How to create an eye-catching window display

By Sam Iontton27/10/2020

Your window display is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. It gives your customers an idea of what your brand is about, and provides an opportunity to showcase your best products and services to the world. Think of your window display like a movie trailer; it needs to attract an audience, be engaging and ultimately drive people in. Just like a billboard or advert, your shop's window can be the make or break factor in whether a customer decides to enter, or simply walk on by.

Whether you want to uplift the display window of a single shop or have a seasonal change-up in a chain of retailers, we’re on hand to provide tips on how to create an eye-catching window display that is sure to lure customers into your store.

mannequin retail merchandising display

Showcase a window display that tells a story

Before you start to pull your window display together, you must take a step back and sketch out some ideas. Create mind maps, mood boards and even colour charts so you can build up and experiment with what you think is going to make the biggest impact.

The best place to start is to start with a story based on a theme, which of course needs to blend effortlessly with your brand values. Storytelling is a great strategic business tool as it evokes a strong neurological response and gives your customers something to relate to.

While it’s great to showcase the changing of the seasons or holidays through your window displays, think about how these themes can be turned into a story. For example, you could display the theme of Christmas through the magical story of The Nutcracker, just as you could engage passers-by with a haunted house display at Halloween.

When it comes to the holiday season, it can be easy to grab onto the latest marketing trend that your competitors are already showcasing. Captivating your customers relies on your content being refreshingly original by repelling any cliche, which let’s face it, they’ve probably seen before.


Create a focal point for your display window

Once you’ve got an idea of your story based on a theme, take some time to step into the street and look at your window from the perspective of a customer. Use tape or markers to determine eye-levels, distinguish the centre line and investigate much ceiling space is available. This will give you a good idea as to whether you can incorporate ceiling suspended elements, mannequins and so on.

By completing this task, you should have a good idea of where your focal point should be. This is the point where you want potential customers to look first and ultimately concentrate their focus. Whatever you decide on for this, it should be large enough to catch a shopper’s attention, even when walking on the opposite side of the street.

This is a good time to start thinking about the arrangement around the focal point. Will your surrounding elements be on shelves, wires, set up in a pyramid? Use boxes to explore different configurations and take a glance from different angles. Remember at this point it’s all about experimentation and seeing exactly what works best.

Retail store window display

If it’s a fashion store you’re creating a show-stopping window for, then mannequins and tailors dummies are great for making clothes stand out, by highlighting seasonal outfits and providing customers with a view of how clothes look on. It’s essential you showcase these ensembles in their best light by steaming on a regular basis with professional clothes steamer, this shows passersby that your brand's clothes deliver an impressive level of performance.

A great shop window is bold and bright

Modern-day distractions are making it increasingly challenging to grab people’s attention. It’s important to consider that the person passing by your store could be engrossed in a conversation with a friend, or looking down at their phone. This means you need to go big if you want to catch their eye. The key here is to create a window display that people want to capture with their smartphone and share with the world on social media.

The best way to do this is by surprising your customers. Don’t be predictable, infuse unexpected objects into your windows, forest displays, animals, palm trees, colourful rainbows, and playful characters are all great ways to attract attention.

Don’t be afraid to be bold with colours, shapes and props, while still remaining consistent with your brand.

Shop window displays

Understand your target customer

You could have the most vivid story, but if it doesn’t resonate with your desired audience, it’s unlikely to grab their attention. Your customer must be able to connect to your narrative, and also be relative to their lives.

Discovering who your customer is can help you resonate, if your brand is family-oriented, for example, be sure that your window display reflects this, perhaps with male, female and child mannequins.


creating a story with your window display

Keep your retail display ideas simple

When creating your story and experimenting with your window display, it can be easy to get carried away and feel the need to clutter your display. While it’s essential to showcase what you’ve got to offer, overly complicated designs can often overwhelm potential customers.

Draw attention to groups of products, and keep your display clutter-free, you must be able to justify a reason for every element used. It’s more than likely that one better quality product can make more of an impression than mass quantities of a single product. However, that said, if you do choose to opt for large quantities of one product, this leaves scope for some creative designing. A rainbow made up of cosmetic products, for example, is likely to get more attention than a stand-alone product.

Display boxes, trays and cubes are great for drawing attention to specific products and encouraging impulse purchases. Clear acrylic display cubes can highlight individual best selling products in a neat, understated way - bringing all the attention to the desired item.

Balance your window

To create a pleasing aesthetic, you need to balance small and large displays, dark and light colours, lights and shadows and so on. Placing all large items to one side will create an unbalanced display, and won’t draw potential customers in the way you desire. Risers, blocks and plinths are a great promotional tool to balance out your products, raise their visibility and create multi-tier displays at an affordable cost.

Trust your judgement and move items until you feel you have a fully coherent design. Think of your window as a large pair of scales. The trick is to keep these scales level without counterbalancing one side.


Catch eyes with display lights

Lighting is not only eye-catching, but it can also create the desired ambience and highlight specific products over others. Whatever scene you want to create, from romantic to spooky, being strategic with your lighting can transform your window display, directing customers' eyes right to where you want them.

Lighting your window from the top can create harsh shadows, so it’s essential to consider lighting layers from all angles as this will create a 3D dynamic quality to your display. Investing in some spotlights that you can leave on when you're closed can also expand your visibility and create brand awareness, even into the night.

Use of lighting in your retail window display

Update your window display regularly

Updating your window display regularly will keep it fresh and engaging for customers, which will ultimately result in increased footfall. This doesn’t have to be a costly or even time-consuming task. Rotating certain images, backdrops or mannequin outfits every few weeks can be enough to maintain a consistent display. Updating your full display every one or two months is enough to keep it relevant and captivating. It is, however, highly recommended that you keep your window displays clean, as this leaves an overall impression for the rest of your shop. Smear free display cleaner will ensure your window remains clean and aesthetically pleasing as possible.

Once you’ve got your products and display merchandise where you want them, take a stroll past your window and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Checking your window out from different angles can check the balance, and how visible calls to action or signage are.

Update your window display regularly