As one of the UK's premier stockists of sign trade supplies and retail displays, we have a wide range of customers, not just in the signage trade but estate and letting agents, electrical contractors and retailers. Most businesses go through periods of change, but 2020/21 has been life-changing for many.
The last 18 months have been some of the most challenging in living memory. The global pandemic has affected many lives, families and businesses. As we start to return to 'near normal', we sent out a survey to our customers to learn how the coronavirus has changed their business.
iSpi Trade would like to thank everyone who completed the online survey; your time and efforts are very much appreciated - remember to use your 5% discount you received if you left your email address.
The coronavirus and its impact on your business
The first question we asked was, has the pandemic positively or negatively impacted your business? 39% reported a negative impact on their business, with 31% reporting no adverse effect. What was encouraging was that the remaining 30% said the pandemic had a positive or very positive impact on their business.
iSpi Trade saw a shift in the type of products sold, with larger quantities of Panel Connectors, Signage Ceiling Grips and Perspex Desk Camps going out to a wide range of new and existing customers.
Every business had challenges during the pandemic, from ensuring social distancing within premises to managing staffing levels and furlough. Our survey highlighted some significant challenges for businesses:
- Reduction in corporate spend
- Decrease in productivity
- Employee morale
- Difficulty staying connected with customers
- Diversification and finding new customers
As exhibitions and conferences play a significant part in the turnover of many sign trade businesses, some reported this had a considerable impact on their trading figures and finding work to replace this sector was challenging, but many were able to find new markets.
Diversification and new opportunities
We didn't need a survey to tell us our customers were changing how they used our products, we could see it from our enquiries and sales charts. We were very encouraged that the survey reported 84% of customers found iSpi Trade products were a valuable resource to their business and that many had changed the way they used our sign trade supplies throughout the pandemic. Acrylic panel fixings were one of our best selling products as businesses adapted to life behind a screen.
Most responders stated their use of our signage and retail products would either stay the same or increase in the short to medium term, which is an encouraging sign for the industry.
Many of our customers provide a large format printing service, with floor stickers and social distancing signage used in almost every location. How many of us found ourselves stepping back to make sure we were maintaining that two-metre distance?
Sign trade supplies and product range
As a business, we always try to match our products to our customer's needs. We regularly analyse any orders we could not fulfil, either due to low stock levels or an item we don't carry. iSpi Trade adds new products when demand justifies, and if we can supply at low trade prices. We offer a Price Match Guarantee - which means if you find the same product for sale from a UK sign trade supplier, we will match the price.
There have been challenges during 2020 and 2021 with international shipping and, yes, the dreaded B-word, Brexit causing issues for many suppliers across the globe. We see encouraging signs from network that these issues are behind us, and from now on, our stock levels should meet demand.
Current in-demand products
As we pass the midpoint of 2021, we see trends in the sale of certain products. Our LED Window Displays are flying off the shelves with retail, bars and restaurants opening, and house sales buoyant. In 2020 we introduced A2 and A1 size LED Light Pockets at outstandingly low prices. These make a huge impact when matched with A4, and A3 LED window signage, whether you are displaying the latest hair fashions or selling a featured property, to giving customers relevant information or presenting a menu.
Our core sign trade product range remain popular, including Sign Fixings and Standoffs in a wide range of sizes and finishes. We still see high demand for Acrylic Clamps and Connector Products. Our range of Digital Displays also incorporate hand sanitiser stations and facial recognition temperature displays useful when discussing installing signage and other products for staff returning to the office with clients.
We hope you are encouraged by our survey findings, and we look forward to chatting with you soon. Remember, our online shop is the fastest way to order your sign trade supplies, but we are available to take your call to discuss any product enquiries.