On the Shelf: Tips to Boost Front-End Sales with Engaging Shelf Signs

July 9, 2016By Articles, Resources focused on Independent Pharmacy, Views


Written by and published in Elements magazine, June 15, 2016

The signs in your pharmacy’s front end may be just as—if not more—influential to making a sale as the products on the shelf.

“Signs sell products, period,” said Tom Boyer, director of national sales at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail.

If used correctly, shelf signs can convey your pharmacy’s brand, entice patients to learn more about the products you offer, and, ultimately, encourage shoppers to make a purchase.

A silent sales force

Signs help shoppers feel comfortable because they’re used to seeing them. “Just think about when you go to a convenience store, department store, automotive store or grocery store. They have signs galore,” Boyer said.

Shelf signs encourage people to shop and make impulse purchases, specifically if items are discounted or on promotion.

Shelf signs are also important educational tools for patients. Signs can enlighten them about the differences between products, and signs can even help less comfortable shoppers avoid embarrassment.

“When it comes to products that might be more embarrassing for the shopper to approach staff about, such as incontinence products, it can be very helpful for pharmacies to have signs that talk about the differences between products, so the shopper can really learn, without having to approach the pharmacist,” said Jen Johnston, senior marketing services account manager at Hamacher.

The right signs

From shelf talkers to aisle violators, you have a lot of options when it comes to shelf signs. When selecting signs, consistency and maintaining a proper blend are essential.

“You want to have a blend of signs versus always having just one type of sign or no signs at all,” Boyer said. “You should have four to six shelf talkers within every 4 feet of running space.” Within that 4 feet, make sure to mix up the types of signs, including “new item” signs or stickers, promotional signs, “our pharmacist recommends” signs, and store brand or private label signs.

There are multiple ways you can obtain shelf signs, including from manufacturers, wholesalers or making your own. Hamacher also provides pharmacies with signs when they join its merchandising and pricing program.

If you choose to make your own signs, pay attention to what you claim. “Even a retailer could possibly get in hot water if they put a health claim that isn’t backed up with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statement,” Johnston said.

Avoiding mistakes

When it comes to shelf signs, avoid common mistakes. Replace out-of-date signs, ensure your signs are placed in the proper locations and double check price points. And, be sure to make regular updates.

“If you do great one month with signs, and the next couple of months customers don’t see signs, or a change in signs, what’s their perception?” Boyer said.

If possible, delegate a staff member to be in charge of the front end. This can ensure your pharmacy’s shelf signs stay up-to-date.

If you want to evaluate the success of your shelf signs, you can simply ask customers what they think of your signs. Or, take it a step further and use your pharmacy’s point-of-sale (POS) system. “Some stores use their POS system as a glorified cash register,” Boyer said. “A POS system can do so much more. It can generate sales reports and analytical reports, and can go as far as breaking down sales by department or promotions.”

If you’re not using shelf signs, now might be the time to start. “Signs can be low-cost or no-cost, and really have a great return,” said Megan Moyer, senior marketing communications specialist at Hamacher. “Signs are non-invasive sales tools that can have a large impact.”

Learn more about signage by following Hamacher Resource Group’s At Shelf: Signs blog series.

Shelf Signs 101

Understanding the different types of shelf sign options for your front end can get confusing. Here’s a breakdown of common types.

Flat shelf signs
Flat shelf signs sit parallel to the shelf. They’re the least dynamic sign, but they’re cost-effective and often are enough to get the job done.

Aisle violators
Aisle violators are positioned perpendicular to the shelf. They “violate” the space in the aisle and command attention. They’re also known as aisle invaders, aisle breakers, shelf flags and aisle interrupters.

Folded shelf talkers
Folded shelf talkers are similar to flat shelf signs, but they adhere to the top of the shelf and fold over. They’re also known as folding shelf signs or shelf stack cards.

Channel strips
Channel strips are long, thin signs that click or slide into the channel underneath a product. These types of signs work well for a brand with many adjacent SKUs.

Aisle blades
Aisle blades are mounted perpendicular to the shelf like aisle violators, but are much larger and their length typically spans two or more shelves.

Source: Hamacher Resource Group