For brick-and-mortar retailers, many things have changed over the last few years, but constructing window displays is still a powerful way to drive impulse sales and lure prospective customers into stores.

When your goal is to stop pedestrians in their tracks, throwing a little merchandise in a window isn’t enough. You need the right skills and knowledge to create effective sensory bait.

1If you’re struggling with visual merchandising concepts and theme ideas for your display windows, these 7 tips can help.  Read tomorrow’s blog post for an additional 7 tips.

This article was written by  Tom Greenhaw, the founder of Cashier Live, the leader in web-based POS software. The photos are from various Mannequin Madness boards on Pinterest which has lots of window display ideas from around the world.


1 Aim for Six Themes a Year

Some retailers only construct window displays to represent the four seasons, but viewers quickly become bored with winter snow and summer pool floats.

Take advantage of opportunities to relate your merchandise to holidays like Father’s Day and Teacher’s Day instead of just Christmas and Easter. You can even base themes on technological advances and current news events. Try to feature at least six different themes per year in large windows.

2 Same Merchandise, Different Display

Even if your featured merchandise rarely changes, don’t make the mistake of recreating the same display every year. Most customers don’t have short-term memory loss. Create a new look for an old standby. New colors, props and signage can transform last year’s elegant formal dinner setting into a trendy New York nightclub scene. When choosing construction materials for displays, look for items you could potentially use in several different ways. 

3 Be Original

People love the unique and unexpected. Why would anyone drop everything to look at a Christmas tree with presents under it? If your displays are becoming too much like the ones in stores around you, search the Internet for fresh ideas. Don’t create exact replicas of what you find; make ideas your own by incorporating your merchandise and your own brand’s values.

3 4 Think Big and Bold

If you want to sell lots of tiny things, you must draw attention to them with something big that no one can miss. Consider using oversize cardboard props, large decorated signs, and lots of bright, bold colors in the display’s background.

5 Beyond Retail Curriculum: Study Design Principles

Brushing up on the principles of interior design can help you craft more effective and artful windows. Contrast, proportion, rhythm and pattern all work together to catch the eye and dazzle the senses. Learn to create a focal point and balance color with space and shape. Many free design resources are available online.


 6 Focus on Sensory Input

Dynamic elements like interactive and multi-media display components appeal to today’s technologically savvy shoppers. Boring presentations of even simple products just don’t suffice in the current retail environment. Keep up with your customers’ connected lifestyles to gain their interest.

7 Keep Up Your Stores Exterior

From the street, the external appearance of your store is the first thing people notice. If it’s a messy, neglected eyesore, even your best window won’t stand a chance. Be sure that your exterior paint, awnings, signage, banners, marquees, landscapes and entranceways look their best at all times.