10 Window Display Tips to Captivate Shoppers and Drive in-Store Traffic

Girlfriends window shopping

While great products and excellent customer service can keep customers coming back, your visuals and branding are what entices many people to walk into your shop in the first place. Your store’s window display plays a big part in this, which is why you should take the steps to make it as fresh and attention-grabbing as possible.

Need tips on how you can accomplish this? Here are 10:


Be aware of who your target audience is

Before you bring out your craft supplies, fixtures, and whatnot, take some time to think about your target audience. Who do you want to attract? What types of people would benefit most from your products and services? Let the answers to these questions guide your decisions.

Your window display needs to be targeted enough to entice the right shoppers, but not too specific that it’ll alienate potential customers. This is something that Sessions Music, a music education company learned.

According to its marketing director Adam Williamson, since 75% of their students were under the age of 15, they initially stuck with “child-centric” imagery in their displays. They soon realized however, that this alienated and misled potential customers into thinking that Session Music was just for kids.

“Even after we changed this, we still constantly had people saying ‘Do you have programs for adults?’ Of course we do but our window displays did not properly showcase that,” Williamson said.

“And after our change in imagery, we noticed that as long as our imagery didn’t contain anything offensive or adult-themed, nothing in our more broad imagery alienated our younger students either. In fact it made many of our students feel our business was ‘hipper’ (from a recent student survey) than before.”


Consider your environment

On top of thinking about who your target customers are, also be sure to consider their mindset, actions, and behavior when they’re in the vicinity.

Is you store in a shopping center where people can leisurely walk around, or are you in a fast-paced environment? Will they be with their kids or shopping alone? Will people be on foot when they see your displays or will they be in their cars?

Think about how much time people have when they stroll, stride, or drive by your store, then design your window displays accordingly.

For instance, at Sessions Music, they make it a point to limit the use of text in their displays because they know that a lot of their customers only have a few seconds to look at their window.

“We realized that many people who see our window displays were in their car. If our message was not clear to someone who has 1-3 seconds to view it (not nearly enough time to read anything), then we would not run with it,” said Williamson.


Use your window not just to showcase products, but to tell stories

Stories, whether they’re read, heard, or in this case, seen, are far more effective in grabbing and keeping people’s attention. In other words, stories stick. This is true for speeches, articles, and yes, even window displays.

Your displays should go beyond showing off your products; they should tell tales that pique shoppers’ interest and encourage them to come inside. You can do this by selecting a theme, and finding stories in line with it.


Check out what Anthropologie is doing. The apparel retailer changes the window displays of its stores depending on certain seasons or events. What makes their window displays great though, is that Anthropologie always finds a unique angle or story within its chosen season theme.

For instance, for Earth Day 2013, the retailer decided to “pay homage to the gifts of gardening with a variety of handcrafted fruits and veggies, and containers made from recycled cans, tires, bottles and more.”


Stay away from clichés

We just have one caveat when it comes to storytelling based on themes: Don’t to fall into the trap of using clichés.

For instance, when Halloween rolls around, it might be tempting to fill your display with pumpkins or ghouls. This might be a bit superficial. Find ways to go a bit off the beaten path and come up with something unique.


Image credit: Jun Belen 

Consider what Cole Hardware in San Francisco did. Instead of going for the cliched “Happy Halloween” route that’s filled with ghosts and Jack-o-Lanterns, it used the holiday to show off its broom selection and cleaning products while telling a Halloween tale at the same time.


Avoid clutter

Keep your designs clean and avoid including too many items in it. Your window display should provide a peek of what you have to offer, not give everything away. In addition, a cluttered window display can devalue your brand and merchandise. As display consultant Linda Cahan of Cahan & Co. told Entrepreneur, “in retailing, space equals luxury… if you cram items together in a window, they’ll look cheap.


Change your displays frequently

Williamson also advises retailers to keep their window displays up-to-date and relevant.

“It may seem quite burdensome and expensive to constantly be changing window displays but their effectiveness is directly correlated to their relevance to your current promotions, the season, the weather, and so on,” he says.

At their store, he shares that they change their window displays at least once a month; and during busy seasons such as the holidays, they do so every week.

As a brick and mortar location, we often have repeat walk-by traffic. The same, tired displays eventually get ignored but a constantly changing array will keep people’s attentions peaked until they are ready to purchase (or enroll as in our case).”


Invest in key materials

You’ll be changing your window display regularly, so devote ample resources on the materials and equipment that you’ll be re-using. This could include frames, fixtures, lights, mannequins, and more.


Store your materials properly

Also be sure to invest in the storage materials for your fixtures and window display equipment.

At Sessions Music, for example, Williamson says that they “invested in quality storage materials (such as hard poster tubes for our window graphics) and reserved a clean, dry area to store them in for future displays.”

Doing so enables them to re-use their materials, saving them money and planning time.


Track and Test

Use in-store analytics tools such as beacons and people counters to track and measure the effectiveness of your window displays. This will give you insights into which displays are working so you can refine your strategy.


Always be on the lookout for inspiration

Need ideas for you next window display? The web is full of design resources that you can draw inspiration from. Here are a few to get you started:

Pinterest – A quick search for “window displays” will return tons of pins and boards that you can peruse for ideas. Be sure to pin, like, or follow the good ones (such as Vend’s Beautiful Window Displays board) so you can always come back to them when you need to.

Retail Design Blog – This is a site that aims to assist retailers and visual merchandisers by providing news about the latest design trends and by presenting interesting projects and designs.

design:retail – Another great source for inspiration, design:retail covers retail design news and trends, and showcases layouts, designs, and displays from other retail stores.


Bottom Line


Like we said in our Retail Tips Generator, your window is basically a big free billboard that you have full control over. Be sure to do something really cool with it, and make it count.

How do you keep your window displays fresh and compelling? Tell us–or better yet–show us by leaving a link in the comments or by tweeting pics of your window displays @vendhq.



About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.