How To Visual Merchandise And Create Killer Retail Display Windows

By Bob Phibbs

how to visual merchandise retail windowsVisual Merchandising is something many retailers feel challenged by.

What to put in the store window? What to put with it? How much to put in the window?

These are great questions to ask yourself, after all, your window is your brand.

It's a physical elevator speech of why a customer should walk in your doors.

While there are similarities to visually merchandising your in-store displays, store windows seem to be the bastard children of most retailers.

Forgotten, alone, filled with odds and ends...and littered with dead flies.

Yet proper retail merchandising techniques make your windows a destination on your Main Street, in your shopping mall, in your town.

And new digital services like FOMO storefront let's retailers add a smartscreen to their store window display so shoppers can actually purchase from the window - even when closed. A real boon in high-traffic retail locations.

I interviewed Beth Hnatio-Pumphrey with EJP Studios about how she uses these techniques to create award-winning - and selling - windows in Frederick, MD. She told me, "You can have a lot of fun with a small amount of merchandise. You can use brightly colored props to draw people towards your window. I always think of it as drawing mosquitoes to the light...if it is bright, then customers will be intrigued."

You can watch her interview here.

Discover how to craft a retail merchandising plan with this comprehensive primer

18 Tips To Visual Merchandise Your Brick And Mortar Store Windows:

  • Plan one month in advance. A killer retail window display takes time to create and for display ideas to come to you.
  • Create a theme. Whether it is season, color, a theme helps unify and speak to your target audience.
  • Put in a setting. A beach, a bedroom, a picnic or other setting helps engage the viewers' imagination.
  • Choose props to frame your display. A few select pieces you buy or make along with your window dressing helps draw attention.
  • Only a few key products to show off. A window is for the items that might not sell as easily on a shelf as others so make sure to give them space.
  • Find one focal piece that "pops" - probably a higher price point. That means it is colorful or has a bold pattern to again attract interest.
  • Have multiple layers of height. Just like a good display, you want the customer to discover various items in your killer window.
  • Keep your display at eye level for passersby. View your window display at all angles including from a passing car.
  • Design so they can look into your store. Don't block off the entire view from your display window into your store because people attract people.
  • Limit your palette. Just like too many patterns on a person is distracting so are too many colors in your window. Focus.
  • Use at least three colors. While an all white window might seem chic to you, it won't draw interest like adding a bit of red and black to your window display design.
  • Including faces of customers. Accompanying their testimonials, seeing your items in their hands, any way you can add interest with actual customers is a plus.
  • Feature customer wants. Your higher ticket items that might not sell as quickly garner more interest than what customers need.
  • Clean it. Thoroughly clean the inside, outside and floor of your display windows prior to installation
  • Light it like it's a chrome bumper on a classic car. Lighting makes your products pop and draw interest.
  • Avoid holidays in the middle of the month. Unless it's month long, your windows can be outdated and make you look out of touch. If you will change them the day after, OK.
  • Don't overfill. Your windows are not your stockroom. Use them to highlight your best, not as an end cap.
  • Change monthly. Just like when you are merchandising displays, they have a shelf life. Keep storefront window displays changed to keep customers (and yourself) engaged.

Two more points to avoid...

  • Avoid SALE! SALE! SALE! SALE! "Nuff said.
  • Remember you don't want your sidewalk to be dirty, your planters filled with dead (or dying) plants or other garbage in front of the display windows you've spent so much time assembling.

See also, How To Visually Merchandise Your Holiday Store Windows

One more thing...

If your storefront display is looking a bit tired, if the merchandise is not at eye level, and the visual merchandising choices seem random to potential customers, they will walk on to some other brand or retailer who intrigues them through their display design.

When you use these visual merchandising points to create retail display windows for your shop, you'll sell more and entice potential customers to come in and explore all you have to offer.

For more about how to create a great retail business, join me on Facebook. 

My online retail training program has a whole course on merchandising. You can find more about how to purchase it below. 

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