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Retail Signage Solutions

Retail signage is key to making the customer experience easy, but also exciting. Jo Golding looks at some recent examples of retail signage that wows and how you can get involved

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Louis Vuitton’s pop-up shop in Sydney was constructed using 3D printed supersized panels

Time for a makeover?

The high street has to bring something special to its customers these days to compete with online shopping. This represents a fantastic opportunity for sign-makers to produce spectacular signage that will make the retail experience worth dragging yourself away from your computer for.

Retail Design Expo, which took place at Olympia, London, from May 2nd to 3rd, is a fantastic showcase of the latest retail solutions. Many sign companies that often feature in the pages of Signlink exhibited at this year’s show such as Sign of the Times, CJ Retail Solutions, Contra Vision, Celloglas, Neschen, Signwaves, and Tecna UK.

For Perspex Distribution, it was the company’s first appearance at Retail Design Expo this year and Luke Martyn, marketing manager of Perspex Distribution, says the show proved to be a “great success” as it launched its new range of Perspex acrylic colours, Perspex Royals.

Perspex’s new metallic shimmer ‘Royals’ range appears to gradually change colour as the angle changes

He says: “The range offers a Royal Flush of six colours aiming to feed our customer’s imagination. With a luxury silk texture and metallic shimmer effect, the range emphasises our passion for pigment and focus on the latest colour trends. Its metallic shimmer creates an effect whereby the surface of the sheet appears to gradually change colour as the angle of view or illumination changes.

“Retailers and designers were clearly using the show to find new products to help them stand out and this new range instantly appealed to those looking for unique effects to liven up their signage, POS, and displays.”

Perspex’s stand also featured its full range of acrylic colours and effects, and in conversation with visitors, it was clear that there was a lot of interest in bespoke colours for illuminated projects.

Martyn continues: “Looking at the wider retail signage industry, we are responding to market demand by continuing to evolve our Perspex Illumination range with acrylic optimised for LED illumination. Our Spectrum LED range offers eleven colours and opal acrylic up to 30mm thick with diffuser properties formulated to eliminate hotspots and enable slimmer designs.

“We recently used Sign and Digital UK to demonstrate Perspex G-Lux, a newly developed cast acrylic sheet designed for optimised edge illumination, and its ability to create a light guide panel without the need to first engrave or print the sheet, making light sheet production quicker and easier. Ideal for shop window signs and displays. Not only is the sheet developed primarily for edge illuminations, but the sheet is available in four different grades, each tweaked for specific panel sizes.

“Our Sloan LED Prism range complements our Perspex acrylic range for shop signage with the recent addition of coloured modules and mini modules driving ever increasing usage and specification. Sloan LED Prism mini can be used in applications as shallow as 50mm.”

Beauty spot

We caught up with CJ Retail Solutions not long ago for our ‘Ahead of the Curve’ section of the magazine, speaking to its head of group marketing, Jane Ball. She told us that the company took home a gold award at the POPAI Awards for its work on Boots’ Beauty Emporium, a project she is particularly proud of.

CJ Retail Solutions implemented its all-in-one solution to provide Boots with a more streamlined process

“One project that stands out in particular is our recent work with leading high street retailer, Boots,” Ball says, adding: “Working across over 100 major stores nationwide to introduce its much-anticipated Christmas Beauty range, we implemented our all-in-one solution to provide the client with a more streamlined, efficient process. This included taking care of the crucial design stage, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance—overseeing every stretch of the project.
CJ Retail Solutions was involved in the design, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of Boots’ Christmas signage and displays

“I’m particularly proud of this because each team member worked effectively together over five months, showcasing their individual expertise to produce a stunning, fully compliant solution in time for the Christmas rush.”

Ball highlights the importance of a well designed and installed signage solution in the retail environment as it contributes to the success of the brand.

She explains: “By delivering, installing, and maintaining a brand’s display at maximum compliance level, we are ensuring that the consumer receives the very best possible experience from that brand. A poorly designed and installed solution can often lead to damaged and missing products, resulting in loss of profitability. Naturally, if products are not there, hidden or even damaged, a shopper simply will not buy.

A poorly designed and installed solution can often lead to damaged and missing products, resulting in loss of profitability

“We aim to maintain our client’s brand image, drive forward sales, and ultimately, keep them coming back time and time again with our uniquely-designed concept solutions and organised POS installations. Our real-time reporting technologies also give clients the freedom to oversee the whole process throughout.”

Pop-up profits

When you think about the amount of competition clothing brands face, whether it is high street names like Topshop and Zara, or designer brands like Chanel and Dior, standing out from the crowd in retail is crucial. Louis Vuitton recently impressed in Sydney with, what is believed to be, the world’s first 3D printed pop-up retail store.

The store was open for a month in Westfield shopping centre, Sydney. It consisted of a 9m wide, 10m long, and 2.7m high structure, and was produced on the Massivit 1800 3D printer in just 18 days by Australian large-format 3D printing house, Omus.

Omus was the first in the country to install a Massivit 1800 printer and uses it for bespoke large-format 3D printed applications in retail, staging, events, and architectural design sectors.

Omus used the Massivit 1800 3D printer to 3D print supersized panels for a pop-up shop

“Our customers are always seeking ways to push the boundaries and create promotions with stopping-power,” Grosso explains, adding: “Our Massivit 1800 3D printer is fundamental to achieving this. From a production perspective, the very nature of building from the ground up not only enables us to exactly replicate our customer’s complex designs, regardless of the scale, it is also an efficient and cost-effective solution.

“Utilising the Massivit 1800’s large build-tray, we were able to 3D print supersized panels in record time. These large-scale parts allowed us to substantially accelerate our production time compared to traditional methods.”

Omus called on the help of a few other companies for the innovative project, working closely with design agency Gold Coast Displays and enlisting the support of another Massivit 3D customer, Composite Images, so two printers could run around the clock to finish the mammoth task.

Omus 3D printed several panels with thicker walls while inserting support ‘ribs’ to ensure they did not collapse. The pop-up shop was then covered in chrome mirror self-adhesive vinyl and adorned with Louis Vuitton-designed animal prints, reflecting the theme of the menswear on display within the shop.

Grosso says the designer brand was delighted with the result, concluding: “3D printing completely exceeded their expectations in terms of its wow-factor and ability to realise their original vision and radiate the opulence of the company’s new line.”

Under control

So, we have looked at retail design installation specialists and 3D printing companies, what about the software working tirelessly behind the scenes to make retail signage solutions as efficiently as possible?

SAi’s software solution, Flexi, is certainly a popular choice, with no less than 75 percent of sign and print shops in North America using the software. The company sells the software in two different ways, as standalone software that you can buy for between £1,500 and £3,295, and on a subscription basis for £50 a month, which still includes every single feature and capability offered.

SAi’s Flexi software can be used to easily design display and signage concepts from scratch, with a focus on enabling sign-makers to produce bespoke systems with the same confidence as specifying off-the-shelf products

Dean Derhak, product director at SAi, tells me there are three components to the software: “One is that it has a full-blown design package that makes it very easy for sign or print shops to design signage from scratch. It’s much easier than Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator and it’s been designed from the ground up for the sign market.

“The second component we have is a RIP software. We have a RIP package that drives just about every wide-format printer and cutter you could imagine. The third component we have is a cloud system for the licensing and a whole bunch of cloud tools. The software installs on a PC, like normal, but it also has a window with cloud tools such as job archiving, web-based artwork approval, and two companion mobile apps.”

Flexi is most well known for its print and cut applications and Derhak explains how while its competitors have a separate print workflow and cut workflow, Flexi’s print cut workflow is integrated into one.

“The applications possible include labels and stickers—a lot of print and sign shops do stickers. We make it insanely easy to, for example, add a contour path, a kiss cut or a perf cut onto a design. As we have a design tool, we also have step and repeat variable data. If you are doing a lot of name tags or parking stickers for permits, we have software that automatically prints barcodes and names.”

Unique offering

Derhak highlights how SAi is unique in what it offers to sign and print shops. He explains: “We’re the only ones that offer a RIP software on subscription. We’re the only ones that have cloud-based tools that come with it. The artwork approval tool, just in itself, can shave days off getting jobs approved to a print or sign shop so it gives them a competitive advantage, giving them tools that just don’t exist anywhere else in the market.

“We’re the only ones that have companion mobile apps. So, there are a lot of unique things that we do that make us very popular in the sign and print market. Our software was designed from scratch to get a sign or print shop employee up and running very quickly without a lot of training or no training.”

Have a flatbed cutter? SAi’s Display Genie allows print shops that have a flatbed cutter and printer to design and cut out boxes or POP displays. “Display Genie is a fantastic product, it makes it insanely easy to select and design a custom box and you can change the dimensions very easily,” says Derhak.

O Factoid: SAi has an active install base of 40,000+ in the US and 100,000+ worldwide for its software. O

SAi is also piloting the re-launched Sign.com currently in the US and will bring it to the UK later this year. He explains: “The consumer buying public goes to Sign.com to buy signage then we route that to local sign shops with Flexi software registered to the Sign.com network. This can bring sign shops new customers and additional revenue.”

Having a practical and aesthetically pleasing retail signage solution ensures customers have the best experience possible, and the brand does not lose out on any profit that could be lost through shoddy, uninformative displays. Brands are also turning to forward-thinking technology like 3D printing to engage customers and give them a unique experience. On top of this, software is now available that makes it so easy and affordable to start making signage, making it an exciting area of the market to get involved with as a sign-maker.

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