Magazines Archives - 2008 March

POP & Signage Solutions - Technology ushers in a new era for signages in Singapore
Cover Story

In a fast-paced retail environment, a store’s signage or point-of-purchase (POP) systems can make or break the patronage, not to mention loyalty, of the more discerning customer. Jolene Klassen discusses how the technology that keeps retailers more engaged with shoppers is making science fiction a reality by way of POP and signage solutions.

Over the years, signage and POP (point-of-purchase) systems have developed into marketing
tools that help retailers in Singapore cement their brand images and identities, leading, in many instances, to successful brand recognition among consumers.

More than simple advertising gimmicks, these tools have indeed established themselves as the harbinger of retail prosperity in the country. In fact, a retail slowdown looks unlikely to take
place anytime soon — that is, if recent data from the Singapore Department of Statistics revealing this past January’s sales were 7.8% higher than last year’s is anything to go by.

Although Singaporeans need little or no encouragement to head for the shops and malls, there is no denying the impact of signage and POP displays on the retail environment. Signages have always been a way for retailers to reach out to their customers, informing them of promotions or happenings in the store, and acting as silent ‘salespersons’ to draw shoppers into the stores without being too brazen. Along with POP systems, they also help define the company’s image and brand. This not only enables the shopper to distinguish between various brands and products,
but also allows the retailer to establish brand loyalty among customers.

“Signage is the face of a company,” says Keith Lee, director of sales and marketing at Ultimate
Display System Pte Ltd, a local signage design company. “Therefore, it is key to a successful retail business,” he maintains. “With sophisticated consumers nowadays, the demand for a good and attractive sign becomes important,” says Lee, noting that the current trend is seeing retail signage going beyond being a mere shop sign. “Graphics and POP displays have been an important marketing and branding tool that contribute to success in a retail business,” he avers.

Roland Lim, marketing communications manager of Swee Cheng Management Pte Ltd, which owns The Heeren Shops mall, concurs, adding that retailers need to understand the importance
of signage to capture more attention from consumers. However, retailers still struggle with  traditional perceptions and regulations that challenge the growing signage use in the republic.
For instance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore restricts advertisement and elec-high pedestrian traffic, and shopping and activity hubs. URA also requires them to be consistent with the “character of the area”.

In addition, there are also guidelines setting the height at which signs should appear above walkways to relate directly to activities in the vicinity and yet not visible from areas in the city
where signage is not allowed.

Among other regulatory boards that oversee signage licensing and installation within the city area are the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA), Traffic Police Department,
Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Environmental Health Department (ENV).

Cost also remains a vital element in a retailer’s consideration to use signage, given that the effectiveness of a signage solution is difficult to monitor and quantify.

With “pricing a key factor, ... we don’t see much creativity in the retailer’s signage in Singapore,” Lee laments, unlike countries like Japan and South Korea where “signs are far more interesting”.
Yet, signage vendors in the citystate remain optimistic that solutions will start to catch on in the retail environment. New technologies are opening doors for retailers, bringing down costs and increasing the life span of various digital media solutions with the emergence of cost-efficient and versatile digital signage and POP systems.

A new report, entitled World Digital Signage Markets, by global consultancy group Frost & Sullivan, notes that the digital signage market worldwide can look forward to a turnover of US$1.1
billion within the next four years. Meanwhile, institutions such as the POPAI (Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute) and the ISMI (In-Store Marketing Institute) are beginning to universalise the standards of digital media technology, allowing the industry to look forward to newer, more advanced signage and POP solutions over the next decade.

For retailers to make the most of such systems, considering the hefty cost of implementation, Lim advises them to weigh the objective they intend to achieve with these. Steven Teo, creative director of Digimax Sign Engineering Pte Ltd, sister company of Ultimate Display System, notes that the technology in Singapore has brought new life to traditional signages by introducing flexibility and
durability, which are crucial attributes for static displays. The environment needs to be conducive,
Teo stresses, encouraging retailers not to be put off by the hurdles they face in the implementation process.

Observing that “much of the technology available [in Singapore] has already matured”, he believes it is “just a matter of application and of who will be the first to use it”.

Using the vacuum-forming technique and acrylic lightboxes, Digimax designs POP and signage  solutions for local and international retailers and F&B outlets, incorporating the LED (light-emitting diodes) technology into installations at McDonald’s, Koufu, Harvey Norman and Carrefour, among

William Tan, project manager of media360, a local signage-solutions provider, affirms that the market for signage in the city-state is evolving, albeit at a slower rate than in neighbouring countries. He believes the industry is gradually becoming more receptive to newer types of signage. Recently, media360 installed its LED video-display units at The Heeren Shops, located in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore’s prime shopping district. Its LED video displays are among
the newer systems on the scene. The 360° system uses LED technology to  provide optimal video quality that is both attractive and a novelty, and designed to turn heads.

Another ‘futuristic’ product by media360 is the Displax Interactive Window, promoted as revolutionary for its ability to transform any retailer’s shop window into an interactive display. The interactive window display unit, which looks much like a piece taken off the set of science-fiction blockbuster movie Minority Report, is not only able to advertise in-store promotions, but is said to be also capable of engaging the customer in ways limited only by the imagination, injecting innovation and vibrancy to the shopping environment .

Lim says that installing such interactive displays strategically throughout the mall is both a fun and informative way to show shoppers where the various tores are located. “I think its very exciting in the sense that, there [are] a lot of things that can be developed digitally [over] the years, as technology improves significantly,” Lim says.

However, the question is whether such solutions “will complement their business”, Lim points out, adding that durability and feasibility of the solutions also need to be weighed. Another upcoming technology that is expected to take on the world soon is cellular digital signage, an innovation
that allows the user to modify existing digital signage and displays by sending instructions via their mobile phone. Wireless data transfer takes on a whole new meaning, giving retailers the ability
to reach their target audience in providing them time-sensitive information. Clearly, rapidly-evolving technology is paving the way for the retail environment to progress by leaps and bounds, in stark contrast to the limitations of traditional signages seen in the industry in the past few decades. Furthermore, in answer to the industry’s clarion call for improved technology awareness and greater professionalism in approach, Lim is confident in today’s retail practitioners
in Singapore who are younger and more knowledgeable about the technologies available.

“As the younger generation moves with the times, digital technology is part and parcel of life now for the young and savvy shoppers, who” Lim is certain will “definitely enjoy a more digitalised environment”.


2008 March Stories:

POP & Signage Solutions - Technology ushers in a new era for signages in Singapore

Armani’s first travel-retail boutique opens in HK

Beijing Olympics boosting ad spend in China

L’Oreal to focus on men in Malaysia

Esprit looks to enter luxury market

Cartier appoints new regional manager

Competition outweighs customer needs in product launches

LG, GE in agreement to share patents for home appliances

Coty’s Rimmel goes to China

US gum-maker banks on Asia

Levi’s to close 36-year-old Manila plant

Deal with causes to cap shrinkage: Expert advises

Bond girl endorses Montblanc watch

New boardwalk to help boost economic growth in Sabah

Coming soon: MBO cineplexes across Malaysia

NRF 2008 – US retailers tackle green issues, grapple with looming recession

‘Go green’ gets big boost at annual convention

The Wal-Mart story: Making ‘Sustainability Sustainable

Store of the future

What do customers want from the shop floor?

Evolving business model: Sell solutions, not products

NRF Design Studio exchange: What makes for iconic identity?

Retail executives set new benchmarks in priorities for the year ahead

Interactivity with shoppers: Big trend

Who’s hot, what’s not on Wall Street’s list

NRF honours industry excellence

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