Make the Most of your Retail Window

Some say that first impressions are everything.  This is absolutely true in the retail world.  Your storefront windows provide the opportunity to make a favorable first impression on shoppers and passersby.  With the in-store decision rate at an all-time high of 76%, according to Point of Purchase Advertising International,  independent retailers must consider the power of the window.

“Great window displays reflect the soul and mood of a retail store.  An amazing window has the power to drive traffic and inspire shoppers,” says Christopher Meyer, President of InnoMark Permanent Display Group.

The task of executing an effective window display may seem daunting.  However, a little planning and a minor investment can go a long way towards a positive first impression.  Here are Boutique Vision’s top five tips for creating window displays that drive traffic, inspire shoppers, and build brands.

Identify a Theme

It can be a particular color scheme, shape, season, event, etc.  Many suppliers offer a variety of materials, such as hanging snowflakes, hearts, stars, etc. that apply to seasonal themes and can be reused if properly maintained.  Try to avoid choosing a general theme, such as “holiday”.  Select a more specific concept that expresses your brand’s personality.  For example, a vintage retailer might choose the theme, “An Old Fashioned Christmas”.  Figure out what inspires you and move forward with a plan.

Think Outside the Window

Step outside before designing your display.  View your window from close up, as well as across the street.  Determine which areas are eye level for passersby and mark with tape for guidance.  Consider these areas as you choose design elements.  You can also use as a guide for suspending hanging items and placing window clings.  Please note that it is important to complete this task from outside.  The interior floor and the sidewalk are not always the same height.  Therefore, focal points will be different from each view.

Light it Up

Determine your primary focal points and highlight with accent lighting.  What do you want passersby to notice?  Signage, new products, etc.?  Focus your lighting on these select elements.  LED lights will maximize your budget dollars in the long run.  Basic LED spotlights are available online or at your local hardware store.  We generally recommend white bulbs.  However, there are occasions when colored lights can complement a display.  If you choose to use colored lights, make sure that the colors work with your display instead of against it.  Does your area experience heavy evening traffic?  If so, consider leaving spotlights on overnight to capture attention and inspire repeat visits.

Create a Window “Tool Kit”

It’s impossible to complete a job successfully without the proper tools.  Therefore, we recommend keeping a “kit” of the items commonly used when building and maintaining window displays.  The contents of your kit will vary based on your needs.  However, here are a few basics to get you started:

  • Tape
  • Clips/hooks/hanging hardware
  • Fishing line
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Basic tools (screwdrivers, etc.)
  • Extra light bulbs
  • Glass cleaner
  • Dust cloth

Keeping these items handy should result in better execution and fewer trips to the hardware store.

Keep it Current

Incorporate regular window updates into your marketing plan.  Many stores experience routine traffic.  The same group may drive or walk past en route to work, school, or the gym each day.  Show them that there is something new inside.  This does not always require an completely new window display.  An update can be as simple as new featured products or mannequins.  Plot the major shopping seasons on a calendar and determine when you will make minor updates vs. when you will execute an entirely new display.  We realize that it is difficult to plan updates for the entire year.  Therefore, we recommend that you update your plan quarterly.  Documenting your plan may take a few extra minutes in the short term.  However, updates will be smoother and easier in the long run.

Contributed by Melissa Molyneaux, the marketing director for, a website that provides printed signage, shopping bags and in-store marketing materials to independent retailers. The site’s mission is to provide the benefits of custom merchandising, without high volume requirements or agency expenses. Boutique Vision is fully owned by InnoMark Communications, a provider of custom visual mercha
ndising solutions for major retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) clients. Molyneaux may be reached at, or 855-889-5362.




  • John
    January 27, 2014

    Hi. Great points all really well made. The one I see retailers constantly missing is ‘think outside the window’. The create great displays right there in front of them, forgetting a sizeable amount of footfall will be viewing from a distance.

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