Retail Marketing and Advertising: Window Display Store Designs

Image: Benetton Boutique, courtesy of artur84/
Christmas and Valentine's Day are just two examples of holidays that lend themselves to developing retail shop window displays. Design ideas are limitless.

During the Christmas holiday in the U.S., Macy's store window designs have become part of its brand, symbolizing the department store's innovation in retail display design. Window displays are a retailer's best marketing tool when properly designed and managed. They fall into two basic categories: look through windows and enclosed windows.

Enclosed Retail Window Display

Enclosed retail window displays are fully enclosed. They are walled on both sides with an enclosed back drop and a front glass display. As display designs, they are more similar to theater stages as they can be dramatized with spotlights and floodlights behind the glass to highlight display features. They are used primarily to present new retail merchandise in a more dramatic fashion. They are very effective for drawing foot traffic into a retail store.

The reduction of inventory display space should also be considered when developing new enclosed or look through retail window displays.

“[T]he street level is the most productive floor area in the store,” states Adolph Nova in his book Store Planning & Design (Lebhar-Friedman Books, 1977). “When the area devoted to show windows and their access corridors is deducted from the productive sales area, you reduce the sales dollar volume that this area could otherwise earn.”

Also, if not kept updated with new merchandise, an enclosed retail window display will look even more dated than look through retail display windows. This can negatively impact store branding.

Look Through Retail Display Windows

Like display windows, look through windows are primarily used to present new retail items. It, however, gives the viewer both the displayed merchandise as well as a significant view of the overall store interior. Look through retail displays are best for supermarkets, drug stores and other mass merchandise retailers with dense inventory. Multiple category inventory shops allow a street traffic peek of the diverse store merchandise.

The cost of regular maintenance and upkeep of either look through or enclosed retail window displays warrants inclusion in business operational budgets. Upkeep costs include hiring a professional retail window display designer. It will also include additional air-conditioning costs for the window display area, as heat build-up due to direct sun and lighting fixtures will increase electrical cooling costs. Awnings and tinted glass windows are often used to both reduce cooling costs and sun damage, which may also fade products from direct sun light.

Marketing and Advertising with Retail Shop Window Displays

Enclosed and look through display windows offer retailers a unique opportunity to market new merchandise and strengthen their retail brand. It provides potential customers from street traffic an opportunity to peek at store inventory. Outdated displays give the message of having old inventory -- so keep it fresh. Also, keep additional cooling and maintenance cost in mind. Consider hiring a professional window display designer, especially for special holiday promotions.

About the author

Vanessa Cross is a freelance writer who writes about international trade, business law and small business development issues. Copyright 2013.

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