The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Graphic Signage

In Store Graphic_1

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is Graphic Signage.

Graphic signage, as a form of store to customer communication, has existed for as long as there have been shops. There are examples of signs in shops and trading houses preserved in the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum – some in paint ed form casually painted onto shutters and panelling and obviously tempo rary, ot hers permanently carved into the shop stone work. These signs suggest that Roman shopkeepers seldom used their names to identify their shop – a butcher, for example, might identify his trade by painting a sheep. This form of identity was a widespread practice in Europe until the 17th century when shopkeepers began to put their names on the shop fascia – thus began the process of brand identity and reputation. Today store communications fall into three categories: Information (way finding, price, weight, provenance, product content and so forth); Promotion (sale, special offer, and more) and Emotional and Positional. The graphics in this latter category may not be product specific, but might be images of contented cows inferring ethical farming, or others conveying images of traditional craftsmanship. But in all cases, graphics serve to promote a brand’s position and reputation. “Brand is but Trust spelt differently” and in the modern shopping context, whether it is digital on the shop screen, or in the physical shopping space, store communications in whatever form, are increasing. But they are also subject to scrutiny for accuracy and truthfulness and as such, play a critical role in demonstrating the brand’s integrity.

Contribution to Retail History

Graphic signage in stores helps to create the tonal atmosphere that reflects the store’s positioning. Used to inform or promote, their distinctive designs brought new rewards for the retailers.

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The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Royal Exchange

Royal Exhange

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange in London was established in 1565 by Thomas Gresham to serve as a centre for financial trading, as well as, commerce. The Royal Exchange was a forerunner to the modern shopping mall as Gresham had the vision to dedicate several floors of the structure to retail uses and collect rent from tenants who occupied the space. Thomas Gresham was a wealthy businessman who set out to change the crude financial trading practices that were common in London during the 16th century. Gresham had served as a royal agent for both King Edward VI and Queen Mary and spent time at the bourse in the Belgian city of Antwerp and wanted to bring a similar concept to London. He invested a large portion of his personal wealth to construct a bourse on land provided by the city of London between Cornhill and Threadneedle Street. Queen Elizabeth I officially opened the Royal Exchange in 1571 and the timing could not have been better for several reasons. London’s population was expanding rapidly and the nation’s ascension as a global power had created newfound wealth among residents who were eager to purchase merchandise from retailers who occupied the upper floors of the Royal Exchange. In addition, the Royal Exchange brought London’s financial trading activities up to the standards of continental Europe at a pivotal moment. The completion of the facility five years prior to the Spanish sacking of Antwerp set London on a course to become the financial capital of Europe.The original structure stood for nearly 100 years before it was destroyed by fire in 1666. A rebuilt structure that opened three years later was again destroyed by fire in 1838. The third Royal Exchange building, which still stands today, was reopened in 1844. The financial firms left the Royal Exchange in 1939 and it became a purely retail establishment.

Contribution to Retail History

The Royal Exchange is considered by many to be the world’s first shopping mall. Founder Thomas Gresham established the principle of combining multiple shopkeepers under a single roof to offer a broad range of merchandise categories to create a compelling retail destination.

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The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Ledger

History of Retail  - The Ledger

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Ledger

Originally a ledger was the name for a service boo k kept in on e place in a church – “The curates should provide a boo k of the Bible in English, of the largest volume, to be a ledger in the same church for the parishioners to read on .” The actual system of reconciling balances was invented by the famous and successful 15th century Italian banking family: the Medici. They developed the double entry system of tracking credits and debits in a ledger. Their Medici currency was once the most used in Europe, and the principles of their ledger system are still in use today – even if many are now computerised. If you want to total up your financial transactions for the day, week or month, no doubt you will have some kind of ledger to record those ‘takings’ in. On the page in front of you the debits and credits are shown in different columns and there’s a balance when you begin and one when you end. The golden rule is that every debit recorded must have a credit, so that in the grand total when you finish, the debits equal the credits.

Contribution to Retail History

Bookkeeping – or keeping the ledgers – was, and remains, fundamental to a retailer’s ability to track and balance goods in against goods out. The resulting financial metrics produce a clear gauge of how well the business is doing and can be used to evaluate the success of business strategies.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Signage

Signage and Chalkboard_RT

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is Signage

Early statistician Gregory King estimated that by the late 17th Century, England and Wales had about 40,000 shopkeepers. They hung signs to display the emblems of their trades and these became a common way for traders to communicate with their customers. When retail began to expand from outdoor markets to permanent premises, retailers (who often lived over the shop) also needed a sign to be able to communicate on e particularly essential piece of information – Open or Closed? In China, signs were originally used in restaurants, teahouses, drugstores, and then draperies, pawnshops, hotels and tobacconists. They were made of cloth, and later leather, bamboo, wood, aluminium, iron, copper and tin, and were hung in front of the doors showing the particular symbol of their trade. Interestingly, there are various taboos in the use of shop signs in China; signs are not ‘hung up’ but ‘invited in’ because gua (hang up) is thought to be unlucky. When a shop sign falls on the ground it is also thought to be a bad omen because the God of Wealth, held in awe by the Chinese, might not approve. In 1389, King Richard II of England, decreed that landlords must put signs outside their inns, so that inspectors could identify and visit them; there is a record from 1393 of a publican being prosecuted for not having a sign. In 1567 and 1577, France issued similar rules. When the signs became too large for safety reasons, in Paris in 1761 and in London around the same time, laws were introduced which dictated that signs had to be placed flat against a wall or removed. Today, retail signage is used to communicate a raft of different messages to consumers. Exterior signage attracts passing trade, while signage inside the retail environment is used for both navigational and promotional purposes. The tent card at the checkout, the (invariably) red and white posters and banners that trumpet ‘SALE’, the branded fascia running the width of the store front – each form of signage has a distinct role to play.

Contribution to Retail History

As well being informative, shop signage also provides a ‘canvas’ through which retailers can speak to their customers, promote and differentiate their brand, inside and outside their premises.

 

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

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