Window Displays & Visual Merchandising

Designed to attract customers to a store, window displays are described by Wikipedia as the dressing of larger windows in the front facade of a shop. 

The most basic meaning of a window display is that a window display is the arrangement of items in a way that, as Wikipedia rightly point out, attracts customers. 

The entire visual merchandising profession is based heavily on creating effective window displays, as it’s the first point a potential customer comes into contact with products. Therefore the importance of windows displays is paramount.


The importance of window displays

The importance of window displays couldn’t be more apparent, following reports of the high street delivering its worst performance in 12 years.

This isn’t to say that physical retail is ineffective, as brands such as Missguided are evolving from purely online to a combined approach that includes physical stores.

However it does mean that window displays have more work to do than ever before, convincing customers that they should buy the products on display before whipping out their phone to search for an alternative while they’re still in the store. A whopping 60% of shoppers do this according to the PEW Research Centre, which further highlights the importance of window displays.

So how are retailers using window displays to attract and convert shoppers? If we look at the Dalziel & Pow-designed Missguided flagship, they have expertly integrated social interaction into animated screens, which not only provided animation, but also provide relevant, up-to-date and contextual messaging for the customer.

Window Displays Missguided

Again highlighting the importance of window displays, VMSD featured Galeries Lafayette's 2017 Christmas window, which again bases itself on the principle of movement. Taking the story-telling element of advertising that John Lewis et al have made popular over the last decade, each of the stores 10 windows follow the same theme, playing a story out as shoppers continue the path around the store.

Galeries lafayette

Both examples illustrate the importance of window displays, and how they have evolved in recent years. Below we’ll take you through some of the more traditional formats that retailers large and small take advantage of.


The different types of window displays

Open back window display

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Often used in fashion retail, open back window displays don’t enclose the window space at all, with products on show (usually mannequins) whilst also allowing the shopper to see the rest of the store.

This can be particularly effective in well-designed store environments, as it provides a glimpse into the interior. However it also means that the store needs to be attractive at all times!


Closed Window Display

closed back window display.jpg

A closed window display blocks the rest of the store off from being viewed by shoppers, putting full focus on the products. This is becoming the norm throughout many areas of retail due to the nature of improved methods of illuminating graphics and capturing attention.


Partially Closed Windows


As the name suggests, retailers use this technique to keep the store environment on view for the shopper, alongside providing a small section of wall space that is usually used to provide focus on a featured product.


Island Window Display

Importance of window displays - River Island.png

Traditionally reserved for arcades and in-store displays, island window displays are visible from all sides which allows shoppers to see products in detail. There is a particularly emphasis on lighting with Island Window Displays, as this needs to overcome ambient lighting in the surrounding area.


Arcade Window Display

Arcade window display.JPG

Arcade windows are often pre-determined spaces, with an area either side of a door, that turns into a concave panel as customers reach the middle of your window. This is an area where visual merchandising teams need to be more creative, as displays are often governed by store or centre management, and have very limited space to work in.


Showcase & Elevated Window Display

Pandora Elevated Window Display by SFD.jpg

Usually reserved for jewellery and high-value items, showcase window displays often block the bottom third of the window off, in exchange for a table that displays the items above. This provides added storage for the business but also means graphics can be applied to direct attention upwards.


Corner window display

Corner window display.jpg

Corner windows offer retailers the most opportunity to communicate a story, as shoppers walk around the outside of the store. This can result in more imaginative displays, that keep attention focused on the window for more than just a momentary glance.


Shadowbox Window Display

shadw box window display.jpg

Shadowbox window displays are particularly useful for high-end jewellery, as they usually block out an entire window other than a particular section that has a featured product within it.


What you need to consider

Illumination is key. Effective lighting can direct attention, and also make products look better. Consider the ambient lighting surrounding your display, and what colour temperature you need to show your products in the best light - this could be individual spotlights, or full length illumination.

Get your messaging right. Often there are areas that need to communicate what you offer, such as the brands on the display, and sometimes a simple backdrop graphic is enough. It could be the case that this changes every season, which means you need a display system that can update as and when you need it to. Our LED Lightboxes are perfect for this. 


For more information on how to create the perfect window display, and how we can help, get in touch with our display specialist, Tom -, or phone 01932 854 140.