for quite some time. However, not all areas in the retail space are struggling; some are thriving.

The first place to look for success in brick and mortar is brands that are embracing “experiential retail.” These are businesses that don’t just sell items, they allow the consumer to immerse themselves as an active participant in the experience. A shining example of experiential retail is Memphis, TN-based Buff City Soap. Over the next few years, BCS is poised to open more than 500 new locations across the country. All while the giant in their industry, Bath and Body Works, has been closing locations across the country.

What is the secret to their success? They designed their stores from the ground up with a focus on experiential. Their décor is warm and inviting; it feels both familiar and new at the same time. BCS’s décor beckons for patrons to make social media posts from within their location, all without ever explicitly asking them to do so. Their commitment to the customer experience runs so deep that in some locations they have even installed “Scents on Tap” and have classes where customers get to create their own soaps with friends, family, and coworkers.

Custom décor and signage are at the core of what they are selling, an experience. If your retail location is focusing on incorporating and expanding your customers’ experience, the first place to start is your design, décor, and signage.