Decorating a store goes to the heart of what makes great retailing. During these times, it will be the deciding factor to WOW wary shoppers and increase impulse buying.
Various seasonal times and holidays can inspire retailers to create magic for their customers. The return of colored lights is anticipated by young and old for a reason: it calms, inspires, and makes us hopeful.
And boy, do we need to feel hopeful this coming holiday season!
Also, decorations go far beyond demonstrating a new skillet or an invitation-only event.
They pique a shopper’s curiosity to discover what is new.
Introducing new yet familiar elements to the shopping experience changes your entire store's energy and encourages impulse buying. We're anxious to find more semblance of normality and hope right now.
Christmas, in particular, offers the chance for your store to make a statement that wonder and magic lie behind your doors.
Dad could be a hero…
Mom could be a queen...
A brother who never got what he wanted for Christmas could buy his favorite gadget.
An aunt who lives thousands of miles away could purchase a thoughtful gift as a token of her love instead of buying a gift card at the local 7-11.
But if your store looks the same on December 10 as on September 10, that is less likely to happen.
One caveat before I continue: We aren’t talking about a big budget here.
While Saks and Tiffany’s can afford one-of-a-kind window displays and custom elements that customers can activate with their phones, decorating isn’t about technology...it is about creating a different shopping environment.
The more you decorate, the more energy and excitement you bring to passersby.
Go big, go early, and go to town. This is what I always recommend. This coming holiday season, I encourage you to string bright colored lights from building to building, across shop windows, and throughout your store.
One eye-catching way I decorated a rustic store was winding colored lights around dried grapevine to make it a visual wonderland overhead as you walked in and through the central aisle.
Well-decorated interiors and windows truly enchant us to come in and experience the feeling of the season and not just be witnesses to them in passing.
What does it take to prepare your store to wow a smartphone-obsessed, me-centric consumer these days?
Here are the four main elements of holiday retail store decoration:
1. Lights. When you add strings of lights, you add color, energy, and magic. One of the first things I did when I took over a store - and this was during the summer - was to ring the front windows with miniature white lights. It caught interest, it set us apart from stores on either side, and it brightened up the windows. I can't over-stress this point - the more lights throughout your shop, the better.
2. Colors of the season. Whether it is spring pastels or holiday reds and greens, seasonal colors are temporary. Yes, for a retailer, decorating does take a bit more work and planning as you can't leave autumn leaves through February. Still, it also aligns the shopping experience you offer with seasonal celebrations.
3. Props that are appropriate help tell a story. It is easy to think of decor for a national celebration - like a flag on Independence Day. While a giant Christmas tree or fragile ornaments might be too much of an undertaking, your props can be as simple as putting Santa hats on your mannequins. At the start of the baseball season, you could add gloves, bats, and balls to those same mannequins.
4. Signage that speaks to the season. So many merchants either avoid or forget well-conceived signs. But you need them, so during the holidays, over a mountain bike with a helmet, GoPro, and night gear, place a sign that says Dad, Be A Hero To Your Daughter. Around the wedding season, put a sign that says Forget The Tea Towels, Give ‘Em An Experience with a complete baking system and five at-home chef lessons, or around Mother’s Day, Make Up For That Broken Window When You Were 8 for any premium product. You get the idea.
Here are great examples of two retailers who go all out for seasonal and holiday events.
Pufferbellies in Staunton, Virginia, is one of my all-time favorite independent stores because they understand how to create wonder, magic, and emotion in their holiday decorations - as evidenced in these three Christmastime windows. (photos courtesy of Robbie Lawson)
Read how and why they created the magnificent window below here.