Understanding Window Displays In Retail

Pranil Chandra February 19, 2019

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Understanding Window Displays In Retail

For retailers, finding a way to get more people into the store is tricky. After all, if you could convince everyone who looks at your store to come in for a look, you have a great chance at converting some of those nosey prospects into customers. But, how do you do that? How do you get more people inside? How do you turn window shoppers into customers?

One of the most valuable tools in the visual merchandising ideas toolbox is the window display. These exterior/interior displays act as a retail shops “window to the world.” Enticing displays filled with props, lighting, and merchandise can convince customers to come inside and browse the store. But, setting up a window display isn’t as easy as shoving a bunch of products in your store window. It’s an art.

Table of Contents

What is a window display?

A window display is an exterior Visual Merchandising strategy that utilises the front retail store windows to showcase products and entice customers to come inside. In its most basic form, window displays are simply displays that are set up in your front windows. But, engaging, thoughtful, and unique window displays will combine props, merchandise, and lighting to achieve a purpose (i.e., showcase your latest, best-selling, or highest revenue products) and convince passers to come inside and shop.

Window displays should be used alongside interior visual merchandising strategies (footpaths, spacing, lighting, interior displays, etc.) to ultimately influence consumer purchase behaviour and boost your brand identity.

Why Use Window Displays?

Now that you know what a window display is, let’s go over why you should use one. After all, there are plenty of other visual merchandising strategies that you could utilise in your front space. Why not just spend your budget on the “perfect” sign? What’s the point of spending money on retail store windows?

As retail creeps (or landslides) into the digital age, drawing in customers is more difficult than ever. Not only are you competing with the visible sources that exist around your retail space and within your city, but you’re also competing with the invisible forces that exist only on the internet. Every person who passes your store is revenue waiting to happen and failing to capture a portion of those passers will close your doors. How do you stand out from the rest of the shops in your city? And, better yet, how do you stand out from all of those eCommerce stores that you can’t even see?

Would it be bold to say window displays is the answer to all of these solutions?Maybe. But, here’s the kicker. Window displays are the perfect recipe to disrupt the competition and breathe new life into your store. You have an appealing aesthetic component that will capture those who pass your shop, and you also play on one of the greatest strengths of physical retail locations — the ability to see, touch, and smell actual products.

People are more likely to enter your store and make a purchase if they simply see a well-designed window display. Combine this with the fact that 56% of shoppers would rather shop in-store because they can feel and touch the items, and you have a perfect recipe for success with window displays.

But, let’s clarify this a little — with some research.

Benefits of a Window Display

Let’s get straight to the point. What are the benefits of window displays? After all, no amount of thought leadership or conversation can replace cold, hard statistics. You want to know how window displays will impact your customers and your store. Well, let’s dive in.

6 Window Display Strategies to Steal

Now that you know what a window display is, let’s talk about how you can create an effective one. To do this, we’re going to look at some of the best window display campaigns that we’ve seen over the past few years. These are the ideas that you’ll want to steal, and they should highlight how powerful, creative, and imaginative window displays can be.

Louis Vuitton “Hot Air Balloons”

When Louis Vuitton’s Paris location created this window display in 2013, it served two purposes. First, it was an incredibly unique, thoughtful, and minimal window display that highlights one product incredibly well. Second, it served to promote a short film that Louis Vuitton was funding called ‘L’invitation au Voyage’ — based on the French poem by Charles Baudelaire.

There are two incredibly striking things about this display.

  1. The colour contrast is incredible, and all of the elements in the display blend together except the product, which stands out like a sore thumb.
  2. The display is extremely minimal, and there is plenty of empty space that helps elevate the message.

What should you steal?

There is plenty to steal from this campaign. But, we’ll focus on three things.

  1. Multipurpose your displays. If you can multipurpose your window displays, you can push customers towards multiple purchase decisions. Louis Vuitton was able to promo their film and their product.
  2. Use space wisely. We see far too many window displays that look like they were hit by a hurricane. Empty space can highlight your message and your products.
  3. Play with contrast. Finding a way to make your products pop in your window display is a surefire way to ensure that your customers notice your products.



Singling out a Hermes window display was difficult. Hermes is known for their imaginative visual merchandising, and they’ve nailed a few window displays over the years. But, ultimately, we chose the “The Eternal Jungle” from Hermes’ 2013.

There are quite a few things to digest in this display. The way that Hermes was able to blend the pure primal feels of the jungle with sophisticated luxury wear is spectacular. Of course, on the surface, this display is simply eye-catching. The strange, colourful, leaf-filled backdrop is speckled with playful creatures and hidden Hermes elements. The merchandise in this display isn’t hidden, it’s just incorporated so seamlessly that you barely register the product.

In fact, the toucan, monkey, and chameleon are all hand-crafted using leather from the Hermes workshop, while the Hermes bag floats gently at the top of the display.

Hermes Jungle Safari display made from Re-Board.

What should you steal?

Hermes does an incredible job of blending product, art, and brand identity into this window display. The whole thing screams luxury — as leather animals paint a colour-rich backdrop. At the same time, there’s a subtle hint of value in the display. Next time you’re looking at your window, think: “what could I do that screams me?”

You want to leverage your brand as part of your window displays identity. Sure, Hermes could have used plush toys instead of luxury leather for the animals, but that’s not who they are. Hermes is 100% luxury 100% of the time, and it shows.

Don’t just create a visually appealing window display; create a window display that’s reflective of your values and brand identity.


Calvin Klein underwear store front display.

Calvin Klein “Dual Tone”

The “Dual Tone” window display was an 8 window Calvin Klein display in La Rinascente Duomo in Milan that showcased Calvin Klein’s newest underwear release — Dual Tone.

Blue LED tubes ran throughout the windows, and each window displayed the underwear under heavy lights and LED spectrums. One of the best things about this campaign was the slogan “show yours. #mycalvin.” The slogan was situated in the middle window with two sculpted male models wearing underwear behind it.

This was an all-out product launch that leveraged heavy, attractive lighting and social marketing to push users to purchase, engage, and relay their products.

What should you steal?

Starting a #campaign with your window display is a great way to get passers involved in your social media campaign. Getting shoppers to naturally engage you on social media is tough, but your window display is a perfect place to prod them into sharing, consuming, and visualising content on social media.

Of course, the heavy lighting and harsh tones worked well with the overall “in-your-face” theme. But, the social sharing aspect of the window display was bold, prominent, and well-executed — and definitely something you should steal.

Holt Renfrew “Re.Solutions”

When it comes to bizarre and “artsy,” Holt Renfrew’s “Re.Solutions” takes the cake. Giant animal heads attached to mannequins that are drenched in Holt Renfrew fashion — that’s definitely bold.

But, it works! Each window display (+6 in total) tells a different story. In each one, groups of mannequins with animal heads sit in front of bold typography with the words “re.solution.” This play on New Year’s resolutions, asks shoppers what their New Year’s fashion resolutions are. For the giraffes, the resolution as “to hold your head high when wearing statement pieces” while the penguins were to “dress up more.”

What should you steal?

Be different! Remember, the more unique the window display is, the more likely customers are to notice it and take action. You can play off of seasons or different events, but using striking images and bold designs is a surefire way to capture attention. This is especially useful during launches or in areas with heavy physical competition.

Mannequins with giraffe heads.
Bright yellow clothing display.

Salvatore Ferragamo “Yellow”

Summer and the colour yellow are like two-peas-in-a-pod. Salvatore Ferragamo deeply understands that. Their summer window display leveraged bright yellow and crisp white colours to create a display that was striking, bold, and beautiful. There’s a couple of things that stand out about this display. The colours are fantastic, but choosing to use merchandise that was the same colour is a bold move. Well, it would be, if Salvatore Ferragamo didn’t use the yellow products on white stands and white products on yellow stands.

Not only does this window display use sharply contrasting colours, but it also uses same-colour products in a contrasting way. That’s clever.

What should you steal?

Colours impact on consumer purchasing behaviours is well noted, but so is its impact on mood. Pairing bright yellows and whites together in summer is a brilliant move. Since yellow is both strikingly noticeable and it’s been shown to increase feelings of warmth and joy, it’s a great way to put customers in a good mood while showing off your products. Don’t be afraid to get deep in colour psychology! It has an impact on your window displays and it can make-or-break your entire aesthetic.

Fissler “Kitchen Figures”

A common misconception is that window displays are only for fashion brands. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of brands that utilise window displays in creative and exciting ways that have nothing to do with fashion — brands like Fissler. During Ambiente Frankfurt Fair, Fissler created a window display featuring figures made entirely out of kitchenware. These life-like figures had moving LED lights and spinning cogs behind them, giving the entire window a feeling of life.

What should you steal?

You don’t have to sell clothes to sell products in a window! You can get ambitious with just about any product and create one-of-a-kind window displays that catch customers eyes and draw them into your store.

Tin statue installation with 4 characters

Final Thoughts

Window displays are one of the most powerful ways to draw in customers and push them to make a purchase. There’s a wealth of research that backs the effectiveness of window displays, and there are plenty of brands creating thoughtful and unique displays that retailers should be watching. Finding a way to stand out in the digital age is tough for retailers, especially when a significant portion of their competition exists online. Window displays play off of the strengths of retail display printing stores while helping them stand out from their physical competition.

If you’re looking for a spectacular window display, contact us.

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