Retail is in the Details
As in interior displays, your windows should reinforce your store’s image. The same visual merchandising techniques you use to create inviting and dramatic in-store displays apply here too.
Consider the following:
Grab a blank calendar and fill it with your display ideas. Try and plan at least a quarter in advance. Your ideas can still change, but when you have a written plan you are more likely to actually follow it.
A good place to start your planning is at the trade shows and markets you attend. As you place orders think about how and where that product will be displayed in your store. Does it warrant a window display? If it does, add it to your planning calendar.
Customers make value judgments about your store within the first 10 seconds of contact; in those 10 seconds they are unconsciously determining whether to stay and shop. Your window displays play a big part in this determination, so make sure they are always up to the challenge.
Do it less often and regular shoppers get bored and stop noticing your windows. You change your store’s speed bump display — the small table or fixture located front and center on your sales floor once a week — because changing that single fixture re-energizes your sales floor. Windows need the same kind of attention.
One more thing: Change your windows on the same day every other week and you will soon train customers to watch for your new displays.
Some windows are easy to plan because we all know what happens during certain times of the year. In-between holidays try something different. There are plenty of off-the-wall national holidays to choose from, like Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, Fly a Kite Day and National Chocolate Chip Day.
Shoppers passing by need to be able to understand your message within eight seconds or less. It’s easy to go overboard thinking, “I can add this and this and this!” Add too much and all you are doing is making your life harder. Consider a single item focus.
Displays that are only one level can be pretty boring, so mix it up. If your store is free-standing or part of an outdoor shopping center, you will want to check how your windows look from the road. Jump in your car and drive past your store to make sure your window displays are easy to see and comprehend.
But don’t spend a lot of money! Use found art — the things you have stashed in your stock room, your basement or garage.
Backdrops help capture attention and focus the eye on the product display. Try a fabric backdrop, large photo banner or props.
Signs should be eye-catching and large enough to read as potential customers drive by. Choose a simple font that’s large enough to be easily read.
For an added pop, consider adding window signs that direct customers to the merchandise they’ll find inside. We like the clean, uncluttered look of “chase signing”: 4-inch to 6-inch white, reflective vinyl lettering that’s used to highlight important the product categories/brands sold in your store.
Begin in the lower left corner of the 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 chase signing like the mat board around a fine art print.
It’s also a good idea to add your Web address and telephone number at the center bottom of the window. Customers will be able to easily check out your merchandise online even when the store a closed.
Some store windows just do not lend themselves to displays. They might be an awkward size, suffer from too much sunshine or just won’t benefit from an intricate display. Companies like TruckSkin.com will make you a “can’t miss” window graphic from your own photo. From the outside, all shoppers will see is the graphic. From inside the store it’s a regular window, you can see clearly what’s going on outside.
Ever notice how people stop to watch you set your window displays? Take it a step further with a “living window.” Add people posing as mannequins or create a living tableau. Maybe even do demos live in your windows — display the product used in an easy to find location near the front of the store.
We sent a focus group in to what we thought was a beautifully merchandised store. We gave them 25 seconds to walk around and then report back on what they saw. We were ready to hear good things, but boy, were we wrong. One woman was particularly annoyed by the dead flies she saw in the front window. Dead bugs in windows are a fact of life; every store window has a few, but this shopper equated dirty windows with a dirty store. We thought that was a stretch, yet we couldn’t disagree because this was her opinion — her perception — and perception is what counts with customers.