The Best Way To Create Window Displays That Turn Heads And Drive Foot Traffic Into Your Store

Retail store window display

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Retailers are always looking for ways to draw shoppers into their stores.

Yet most brick-and-mortar retailers don’t understand that they have the means to capitalize on what Amazon and the rest can’t, an eye-catching display window.

Sure, they’ll look at dozens of Pinterest boards for creative window display ideas, but honestly, many of those creative pictures are filled with bad ideas that confuse the shopper and ultimately make them walk on.

That’s because when you’re looking at creating visual merchandising window displays, you have to keep the shopper in mind, not the merch.

It isn’t hard to create eye-catching  window displays when you first answer these three questions from the passers-by perspective:

  • What do you want me to look at?
  • Where do you want me to look first?
  • How can you draw me closer?

Recently, Allison Browne, a jewelry store co-owner on Main Street in Portlaoise, Ireland, asked what I honestly thought about her display windows (see picture above.)

“To be honest,” I said, “your windows are all wrong.” Allison was a bit crestfallen and replied, “What’s wrong?”

That’s when I realized why so many retailers struggle with their display windows; they haven’t spent enough time analyzing why one window works and another doesn’t.

So before I get to how to create a great window, let’s answer the question of what makes a bad window display by using the picture above:

  • There are too many items.
  • The merchandise is too small to be easily seen.
  • Merchandise is too similar or too dissimilar.
  • Nothing pulls you to the window.
  • The props are in the wrong place.
  • You can’t see into the shop.
  • The background picture is too small.
  • There’s too much of one color - in this case, white.
  • The cubes are too stuffed with stuff.

How did I remake the front display window?

The first thing I did was find a piece worthy of being in the center of the window. I found a Ted Baker fuschia necklace, a row of detailed flowers dangling from a short chain. While it was only about $150 USD, it had enough oomph to draw shoppers to it.

How Your Merchandising Can Influence Customers To Increase Retail Sales

They had sold the matching earrings but did have a similar piece with just one flower, and I rounded that out with a similar color ring. Just three items would make one statement in the center box.

Then I moved the three oversize rose blooms from the top of the cases because:

  • They were too big and out of proportion to be at the top of the cases.
  • They were unlit.
  • They added nothing to create drama in the window.

Simply moving them to the bottom of the window where they could grab the natural light suddenly made the window pop.

The eyes of the passersby were now drawn to the red blooms and straight onto the necklace. I call this the boomerang effect. You can see it below.

IMG_1846 (1)

While I didn’t have time to do the rest of the window, you get the point. I would have removed the items under the three boxes and simply focused on the top three, which were at eye level already. 

Here’s Allison and her friend LaDonna McCaran’s reaction to the redone window...

To further help you upgrade your merchandising skills, while in Manhattan recently, I was able to take three short, live videos of three window displays. I point out the most important quality that makes each of these windows work in the videos below. 



Macy’s Herald Square

Drawing The Eye With Height and Color 


Similar And Related Backdrops

5 Tips to Create Winning Window Displays:

1. Select one, stop-in-your-tracks, best item you sell. It must have been selected due to visual appeal, not because it’s on sale.

2. Less is more. Select two other items that correlate. There’s a real synergy with threes.

3. Put that one best item right at eye level. Not sure where that is from a street point-of-view? An old trick to locate eye level is to stand outside in front of your window and put a piece of masking tape straight across the glass. Now when you go inside to position the merchandise, you can see that orientation. Double-check from the outside after you remove the tape.

4. Use props. They must make a statement but not overpower your window. Often I call these pigs in the window because they have nothing to do with the merchandise in the display, but grab the passerby's attention; think of those red rose blooms above.

5. Add a backdrop, but use caution. In the Timberland video, you can see how the visual impact of the woman’s eye draws you in. Yes, it is powerful but it comes at a price; you can’t see into the store. People attract people, so try to keep your windows open to the store so shoppers can notice the merchandise but also see you have more inside.

See also, Retail Merchandising Pulling It Altogether

In Sum

What makes a good window display?

• A limited number of items.
• Merchandise big enough to be easily seen.
• Merchandise that relates to each other.
• The biggest, best item is at eye level.
• Props focus attention on the merchandise, don’t pull it
• You can see into the shop.
• Backgrounds are of enough size to add but not overwhelm.
• It has a simple color story.

When you want to create any display, particularly window displays to draw shoppers close like a bear to honey, you will keep the shopper in mind - not the merchandise.

And that’s very good for business.