The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic offers some unique opportunities for sign-makers to become even more relevant to their POS applications customers.
All over Europe, COVID-19 lockdowns keep popping up left and right. It is a difficult situation for people and the economy. For printers, it means just another set-back in their struggle to try and re-build their businesses. Or is it? The ongoing Pandemic also offers some unique opportunities for sign-makers to become even more relevant to their POS applications customers.
Caption: This Burger Place is adverting its take-away service with a rather casual wide format poster. Printers can help restaurants and retailers do better. Photo Credit: S. Angerer
January 2021 is a month like no other, previous years this would be the time that eager shoppers would venture into the city centre to spend their hard-earned money. Today, shopping malls and high streets are almost empty with no customers in sight. Many windows are boarded up and shops are empty or decorated with “Sales” signs and posters for the shop´s online shop. Not surprisingly, most shop owners have not spent any money on new POS applications, and rightfully so since no shoppers mean no need for POS applications.
This is similar for upscale, expensive restaurants that usually would re-decorate often to garner interest from their high-profile customers, as well as event locations. For these reasons alone, printers and sign-makers are struggling. After 2008, the economy improved in most European countries, and shopping became a favourite past-time not only for young people. With social media on an unprecedented rise in people´s lives, a whole new dimension has been added to the once quite bleak visit at shopping malls and high streets. Shopping became an experience, a social event, and a unique opportunity to gather “likes” and reactions on various social media channels, just by spending money.
Caption: It looks as if this high street retailer has given up. Or has he? Professional sign-makers have to communicate with their customers. Printers need to address this with their POS applications customers. Photo Credit: Sonja Angerer
When Shopping Became an Experience
Brand owners became aware of this new shopping trend early on. High-end department stores would re-decorate their entire premises 6-10 times a year, while fast fashion chains would create a whole new world around their ever-changing collections almost every week. To understand what has been (temporarily) lost, it is important to be aware of what happened. After 2010, retail experienced a massive shift of advertising and marketing budget from traditional media to POS applications and shopfitting. This was done to compete with the growing trend of online and social shopping.
Along with this shopping experience, a wide range of casual and fine food, event and dining opportunities were established to keep shoppers and their friends satiated, entertained and happy. However, they were required to re-decorate much more often than a traditional pub. Because, after all, who would want to be caught on Instagram with the same photo background every week?
Pro-active printers with a focus on POS and shopfitting not only profit from this general development, but they also played a very active part in it. They partner with their customers for even more magnificent decorations, the glitziest signs and showrooms to put a queen´s palace to shame.
Caption: This “Click & Collect” signage looks anything but casual. Printers need to assist with professional tools for customer communication even in a Pandemic. Photo Credit: Sonja Angerer
A Partner in Tough Times
Being a partner for their customers might be what will save printers in the long run. It is important to approach retailers after the peak of the Pandemic is over, when shops and restaurants are allowed to open again. Currently, large crowds are likely to be so eager for any kind of “real” shopping and dining, that it is most likely that elaborate decoration may prove completely unnecessary.
However, printers with a strong connection to their retail partners can help them through today’s tough times, by ensuring that retailers and printers remain in business when COVID-19 has finally receded.
It is essential to focus on the present situation to understand where new business opportunities may be discovered.
Today´s high streets look desperate because many shop windows are covered in hand-written signs announcing new business hours and new opening dates. Since the rules continue to frequently change, this is understandable, but a sad picture still. Customers usually don´t feel inclined to buy from a shop that feels like it is on its last leg. However, retailers could benefit from a versatile, clean sign system to communicate rules and hours in a professional, attractive way.
Even when more people become immune to the virus, it will most likely still be necessary to keep a certain distance from others to prevent large crowds from gathering in shops and restaurants. With their versatile equipment, printers are uniquely destined to offer their retail customers floor graphics, partition walls and signage to ensure people feel safe and secure. Most of the existing anti-COVID-19 protection gear was quite hastily made in early 2020 for what was believed to be in use for a few weeks only. The gear is in urgent need of replacing. Shops that look like a disaster zone won´t attract any customers back into their shops.
While personalized and small run-length packaging has been a “thing” for years, it has never been mainstreamed. But, now it could help to make “Click & Collect” schemes present in several countries which would be more palatable for customers. If independent and local retailers want to have a fighting chance against multi-national online giants, they will have to eventually incorporate “Click & Collect” schemes. Printers now have the unique opportunity to help them achieve this.
Conclusion: Revival of the POS Must Start Now – Or Never
Caption: This is what “Click & Collect” can look like, when properly outfitted. Printers need to support their retail customers to get through the Pandemic. Photo Credit: Sonja Angerer
While many businesses are looking ahead to an uncertain future due to COVID-19, it is crucial that printers with a focus on POS focus more than ever on being a partner to their retail customers NOW. With creativity and courage, printers can play an important role in helping local and high-street retailers to remain relevant, secure, and appealing to their customers.
by Sonja Angerer