Creating an excellent first impression is vital in any industry – even more so in retail.
Although access to goods and services remains crucial today, statistics show that mall patronage is declining. Studies reveal that this is because of unsatisfactory experiences, look-alike shopping malls, and issues in wayfinding.
This article discusses the importance of wayfinding in shopping malls and the different factors that affect the quality of wayfinding in retail establishments.
Why is Wayfinding Important for Malls?
Based on a comparative study assessing the consumers’ desires, needs, and experiences in shopping malls, wayfinding is considered “one of the most irritating aspects” in shopping. As a result, it negatively affects people’s attitude toward the establishment and reduces the likelihood of returning customers.
High-quality mall signage design and wayfinding systems have been proven to be an effective strategy for bringing in more foot traffic while giving visitors a positive experience. That is, of course, if it is performed correctly.
Unfortunately, many establishments neglect this, leaving visitors, and potential customers overstimulated and even confused.
Remember that retail wayfinding is a complex process that requires skill, experience, and expertise to implement. It takes into account the many aspects of the retail environment, not only in the visual merchandise but also in product displays and customer experience design.
What Makes a Good Wayfinding System?
Because of how much wayfinding affects the entire shopping experience, shopping malls and other retail establishments need to make sure that they use it correctly. Integrating wayfinding with related technologies such as mall footfall counting technology and visitor tracking sensors can further maximize the benefits of this solution.
Want to know what makes a good wayfinding system? Here are five things it needs to achieve to be considered as one:
1. Satisfies consumer needs
An effective wayfinding system is designed to satisfy customer needs. After all, it is meant to create a worthwhile visit that will make people want to return to the establishment.
To achieve successful manipulation of the space for a positive experience for guests, you need to conduct an analysis of how customers behave in the retail setting. This will guide the wayfinding design and determine the elements that will gratify what the target market needs.
Based on the above mentioned research, customers prefer a place that can offer them the most satisfaction and value, on top of the merchandise they acquire. Most consumers put more weight on the atmosphere than the actual product or service they get when making purchase decisions.
Therefore, you need to define what you need to get from wayfinding in the customer journey to create the correct setup. Is it to help customers locate products and understand the retail space? Or perhaps it is to ensure brand consistency for both online and physical stores?
Understanding how customers use the wayfinding tools will help shopping malls create a viable strategy for a much better shopping experience.
2. Promotes the brand
Malls and retail companies also need to take into account their brand strategies when designing a wayfinding system.
Remember that an excellent mall signage design significantly impacts how people see the establishment, which is precisely what a brand is for. After all, a glance at the logos and other elements linked to a well-known brand is more than enough for people to recognize the brands they know and love.
Images can communicate a message better than words. They help brands stand out even without spending years as a household name.
If you want your business to benefit from this, you need to make sure your mall wayfinding design is consistent with your branding.
3. Incorporates essential design elements
There are only a few essential design elements needed in a top-notch wayfinding system, but each one should be present and optimized to get the desired results. This includes:
- User-friendly wayfinding language
- Big and clear fonts and icon
- Well-placed lighting
While these are just the basic elements, all three are crucial in ensuring the efficacy of a signage and wayfinding system.
For instance, user-friendly language ensures that the signage system relays a clear message to the guests. This means that your wayfinding design should only include essential information laid out in the simplest manner.
Besides that, you also need a decently sized font and icon to catch people’s attention as they pass by. These also help guests find where they are on the premises quickly, allowing them to navigate even a shopping mall as big as Yas Mall easily. This is also why you need to prioritize clarity when choosing signage font.
Finally, the lighting makes sure that the other elements in the signage and wayfinding system can be read and seen, both day and night.
4. Makes navigation easy
A wayfinding system needs to incorporate components that make navigation significantly easier. This can be achieved by adding intuitive tools that everyone can learn to use.
When selecting navigation technologies like wayfinding apps or kiosks, make sure that your consumers can easily utilize it without considerable effort. Otherwise, these will be inefficient and might even discourage customers from using them in the future.
- Kiosks – These offer a graphic approach to store navigation and must be placed where most customers find themselves needing help.
- Wayfinding apps – Since these can be downloaded to consumers’ mobile devices, wayfinding apps provide flexibility of assistance not only in in-store navigation but also in their shopping.
5. Uses the latest design and technology trends
Old-school fonts, colors, images, and other graphic elements reflect the age of the establishment. While this is great for capitalizing on nostalgia, even the biggest brands have adapted the latest design trends to stay ahead of the competition, one way or another.
Generally, you’ll want an atmosphere that is up-to-date and can attract not only old customers but also new ones. This means you should also make it a point to attract millennial customers with trendy wayfinding and signage designs.
Today, these trends include 3D graphics and Augmented Reality (AR) solutions. Both incorporate brand design and functionality to establish a more engaging shopping experience for customers.
Whether you use 3D virtual showrooms, AR fitting rooms, and near field communication (NFC), you improve your brand’s inclusivity while personalizing customers’ points of interest.
Wayfinding Made Easy
Navigating a huge shopping mall – especially new ones – can lead to a rollercoaster of emotions in consumers. If you want to leave only the good ones in their memory, make sure that your establishment is easy to explore with an expertly designed wayfinding system.