June 28, 2017

10 Tips for Creating a Great Window Display for Your Retail Store


Whether or not you’re in one of the snow-burdened states of the U.S., February is the time all Americans’ thoughts (even here in Southern California) start to turn to Spring.

Even if you and your customers can’t indulge in Spring fever just yet, you can start planning for warmer weather and the foot traffic it can bring to your store — if you’ve got an appealing window display, that is.

Our attention spans are shorter these days. We’ve got a lot more distractions. So, a standout window display can make the difference between people rushing past your store or coming in to shop. Below are tips for creating a window display that will have customers gazing in amazement. . .hopefully.

Plan Your Purpose

What message you want your window display to convey? Just like any type of advertising, it needs a unified message. Do you want to announce a sale? Or maybe let customers know about new arrivals? Perhaps your display could tie into an upcoming holiday?

Make Sure Signage is Easily Visible

The sign that looks great when you’re standing right next to it might be illegible from across the street. Use contrasting colors for better readability and type sizes that can be easily seen.

Think in 3-D

A window display that’s two-dimensional or can only be seen from straight on is less effective than it could be. Angle mannequins, signs and display items in the window so people can also see them from either side as they approach.





Decide Whether You Want a Background

Or do you want your store to be visible? Each approach has its pros and cons. Putting a background behind the display makes it stand out better. A display with no background lets passersby see into your store and get a view of other items for sale.

If you want a middle ground, consider a background that doesn’t block the whole window but lets the store be visible around the edges. For example, you could hang giant framed posters behind each mannequin, leaving space between them.

Find the Right Mix of Products and Props

Big-name stores often use stark or conceptual window displays, but they have the advantage of a built-in customer base. You need to be a little more literal and display the items you sell to attract people who aren’t familiar with your brand. Get creative by adding props, but be sure you feature products. After all, they’re the reason for the display in the first place.

Find the Focal Point

Even if your store is a crafts or collectibles store that lends itself to a cozy, cluttered look, you need to create a focal point within the window. Where do you want the viewer’s eye to go first? What do you want them to see next? Group items together in a way that leads the eye throughout the display. For example, instead of lots of small items of similar sizes, group one large item with smaller but varied items.

Don’t Forget Lighting

You shouldn’t rely solely on your store’s overhead lights. They can often cast unflattering shadows. Use spotlights, uplights, or colored lights to create the right mood for the display and to draw attention to focal points.

Build on Your Brand

Your plan for your window design should enhance your business brand. Bold colors and in-your-face window displays could work great for a skateboard store, while pastel shades and a soothing, cozy look would be better for a baby furnishings shop. Incorporate the fonts and colors of your brand into any signage.

Create Continuity

The theme or design in your store window should be reflected throughout the store. Repeat similar colors, signage or items. Make sure products in the window display are prominently displayed in the store. Don’t put them right at the front (you want to draw shoppers inside), but do make them close enough to see from the door.

Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things

What’s the worst that can happen? No window display lasts forever (in fact, you should change them out frequently), so if one idea doesn’t work, swap it out for another.

Store Window Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

3 Reactions

  1. Thanks for the article! I love how you go step by step to explain the perfect mannequin display. Knowing what message the display is showing is crucial to the overall look of the store. I have been to a few stores where the mannequins just didn’t look very nice. As I walked into the store further it just didn’t connect to the front display. I love that one of your suggestions is to maintain the same theme throughout the entire store. This can be so important especially when you are looking for that kind of design inside the store. Great suggestions, definitely gonna keep these in mind whenever I go shopping.

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