holiday window display

Windows of Opportunity: Create Winning Displays This Holiday Season (And Every Season)

by • November 9, 2015 • Small Business Marketing, Wholesale AdviceComments Off on Windows of Opportunity: Create Winning Displays This Holiday Season (And Every Season)4872

A focused design for your window display will pull customers into your store, set you apart from the competition, and leave a lasting impression.

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In retail, a store’s eyes are its windows. As with interior displays, your windows should reinforce your store’s brand image. The same visual merchandising techniques you use to create inviting and dramatic in-store displays apply here, too. Consider the following:

Keep A Calendar

Do you think the visual merchandisers at Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s make it up as they go along? Of course not. They plan their displays down to the finest detail, and so should you. Gather your ideas, grab a blank calendar, and plot all of your holiday display dates at once. Continue through 2016 — at least a quarter in advance. Your ideas may change, but you’re more likely to follow through with a plan once you’ve written it down.

By the way, a good place to start planning your displays is at ASD Market Week. Get your free ticket here to sit in on dozens of free retail strategy sessions.

First Impressions Count

customer at retail window display

Customers should be able to understand your brand message within the first ten seconds (or less) of contact with your store. Make sure your window displays tell a story that reinforces this message. It’s easy to go overboard, but adding too much will actually make your life harder than it needs to be. Sometimes the cleanest, simplest displays make the greatest impact, especially when your goal is to create a recognizable brand image.

Change Your Window Displays Every Other Week

Yes, every two weeks. If you change them less frequently, regular shoppers will get bored and stop noticing your windows. We also recommend changing your store’s “speed bump display” – the small table or fixture located front-and-center of your sales floor — once a week, whether it needs it or not. Rotating a single fixture re-energizes your sales floor, and windows need the same kind of attention. In fact, we recommend changing your window displays and your “speed bump” on the same day.

Pick a Theme

holiday window display

Source: littleny /

Christmas windows are actually easy to plan because we all know what happens during the Golden Quarter. So what will it be? Winter wonderland? Santa and his elves? Cookies by the fireside? Whichever theme you choose, make sure it screams, “Holiday!”

Ups and Downs

Try playing around with horizontal and vertical lines, and mix things up by varying prop heights as much as possible. Remember to keep a majority of your products at eye level. If your store is freestanding, or part of an outdoor shopping center, then you’ll want to double-check how your windows look from the road. Make sure they’re easy to see and comprehend.

Also, a great backdrop will not only capture shoppers’ attention, but also highlight the product display. We recommend a fabric backdrop or large photo banner. Vertical banners draw the eye up and down as well as forward – you can’t miss the merchandise!

Props Set the Stage

Believe it or not, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on props. You can use found art or even things you may have stashed in your stockroom, basement, or garage. We happen to know a few retailers who cruise tony neighborhoods on trash days — they’re rarely disappointed with what they find! Also, don’t be shy about adding on: why show only one coat when you can pair it with a hat, scarf, or handbag? Load it up and let the shopper decide which items to buy!

Don’t Forget the “Silent Salesmen”

Window signs should be eye-catching and large enough for potential customers to see as they walk or drive by. Choose a simple font that’s large enough for shoppers who may rely on reading glasses. Signage should complement the display — retail is in the details! And unless handwritten signage is part of your branding (think Starbucks or Trader Joe’s), it has no place in your window displays or on your sales floor.

Vinyl’s Making a Comeback

sale window display

Try vinyl lettering to enhance your theme. It’s fast, easy, and inexpensive. We like the clean, uncluttered look of 4-6” wide, white, reflective vinyl lettering. Begin near the lower left corner of your window, then go up to the top, across, and down the other side, ending in the lower right hand corner. When you’re finished, the lettering will look like a border framing the entire window, telling shoppers about the cool stuff they’ll find right inside your front door. Think of signage like the matboard around a fine art print. One more thing: it’s a good idea to add your web address and telephone number near the bottom of the window so customers will be able to check out your merchandise online even when the store’s closed.

Opt for a Decal

Some store windows just don’t lend themselves to displays. If your windows are an awkward size or receive too much reflective sunlight, then try for “can’t miss” graphics for any window!

Do the Unexpected

Ever notice how people stop to watch you set your window displays? Take that a step further with a tableau vivant, or “living window.” Add people posing as mannequins, or maybe even do a live demo right in your window display! (Just make sure the product is in an easy-to-find location near the front of the store.)

Keep It Clean

We recently sent a focus group into what we thought was a beautifully merchandised store. We gave them 25 seconds to walk around and report back on what they saw. We were ready to hear good things, but boy, were we ever wrong! One woman was particularly annoyed by the dead flies she saw in the front window. Sure, every store window has a few dead bugs, but this shopper equated dirty windows with a dirty store. We thought that was a stretch, but perception is reality — especially when it comes to your customers.

Bottom line: have fun with your window displays and your customers will, too!

Looking to gain more knowledge like this and fill your shop with the right high-margin inventory? Meet the authors at the next ASD Market Week! Get your free ticket here. ASD is a merchandise trade show and retail education conference in one, with over 90 free retail strategy sessions all under one roof!!

Rich Kizer & Georganne BenderBy Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender and Haas Regen

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are retail strategists, authors and consultants – – and have been featured in The New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, Las Vegas Review Journal, MSNBC’s “Your Business,” NPR, and National Retail Federation. In 2014, their “Retail Adventures” blog was named the “Top Retail Blog” by PR Newswire Media. Their books include Visual Merchandising & Store Design: How to Set Your Sales Floor to Sell; BRANDING!; and Jingle Bells…Christmas Sells! They will also be speaking at the next ASD Market Week.

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