6 Steps to Winning Storefront Displays
It's a pleasant afternoon, and you're strolling along, casually window shopping, but then you stop in your tracks. In front of you is an enthralling window display. There might be colorful toys whizzing away in the window or a bold art installation showing off the latest avant-garde fashions. It doesn’t matter. All you can do is just stand there, gape-mouthed, marveling over all the details.

There’s an art behind those stand-out storefronts that make them work so well. The best storefront windows tell a story about your brand and sell the product at the same time. They're careful compositions of layout, color, and lighting, all designed to entice you into entering the shop.

It’s important, after all. According to urban design expert Scott Day, a window only has 2.5 seconds to capture a person's attention. But how can you do it? Here are a few of the basics to get you started:


Storefront Display Layout
1. Setting the Stage

As a rule of thumb, no more than 30 percent of your window should be filled with product or display pieces. Your display should peak a pedestrian's interest and the inside of your store should supplement it. Passersby should be able see into your store. Having a clear view inside gives them reassurance. Shoppers are more likely to enter if they can see what's going on in your store. Dark or tinted windows can seem suspicious or even make your store look like it’s closed.

Of course, not all window displays need to follow this rule. Some window displays benefit from a clean backdrop to help the product stand out from the busy inside of the shop. Even then, passersby should be able to catch glimpses of your store in between your different window displays. For businesses that have a strong enough brand (such as Louis Vuitton or Apple), a clean storefront speaks for itself.

2. It's All About Spacing

Depending on the products you sell, you'll want to space them out accordingly. The more space around a product, the more expensive it seems. The more crowded your products are, the cheaper they look. A store whose main focus is getting the customers great bargains would benefit from a plentiful display, while a jewelry store or designer handbag store would want to spotlight only a few products at a time.

Storefront Displays Pyramid Principle


Follow the Pyramid Principle. Stack your products, placing your primary product on the top to attract attention, says interior designer Barbara Wright. Then allow the other elements to trail downwards. People's gazes travel left to right, top to bottom (similar to reading a book), so create a visual path for them to follow.

Window shoppers will be drawn to the top focal point, so be sure to keep it at eye-level for pedestrians or drivers, depending on your primary source of traffic. To determine eye level, go outside and stick a piece of tape across the window at eye-level to use as a reference as you put your display together.

3. Be the Odd Man Out

Storefront Displays Odd Numbers and Repetition


According to Wright, an odd number of products adds more visual appeal than an even number. Asymmetrical arrangements are slightly off-balance and force the eye to keep moving around the display. Odd numbers give dynamism to storefront displays, while even numbers are too symmetrical and may cause people to glaze over.

While clutter is generally discouraged, repetition of the same product is also visually appealing. The products don't need to be identical. For example, you could showcase five pairs of your best-selling jeans in different colors. Just make sure that your products are positioned the same way for maximum impact. Repetition also tells customers that you have a wide selection available for them to peruse.

Storefront Display Color
4. Add a Splash of Color

Think about how color fits into your brand. Don't be afraid of color—the right one can get you attention—but do make sure that it fits your brand.

If you're new to color, read up on color psychology and the different types of color palettes available. Different colors and how you arrange them can convey different messages.

Finding good balance of color can sometimes be difficult. If that's the case, go back to the 60-30-10 rule. This is a common rule followed by interior designers, but it can be easily applied to your storefront.

60 percent of your display should be the primary color. Your largest or broadest spaces should be this color (ceilings, walls, floors). This could be a neutral backdrop or the inside of your store. For your secondary color, only use it on 30 percent of your display. This could be an elegant hand-crafted wall of paper flowers or the deep brown wood of the furniture. Finally save the brightest color for 10 percent of your display. Pops of jewel purple or sunny yellow in cushions, lamp shades, or a scarf give your window display just enough color.

Here’s a great analogy from the American Institute of Decorators. Think of a man's suit. The suit jacket and pants makes up for 60 percent of the outfit's color. The crisp white shirt accounts for 30 percent, while the tie and pocket square accents the outfit, composing 10 percent of the outfit's color.

Storefront Display Lighting
5. Light It Up

Lighting can make or break your window display. Of course, lighting is used to improve visibility, but here are a couple points about lighting that you might not realize.

First, it's important to keep your windows well-lit during the day. According to Day, it's a common misconception that the lights should only be on at night. Using the appropriate lighting behind a display window can help reduce glare during the day. If the lights are off, all passersby will be able to see is their reflection, not the product. To find the sweet spot, go outside and check your display from the sidewalk at different times of day.

Second, the type of lighting can affect people's perception of your product. Fluorescent lights are associated with cheaper products, while dramatic spotlights give the impression of higher price points. Lighting, just like spacing, sets certain expectations for your products.

6. Dressing It Up and Down

Change up your storefront frequently. The more often you change your windows, the more often people will look at them. It gives people a reason to keep an eye out for your storefront. Many retail design experts recommend changing your display once every two weeks, but if you're on a budget, that's not always feasible. Instead, aim to update your storefront once every one to two months.

Storefront Displays - Anthropologie


Engaging storefront displays don't need to be expensive. Anthropologie does this exceptionally well, using common materials such as paper to create dreamy displays. All it takes is a little creativity and time.

Storefront Display - Cole Hardware
If you lack inspiration, take notes from storefronts you like. Snap a photo and create an inspiration board. See what they're doing well and how you can apply it to your storefront. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Think about how you can use your products in a unique way. Cole Hardware in San Francisco put together this fun display for Halloween and featured their brooms.

Finally, a clean storefront improves your business's appeal. This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Keep the windows smudge free and the sidewalk swept clean. You hardly want someone's first impression of your business to be of dust bunnies, trash and cobwebs.

Whew! That might seem like a lot, but each of these little things can help your window display stand out and attract more traffic. All it takes is an understanding of the basics: layout, color, and lighting. Once you've got these tricks down, your store is on its way to sales success.


Page Authored By Rick Debus

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