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Just how important are retail window displays?

Just how important are retail window displays?

The phrase “a shop window” is used in all sorts of contexts outside of retail. Whether it’s a footballer appearing in a big competition or a small business appearing on national television, it always means the same thing: exposing your products to new audiences. 

It shows there’s something instinctively sensible about using that piece of real estate to demonstrate to the world what’s inside. And most retailers do just that. It is, after all, like having a billboard on the street, at eye level.

Fashion

The fashion industry is probably the most accomplished when it comes to window displays. Clothes shops typically have hundreds of lines inside, but their shop windows are usually quite minimalist, showing just a small selection of this year’s styles, usually on mannequins.

It’s a simple, time-served way of promoting clothes that will probably never change, because it gives passers-by a three-dimensional image of the clothing, making it easy for them to imagine themselves looking that good. With good lighting and lifestyle imagery thrown in, it’s a winning combination that draws people in.

Jewellery

One branch of fashion that often takes things the other way is jewellery. It’s not uncommon for jewellers to have very little stock on display inside, because they often have a huge proportion of their range on display. Indeed, customers will often be buying the actual item they see in the window, especially in the upper tier jewellers. 

What jewellers are selling is choice, and it’s very easy to compare prices between similar items when everything is on show.

It all adds to the sense of exclusivity you are buying into with such luxury items, but that’s not to say all jewellers follow this route. 

Once you reach the very exclusive level of jewellers, the window displays are often extremely minimalistic, with perhaps one item per window. It brings focus onto the piece, which may well cost many multiples of £10,000, but also brings glamour, an essential ingredient in industries like this.

Specialised retail

In more general stores – electronics and specialist equipment and fancy goods – the products on offer are neither particularly fashionable nor exclusive, and predictably, their displays usually tread a middle path. While the latest gadget will always take pride of place, the price and the range will often be the things they’re advertising.

It’s particularly true with electronic goods, which are often pretty uninspiring unless they’re switched on. The message is that there’s a lot more where that came from inside the shop, so step in and you’ll get to have a play. 

Finding your pitch

If there’s one thing we can learn about successful window displays, it’s that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s all about knowing what your customers are looking for.

If they’re seeking exclusivity or being at the pinnacle of fashion, your displays should focus on a small number of flagship products. If your price offering or amount of choice distinguishes you from the other stores, you can be a bit more grabby, show off your USP and maybe even use a bit of humour in your displays. 

Finally, you need a professionally designed and installed display that really looks the part. And for that, you need to team up with the professionals.