Thought Leadership

Window Displays: How to Supercharge Your Visual Merchandising

Window Displays banner illustration

Window displays play a pivotal role in the success of a retail store. An eye-catching and well-designed display can capture customers’ attention, pique their curiosity, and encourage them to step inside. And, positive first impressions can lead to longer visits and increased chances of making a purchase.

Whether you’re new to planning window displays or looking for inspiration to refresh your stores, this blog has everything you need.

The importance of window displays

Your stores can communicate a wide range of messages through their windows, from the type of products you have available to your current offers and brand values. 

Research by POPAI revealed that 86% of shoppers think window posters did the best job of grabbing their attention, so it’s a critical component of your in-store marketing. 

But it’s not easy to consistently get them right. When asked what stood out the most in window displays, shoppers highlighted minimalistic displays, the use of bright colours and big imagery. However, the same report found that nearly a third of shoppers didn’t think retailers used their window spaces well!

Effective visual merchandising of a window display involves a combination of creativity, psychology, and a great understanding of your target audience. With a well-planned campaign and excellent execution across your store estate, captivating windows can skyrocket foot traffic and boost sales.

Now, where do you start?

Key Considerations When Planning Window Displays

Your Audience

Before starting any window design, consider your target customers. You want the display to resonate with their preferences, interests, and aspirations. Campaign management technology can help you to easily target different window display marketing materials to different locations based on the store’s local customers or surroundings for the best impact. You can read more about marketing to different audiences in our article Targeting retail customers in-store: it’s an age thing.

Your Competition

Is your main competitor doing something new and exciting in their windows? Are you making sure your stores are easy to differentiate? It’s a good idea to understand (if possible) what your competitors are doing before constructing your window displays. With the right technology, you can even get your stores to be reactive to nearby competitors’ marketing by updating the materials they present. Thereby ensuring the offers or visuals in your windows are more appealing and you always stay one step ahead.

The Available Space

Every store is unique, with different window quantities, displays and layouts. Creating a campaign that looks brilliant across all your stores is one of the most difficult aspects of planning window displays. 

Understanding your available space at each location is critical. And detailed store profiling and campaign visualisation tools are key here. These tools will enable you to see the different types of window sizes available, the fixtures and fittings in each store, and up-to-date measurements. This also means you don’t have to imagine how your window posters will look in a store with one window vs. seven! If you’re relying on spreadsheets and emails to manage your available spaces , you’ll likely end up producing materials that are unable to be displayed, wasting time, materials and budget. 

If you’re looking to better understand the capacity within each of your stores – and how you can use in-store spaces to unlock new revenues, check out our free ebook, Store Profiling: The Complete Guide here.

8 Steps to Building Your Window Displays

Here are 8 simple steps to building effective and impactful window displays:

1. Start with a clear theme

Whether you will be building your window displays around a seasonal event, a product launch, or specific promotions, identifying and detailing your theme and objectives is vital. We delve into this much deeper later on, but clarity is one of the most important elements. Your theme should be easily understood at a glance by passing foot traffic.

2. Incorporate local relevance

Incorporating local elements can help better connect with customers and the local community. Local relevance can be approached in two ways, shopper intelligence and content personalisation. Firstly, consider what customers will want to purchase based on local demographics and the store’s surroundings. Is it a city centre location or a suburban one? And secondly, how do you actually localise the marketing content you display? This could be personalising the window posters in your stores to feature town names or celebrating local events or charities in your displays.

While it may not be possible for every window display, localisation can make a big impact on campaign effectiveness.

3. Have a focal point

We all know the power of three in displays, so make sure you have a focal point in your windows that draws attention. This could be a marketing display centrepiece, a central product display, a prop or something interactive. Consider how it will look when approached head-on and from either side. 

4. Use different levels

Varying heights and depths instantly add visual interest. You can create layers by placing items at different distances from the window and even using your marketing materials. For example, by having window stickers positioned thoughtfully to overlap your window posters or other display elements. Careful consideration and detailed display instructions for your store teams are vital to get this right, or your windows could end up like a Picasso! You’ll also want to ensure the window is well-balanced by distributing products, props and marketing materials across the available display space. 

5. Leave room for space

Cluttered window displays are confusing and unappealing. When planning, you should maintain negative space, even in your smallest window displays. This allows shoppers to focus on the items or messaging you are using rather than get distracted by a sea of things!

6. Consider your colours

Different colours can be used strategically in your window displays to evoke certain emotions and actions in shoppers. Colours have a huge impact on initial impressions and have been found to influence 85% of shoppers’ purchase decisions! 

Most of us associate red with sales or promotions, and studies have shown that red, black, orange and blue attract impulse shoppers. Meanwhile, pinks and light blues tend to draw in traditional buyers! You can read more about harnessing impulse buying in stores here.

The colours you use in your window displays may be obvious as part of your theme, but consider their effect on your shoppers’ feelings and behaviour.

7. Demand action!

Whether it’s messaging to encourage shoppers to come inside and browse, a QR code to take shoppers somewhere online, details of an upcoming event or even an interactive element, your window displays should include something that demands passersby take action. Certain language is particularly effective at speeding up decision-making in shopping, you can read more about that in our article about Impulse Buying here.

8. Guarantee accurate installation

When you’ve designed exciting and engaging window displays that’ll work wonderfully across all your stores and their varying shapes and sizes, the final and extremely important step is installing them accurately. This comes down to three key things: timely delivery of the window display elements, clear and personalised store display instructions and instant campaign reporting and feedback. 

The best way to improve current window displays is to see how they look across your store estate in real time. And, the best way to improve future window campaigns is to have a visual record of exactly what you’ve displayed previously.

Colateral allows you to send store-specific display instructions and track campaign installation with bespoke questionnaires so your store teams can keep you in the loop every step of the way. And, you can request photos of every window display (if you want!) that can be instantly fed back into that store’s unique profile.

Finally, you’ll want to update and refresh your window displays on a regular basis to keep them relevant and engaging. Continuously assess the effectiveness of your displays and experiment with what resonates best with your target audience.

The Ultimate Guide to Window Display Themes & Ideas (with examples!)

Planning window display considerations? Check! Now onto the fun bit. 

Here, we’ve compiled some great theme ideas that you can use in isolation or together. And, some brilliant real-life examples thrown in for good measure:


Sustainability is a hot topic at the moment, and the demand for environmentally friendly and ethical practices in retail is only going to increase. Currently, 78% of global consumers feel that environmental sustainability is important, and 84% of customers say that poor environmental practices will alienate them from a brand or company. Use your window displays to showcase how your organisation is doing their bit, and, even better, how your customers benefit from any new sustainable practices.

Image credit: POPAI – New Look Store Window

Image credit: POPAI – Kiehls Store Window


Investing in the local community benefits your organisation by helping to build a positive reputation and customer loyalty. Tap into local communities by sharing window displays that resonate with local customers, from posters featuring charity fundraisers to promoting location-specific in-store events. 


Use your windows to show your customers how you’re giving back and how much you value them. This could be showing member offers, exclusive discounts, reward schemes or loyalty programs. 

Image credit: POPAI – Starbucks Store Window

Social Media & Online

Harness the power of social media in your displays – whether this is sharing ways for customers to interact with your social channels or the latest campaign, or piggybacking on the latest trends or viral content that features products you sell. It’s human nature to want to be “part of something” and so these types of displays work particularly well. Just like this one from Clarks…

Image credit: POPAI – Clarks Store Window

Seasonal / Events

There’s nothing more nostalgic for shoppers than wandering around their local town or city and seeing all the window displays for a specific holiday. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and even Black Friday all have the ability to spark memories that fill us with joy. Seasonal window displays are a great way to get creative, stand out from other shops on the high street and promote relevant merchandise to your customers.

Image credit: POPAI – Lakeland Store Window

Image credit: POPAI – Clintons Store Window


Informative and educational window display elements might not always be as creative as others but they are incredibly important. Advertising in-store services can help you to increase footfall and improve customer satisfaction. Window posters are a great way to update customers on your new or existing services, particularly when there is a lack of customer awareness about them. You could share that you have in-store cash machines, take-away coffee, recycling facilities, professional measuring and fitting or product trade-ins. Or make customers aware of alternative ways to shop, such as click and collect.

Image credit: POPAI – Waterstones Store Window

Sales, Offers & Promotions

Bold. Eye-catching. And often more simple than other window displays. Yes, the humble “Sale” displays can stop savvy bargain hunters in their tracks better than more elaborate displays! When displays are really simple, it’s vital that the posters are in perfect condition, displayed neatly and level and the windows are clean!

Image credit: POPAI – Next Store Window

Image credit: POPAI – White Stuff Store Window


Window displays focusing on your brand identity can amplify your brand’s message and boost recognition. You can use the space to share your values, vision, slogan and even history with your customers. This type of window display is a great opportunity to be creative and feature everything that captures the spirit of your brand. 

Partnerships / Collaborations

Maximise your customer reach by featuring your partnerships or collaborations in your window displays. You’ll not only appeal to your own customers, but also those of the brand, product or organisation that you have partnered with, and drive new footfall through your doors.

Image credit: POPAI – FATFACE Store Window


For added interest, incorporate interactive elements that allow viewers to engage with the window display. This could be as simple as a QR code or as creative as a game or sensory experience!

Image credit: POPAI – The Entertainer Store Window


Stock a product that has suddenly gone viral? Use it to your advantage and shout about it in your window display marketing materials.

Image credit: POPAI – The Works Store Window


Last but not least is building your windows around new product launches or a focus on a specific product or product category. These types of displays are particularly effective at reigniting interest in shoppers who pass by regularly. This Holland and Barrett display highlights new exclusive products, uses the power of three for the posters, as well as showcasing current offers and alternative ways to buy (click and collect).

Image credit: POPAI – Holland and Barrett Store Window

Get your window displays right, with Colateral

In summary, when done well, your store window displays can influence customer perceptions, drive foot traffic, boost sales, and create lasting brand impressions. Investing in well-designed displays can have a significant impact on the overall success of your stores. 

Campaign Management tools like Colateral can not only save you time and materials costs in the campaign planning process, but also make sure your stores are always making the best use of the window (and in-store!) spaces they have available. And, you get complete visibility across the estate so you know they are always having the right impact.

Want to learn more? Book your free in-store marketing consultation.

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