Window displays became popular in the late 1800s because large plate glass was now available to make windows that ran the length of a store. When Selfridges opened in London, England, it featured the longest continuous window façade Britain had seen.
The window displays at Selfridges became an instant hit, setting a trend that retailers still use today in order to announce sales, welcome a season, invite passersby to stop, look at, desire, enter, and buy.
Whether you are a larger retailer or a small shop owner with a storefront, your retail window(s) are one of your most powerful marketing tools. You don’t need to have a design background to create a compelling display. Just start with a pen and paper (or tablet) and brainstorm some ideas.
STEP 1 – Pick a theme. It doesn’t need to match what you sell. That comes later. Windows “tell a story”. So for a summer theme, think about stories such as a day at the beach, camping in the woods, a picnic.
STEP 2 – Write down the products you could display that go with your story. For example, if it’s a day at the beach, these could be products related to clothes to wear, food to bring, accessories you’ll need, activities or sports.
STEP 3 – Pick a focal point where you want people to look first. This is where you put your largest (or only) “prop”. It should be related to your theme and story, but doesn’t have to be one of your products. Going with the beach theme, a prop could be a large lounging chair or oversized umbrella; if you’ve selected a picnic theme, perhaps a picnic table covered in a checkered cloth.
STEP 4 – Now add your products. Pick a few and display them well. If the window looks cluttered, you’ve lost the effect.
STEP 5 – Create a background. This can be as simple as a coloured backdrop, an enlarged photo, balloons hanging from the ceiling, or draped cloths. For our beach theme, perhaps all you need is sand on the ground and blue streamers at the back.
STEP 6 – Lighting is essential. Use strategically placed LED lights to highlight your focal point and products displayed. Also consider strings of mini lights, paper lanterns,“pretend” candles to create a mood.
STEP 7 – Now back up and have a look. It’s time to add “pop”. You don’t want to be bland so consider these ideas:
- Add bold colour, like hot pink for the background, or paint the prop you’ve used a neon green or yellow!
- Think humour. Perhaps a family of teddy bears is coming to the beach.
- Add a prop that provides height, perhaps a stool or a flagpole. For a beach display, a ladder draped in bright towels.
- Consider a sign like “More new products inside!”
Remember to change your display before it gets stale. You don’t want a beach theme in September. Now it’s time to think of fall fairs, harvest and camp fires!