Creating a Standout Window Display for Your Retail Store

By J.B. Maverick

2 min read

As a small business retailer, window displays are potentially one of your most powerful marketing tools for attracting customers. Smartly designed window displays are also an area where you can gain a substantial edge over other small business competitors, many of which simply don’t bother putting much effort into creating standout window displays, and larger competitors that tend to have standard, “cookie cutter,” less-than-eye-catching window displays. Putting some extra effort into creating window displays that really grab the attention of passing customers gives you an opportunity to draw a significant increase in foot traffic and sales.

Focus on the Focal Point

The totality of your window display is important, and the difference between a good window display and a great one can be the little extras. However, the most eye-catching displays, ones that make passersby stop in mid-stride, are ones that have a central, focal point that draws people’s eyes.

Make a bold statement with your focal point, and place it properly, right at eye level. If, for example, your furniture store is doing a display on home office furniture, place the best and brightest piece you have dead center in your display and set the window lighting to draw attention to it, perhaps by having a halo of bright, white light encircling it. Good lighting can sometimes make your window display a winner virtually all by itself.

Another trick is accenting the central piece in your display with a bright color, such as setting off a white dress with a bright green or red corsage. Bright colors in general, especially ones a bit different from basic colors, think teal instead of blue or green, help to attract attention and make your display stand out.


Truly superior window displays don’t just have a theme such as “Valentine’s Day,” but a story, such as “healing your broken heart.” One retailer capitalized on this with great success by making the focal piece in its Valentine’s Day window a large, bright red heart with a black, jagged line severing it down the middle. This idea also incorporated another important element in great window displays, the element of surprise. Arrest customers’ attention by showing them something that catches them by surprise.

Simple but Layered

Don’t clutter up your display with every product you’ve got. Avoid the mistake of putting too many things in your display, scattering rather focusing customer attention. Think how attention-grabbing a window with just a single item might be, for instance, a jewelry store with a single diamond necklace displayed.

While you don’t want to add too much, top window designers advise paying attention to layers of your display. The outer layer is the window glass, where you may want to attach written text or part of your design, such as snowflakes for a winter scene. The middle layer is the display itself, and the third layer is the backdrop, what you put behind your display as framing. Consider what you can do with each layer separately, and also how each layer fits into the overall picture.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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