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The 4 Cs of Killer POS Copy

Have you ever walked into a shop and felt completely lost? A lack of signage, unclear messaging or an overwhelming amount of clutter could leave you wandering the aisles, fed-up and flustered, in search of that elusive ingredient on your shopping list (what aisle do they keep the breadcrumbs anyway?

Let’s be honest, you are more likely to remember a bad customer shopping experience than a good one, especially when tonight’s dinner is at stake. Whilst there’s no simple magic formula to writing navigational and POS copy, master these four skills and it could make all the difference to a customer’s day.

Say hello to great POS / Unsplash

Make it compelling

It all starts before they’ve even walked into the store. A well-placed external sign with a message that inspires or even a promotional offer is likely to entice customers. And that’s the first battle already won. 

Think about how many times you’ve looked at an A-board with a great advert. Our recent work with Tile Giant saw us create a suite of screens that did just that. Alright, we know this isn’t rocket science, but at the same time, it’s an easy win. You’ve got them through the door -  now it’s time to get them excited.

Fun but oh so functional / Whippet for Tile Giant

But sometimes compelling copy needs to dig deeper than an eye-catching offer or line. Let’s say you’ve got a deal on oranges - in most instances you will simply want to highlight the price and offer for the value-conscious customer. If it’s trying to sell an exclusive variety of oranges, only available in your store and from a specific grower, you’ll want to entice the customer with quality copy that justifies the price they’re paying. I mean, this is not just an orange…

Knowing when to use clear or clever copy (or ideally both at the same time) takes crafting. Messages need to be magnetic and resonate with the customer, focusing less on the product and more on the prospect of addressing their needs, hopes, fears, and dreams. Headlines that lead by original insight have a high impact, and intuitive directional copy can meet needs before they even arise.

Clear or clever copy… you can have your cake and eat it too / Whippet for M&S

Make it clear

If you’ve done all of the hard work but shoppers leave slightly bewildered or even lost, you’ve failed your mission. As the saying goes, clarity banishes confusion. Yes, you can have a great design, a well-thought-out touchpoint and a high footfall location but if your copy doesn’t convey the right message in the right way, it’s game over. 

Clarity is the single biggest thing that makes a customer's journey good or bad. Be clear on the purpose of your communication and always make sure it’s useful - if not, it's just fluff. 

We worked with Bensons for Beds to create a clear customer path with the right messaging at every touch point. As the communication path felt tired (see what we did there), we stripped things back to work out what exactly needed to be said and when. From overworked POS to a clear and simple structure, walking through a Bensons for Beds store replaces communication chaos and bed-buying confusion with calm clarity.

We never get tired creating standout POS / Whippet for Bensons for Beds

Make it concise

More often than not, simplicity is key, especially if someone’s in a rush. There’s no time to try and decrypt your message. Sure, the copy might be a modern-day masterpiece equivalent to Shakespeare, but does it tell a customer everything they need to know? 

In a retail environment, people scan they don’t read (if they even notice your POS at all). The ‘keep it short and sweet’ rule reigns! Approach it like you’re writing for a billboard on the motorway, where you might only catch a few words that will entice you to look up from your trolley. Keep it short, then shorten it again (without losing the integrity of the message of course). This careful balancing act is super important when it comes to shopping satisfaction. And yes, this is way WAY too long…

Close with a call to action

Now it’s time to bring it all together. You’ve got the messaging position right, you’ve made the right call on the format and you’ve nailed an enticing line. Never forget what we want our customers to actually do. So, what’s the call to action? 

Sometimes the CTA will be more subtle - using experiential verbs in phrases like 'snuggle down in our jumper’ entices you to reach out and touch it, try it and hopefully pop it in your trolley. If it’s a more functional message, then make the CTA clear. Examples like ‘Scan the QR code to apply/download’ clearly state what we’re asking customers to do. 

Our Look Behind the Label POS at M&S Clothing & Home in Stevenage took ordinary functional messages and made them enticing, encouraging customers to scan a QR code in order to see the sustainable story behind products they could buy. It’s fun, but functional with a clear CTA driving customer success.

Having a clear CTA will highlight exactly what you want customers to do / Whippet for M&S

This copy can easily sit with other pointers like directional cues, intuitive indicators and iconography that might support the wider messaging.

CTAs don't have to be boring - put the fun into functional! / Whippet for M&S

Let’s go shopping

Well, it’s about creating a clear customer experience. Yes, we can have fun with the copy; yes we can have exciting products; and yes we can spark some excitement in the journey. But, if all three of these things aren’t backed up with compelling, clear, concise communication with a strong call to action - they don’t work. We want to aid shoppers throughout their journey, but that doesn’t mean things have to be boring. 

Think as the customer thinks and you’ll understand why creating that clear navigational narrative is so important. And, if you get the formula right, you’ll create the perfect environment for customers: happy, educational and functional from the moment they walk in. Does anyone know where the bread aisle is?


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