Successful micro market operators must carefully consider every aspect of market location setup—from merchandising food and beverage products to creating a welcoming layout in the break room. Signage is an essential (yet sometimes overlooked) part of building a convenient and accessible micro market space, allowing operators to engage with customers in a meaningful, memorable way.
Fortunately, operators don’t need to have graphic design experience to create impactful digital and physical signage. Canva offers a free version of its intuitive design tool, enabling users to easily make ads, flyers and other signs. Most technology providers, in fact, offer promotional programs that are baked into their operating platform. With such programs, operators can customize customer messaging to influence food and beverage purchasing behavior and drive traffic back into micro markets.
Effective signage helps operators better communicate with customers and encourage repeat business and loyalty. Follow these tips to make your signs work harder and smarter.
1. Use the micro market kiosk to display special offers and promotions
Knowing that micro market operators manage many dynamic parts of their businesses, technology providers have made promotions administration as simple as possible. One key way operators can notify customers about promotions is through kiosk screens.
Micro market technology vendor 365 Retail Markets, for example, makes it possible for operators to create promotions through its ADM backend management platform and immediately deploy them everywhere through its 365 Connected Campus solution.
“In order for it to work in this industry, it has to be intuitive, familiar, and easy to scale—that’s what ADM and our promotions engine give our operators,” explains Ryan McWhirter, the company’s vice president of product management. “When you set up a promotion on ADM, it literally works on every device that we have. It makes the operators a lot more efficient to market these promotions across their client base.”
2. Offer customized promotions through a loyalty program
Once operators set up promotions through the micro market kiosk, they can increase customer engagement by reinforcing messaging to known users through a loyalty program. Among other things, operators can track which food and beverage products purchase and offer customized promotions through mobile apps, push messaging or email.
“In the beginning of micro markets, engagement was driven largely during grand openings and, maybe three years later, during a remodel,” McWhirter says. “Promotions have advanced that in recent years, turning our operators into true retailers by highlighting new products or driving frequency with loyalty. Now, 365 is bringing more to the table with true customer engagement via the 365Pay app. In many ways, it catapults our operators beyond what even Main Street retailers can do today.”
Some promotions are designed to build happy, loyal, repeat customers that feel appreciated. But Michael Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Yoke Payments, advises using promotions in a more influential way.
“You also want to use these tools to drive consumer behavior,” he says. “A redeemable coupon keeps someone from just coincidentally saving money on something they were going to buy anyway. When you push someone a deal that gets added to their wallet, it can actually change consumer behavior. You want to encourage people to buy, but [also] to buy more than what they would have otherwise.”
3. Place simple signage around the break room to connect with customers
Since starting in the vending business in 1994, Gary Joyner has owned, operated and sold three vending companies. In his experience, integrating physical signs is an easy step that can help increase sales. “Placing small tabletop signs on tables or countertops around the break room informs your customers about new items, products that are on sale, or other promotions,” he explains.
For example, to push morning coffee sales, operators could use a simple yet eye-catching breakfast promotion with the belVita Brew-mance activation kit. With this complimentary kit, micro market operators can display belVita samples in a countertop basket rack and promote the offer through a bright, welcoming header cart and counter cards.
Signage doesn’t have to be limited to information about products sold in the micro market. They can also serve as a reminder that there’s a human touch behind the unattended retail space.
“It could be as simple as stating, ‘We appreciate and thank you for your business,’” he adds. “A little bit of goodwill goes a long way.”
4. Use signage to gently remind customers about COVID-19 safety
Operators should also treat their signs as a vehicle to communicate how they’re ensuring a safe shopping experience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“In our clients’ locations, we have put procedures in place pertaining to sanitization of any equipment [and] have minimized client and field visits,” says Arthur Siller, vice president of operations and business development for Evergreen Refreshments. “But, at the same time, we are being as transparent as possible with signage relating to contactless payment systems and our sanitization schedules.”
McWhirter says 365 Retail Markets distributed a guide to its operator customers early in the pandemic, advising them how to properly clean the kiosk screens. He suggests using the kiosks to communicate even greater detail on safety procedures to the people who shop in the micro markets.
“We’re seeing some of the more savvy operators create an explanation of what they’re doing in the warehouse and in the micro market they’re servicing,” McWhirter explains. “I think that goes a long way [toward lessening] the anxiety of consumers who walk in and don’t know what’s happened before they got in there.”
By using kiosk screens or signage around the break room to explain the extent of care around COVID-19, operators can instill confidence that they are providing a safe experience in their micro markets.
Curious to learn more about managing micro markets in the post-COVID world? Find additional ideas here.