10 Unique Window Displays To Inspire Retailers To Build Their Own Eye-Catching Design

10 Unique Window Displays To Inspire Retailers To Build Their Own Eye-Catching Design

Window display, retail design | Shopify Retail blogBrick-and-mortar retailers have just a few seconds to attract — and hold — a buyer’s eye so it’s crucial to get it right.

In New York City, Lord & Taylor estimates that a whopping 500,000 people walk past its windows each day while Macy's clocks in 10,000 people per hour.

To catch the attention of passersby, many of whom are distracted by their phones or other stores, a window display needs to be original and stand out from the crowd.

Your own store may not be situated in the middle of busy Manhattan, but each person that looks at your window is a potential sale, and first impressions count. According to NPD Group research, window displays influence purchases an average of 24% of the time.

Not only do attractive window displays help bring in new and existing customers, they allow retailers to increase foot traffic to the store, display new products, highlight promotions, and enhance its brand image.

“The landscape is shifting, people don’t shop in stores [like they used to],” says Joline Mujica, head of trends and tours at WindowsWear, a database of visual displays. In order for window displays to benefit brick mortar retailers, “it’s important they have a very specific vision for the people they are pandering to.”

Here are some eye-catching examples to help stir those creative juices:

Gucci

Gucci window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Augmented reality (AR) is increasingly being used in-store to enhance the shopping experience for buyers and expand a brand’s reach.

For its Hallucination campaign, Gucci extended the technology to its window displays by installing classic artworks re-imagined with characters dressed in designer clothing. What makes this display most unusual is that most of the mannequins were facing away from the window as if in an art gallery.

A scannable QR code on the glass breaks the so-called 4th wall by inviting passersby to download the Gucci app and experience an animated version of the art.

“It’s always to your benefit as a retailer to create an experience,” said Joline Mujica. “You want to create a moment that will show up well in a Boomerang, a Snap, or a video.”

For Gucci, this approach was very effective at engaging younger buyers through targeted marketing.

“This is really next-level innovation. Now that [buyers] have the app they will continue to receive Gucci ads and emails.”

What You Should Steal:

An experiential window brings products to life and attracts passersby to immediately interact with your brand. Inviting buyers to download an app on the spot encourages both in-store sales, future online purchases, and gives you access to these engaged customers for marketing purposes.

Leaves of Trees

Leaves of Trees window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Toronto apothecary Leaves of Trees recently unveiled a window display featuring oversized tubes of its skincare products suspended upside down with cascades of dried roses, grapefruit, and lavender.

The display is striking not only because of the scale of the props but also because it explicitly highlights the natural ingredients the retailer uses in its products.

Leaves of Trees’ unique window displays attract a lot of walk-ins, but this wasn’t always the case. When the shop opened in 2014, its displays featured colorful florals made from paper, but none of the brand’s actual products.

Founder Roohi Quereshi soon discovered that people were stopping to look but didn’t know what she was selling. The shop was mistaken for a restaurant, a juice bar, and even a pot dispensary.

“Since we started incorporating our products into the window and aligning that branding with promotions and social media strategy, we’ve seen an increase in walk-ins from our target customer,” said Quereshi. “And, almost every walk-in has led to a sale.”

What You Should Steal:

Creativity in any window display is important, but for smaller retailers, it’s crucial that products be clearly presented, not only so passersby know what you’re selling, but to target the right buyer.

Saks Fifth Avenue x Vetements

Saks x Vetements window display | Shopify Retail blog

Saks x Vetements window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Known for its elaborate window displays, Saks’ recent collaboration with French design collective Vetements did a complete about-turn by featuring nothing but a pile of old clothes.

An overt statement about sustainability and the rise of fast fashion, the pile was made up of donated clothes, out-of-season stock, and loose hangers. It grew bigger each day representing excess and consumerism in fashion.

“It was something vastly different than [Saks] had ever done,” said Mujica. “No one has ever put trash in a window and made a statement, and it was all about a good cause.”

While many walking by did a double take assuming the display was a work in progress or even a mistake, it enhanced Saks’ image as a retailer with a conscience.

What You Should Steal:

Highlighting a good cause in your window display can help boost your brand image.

Also, putting something in your window that is unexpected will grab the attention of passersby.

Alice + Olivia

Alice + Olivia window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Fashion retailer Alice + Olivia highlighted its playful side in New York by setting mannequins in front of a giant backdrop of sugary cereals and salty snacks.

The goal of this window display wasn’t so much to attract a new audience to the brand, but to tap into the nostalgia of its existing young buyers who grew up eating Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops.

According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people are more likely to buy something when they’re feeling nostalgic. To tie in the product with the display, the clothes were carefully curated to match the color grading of the boxes behind.

“It’s definitely not high fashion,” said Julica. “But Alice + Olivia knows its [buyer]. This window display makes them think of childhood.”

By combining nostalgia with bright colors, the Alice + Olivia window invokes a positive emotional experience for buyers. The overall effect is poppy, fresh, and fun.

What You Should Steal:

A bright and well-lit window display is always eye-catching, especially at night. “By lighting it properly you avoid negative shadows that can make garments look small or dowdy,” advises Joline Mujica of WindowsWear.

Bergdorf Goodman

Bergdorf window display | Shopify Retial blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

In order to woo and impress its wealthy buyers during the holiday season, luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman spends upwards of six figures on its window displays.

One of Bergdorf’s most spectacular concepts featured one million hand-glued Swarovski crystals and took nine months to build. There was a genuine crystal ball and the fortune-teller mannequin wore custom-made, one-of-a-kind couture pieces that were later sold at auction.

While Bergdorf’s resources exceed the budget of most high-street retailers, this window display makes a very strong statement about its brand and the high end products it sells.

“You would never see fast fashion in a Bergdorf window. It’s not their customer,” said Mujica. “No one has done anything like this before or since. It took everyone’s breath away.”

What Your Should Steal:

Putting extra resources into your window display at certain times of year can really pay off. Holiday windows attract extra foot traffic, and, according to NPD research, holiday spending leads to a whopping 25% of a retailer’s annual sales.

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany's window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Tiffany has been famous for its window displays ever since it was immortalized in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. So iconic is the retailer’s window that several people have chosen the location to pop the question.

“No one does a window better than Tiffany,” said Mujica. “They are true storytellers and their windows literally dazzle.”

Most notable about the retailer’s window displays is their simplicity. Unlike Bergdorf Goodman’s, whose windows are a targeted celebration of decadence, Tiffany’s creative is often quite minimal.

One recent window featured nothing but seven mousetraps and a mouse holding a canary yellow diamond. Set against the brand’s signature blue background, it showcased just a single item.

What You Should Steal:

While it can be tempting to fill up a window to maximize the space, cramming too many items into a display can devalue your products by making them look cluttered. Focusing only on one item communicates to passersby that it’s special.

Barneys New York

Barneys window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Vying for attention among many other glitzy holiday windows, Barneys recently chose to feature live humans instead of mannequins.

Carvers from Japan’s Okamato Studio sculpted holiday-themed blocks of ice while wearing designer jumpsuits, gloves, and scarves. The live-action demonstration set to music not only highlighted products found in-store but grabbed shoppers’ attention for an extended period of time. While most passersby spend at most 45 seconds looking at a holiday display, many here stopped for up to 15 minutes.

“This window created exclusive content that people then uploaded to Snapchat and Facebook Live,” said Joline Mujica. “Putting people in a window is risky, but by creating a one of kind experience it created huge engagement.”

What You Should Steal:

A creative window display that is completely different from what your competitors are doing not only attracts eyeballs on the street, but also extends the reach of your content through social media sharing.

Fendi

Fendi window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Taking high-value items and putting them out of context in a window display can really amplify a product.

This was the approach taken by iconic Italian fashion house Fendi when it placed expensive leather handbags inside custom vending machines at its downtown New York store. The buttons on the machines spelled ‘Fendi’ and featured the year the company was founded.

The juxtaposition of high with low end “made the brand seem more approachable to passersby,” said Mujica. “It drew shoppers into the store like a carnival game.”

The ‘Fendi-ing machine’ concept appeared in its stores around the world. The result? Photos were widely shared by fashion bloggers and it helped the luxury brand appeal to a younger demographic.

What You Should Steal:

Knowing exactly who you want to attract into your store can help a retailer target its creative specifically to that buyer. “If you’re too vague, people won’t understand,” says Mujica.

Type Books

Type window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

Independent bookstore Type has become famous in Toronto for its charming and poppy window displays.

Recent themes have included under the sea, typography, and an entire window dedicated to a single children’s book. Each theme is the brainchild of ‘craftician’ Kalpna Patel who creates much of her work using simply paper and glue.

A recent winter window display paid homage to Hygge, the Danish word for comfort, and featured books on crafting and cooking with each book nestled inside Nordic-style houses.

Created on a modest budget, Type’s unique window displays consistently lead to an increase in foot traffic. There’s no couture or Swarovski crystal, but by honing in on a specific theme, Type books attracts the attention of both new and existing customers.

In fact, so many people enter the store asking about a specific title that the retailer set up a special display inside featuring all the books found in the window.

What You Should Steal:

An innovative window display doesn’t have to cost a lot to create, nor does it need to be complicated. “I’ve seen stunning windows that come in at $300,” says Mujica. “Paper is the best medium to work with because it’s so cheap and versatile.”

Hermès

Hermes window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image: WindowsWear.com

When designing a window display around small accessories, most retailers will make the product the focus.

Hermès did the exact opposite in one of its stores perching silk scarves around an oversized juice cup with a giant straw. By making the art the central point of this window, Hermès ensured an eye-grabbing experience in which the product was almost an afterthought.

The prominence of the color orange ties in well with the brand’s signature color. In fact, WindowsWear.com was so impressed with this display that they named it Best Orange Window of 2017.

What You Should Steal:

Color is a key component of visual merchandising and can help influence buyer behavior. If you’re looking primarily to attract customers, using red and orange in your window display will draw the attention of passersby.

Creating Your Own Eye-Catching Window Display

While there’s no question that brick-and-mortar retailers face stiff competition for sales, a targeted and well-appointed window display can help sell your brand, inspire discussion, and even entertain. Catching the attention of potential buyers with an innovative theme can have a huge impact on foot traffic, brand image and, ultimately, sales.

Photo of Marianne Wisenthal

About the Author

Marianne is a copywriter and content strategist who regularly works with Toronto-based B2C companies and Canadian media giants like Bell Media, Corus Entertainment, CBC, and Glacier Media. When not wrangling words with aplomb, you can find her shopping local or singing show tunes with her community choir.

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