How To Visual Merchandise And Create Killer Retail Display Windows

display window

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Visual 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 through your doors.

While there are similarities to visually merchandising your in-store displays, store windows seem to be the bane 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, shopping mall, and town. 

I interviewed creative director Beth Hnatio-Pumphrey 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 toward 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.

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 a season or 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 and your window dressing help draw attention.
  • Only a few key products to show off. A window is for 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 attract interest.
  • Have multiple layers of height. 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 the entire view from your display window into your store because people attract people.
  • Limit your palette. Too many patterns on a person are distracting, and 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.
  • Include the faces of customers. Accompanying testimonials, seeing your items in their hands, and any other 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 customers' needs.
  • Clean it. Clean your display windows inside, outside, and floor thoroughly before 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 quickly become outdated or make you look out of touch if you change them the day after.
  • 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! Enough 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.

In Sum

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 a potential customer, they will walk on to some other brand or retailer who intrigues them through their display design.

Digital services let retailers add a smart screen to their store window display so shoppers can purchase from the window - even when closed. A real boon in high-traffic retail locations.

Using 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 significant 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.