What is a Window Display? Explanation, Benefit, 9 Facts

A window display is the first impression a customer receives of a company. The customer will leave if the window display is unattractive or poorly constructed. The article that follows will provide the most specific information about it. 

What is a Window Display?

A window display is a grouping of merchandise displayed in a storefront window. The storefront section of stores with street access has an exterior door and typically one or two windows.

Typically, stores within a shopping mall have at least one clear wall or a solid wall with a display window that faces the interior of the mall.

What is a Window Display?

A shopping mall can be defined as one or more buildings containing individual retail units. Displaying store merchandise is known as visual merchandising, and window displays show potential customers items that are for sale inside the store, with the hope that they will purchase these and other items.

History Of Window Display

Late in the eighteenth century, the first storefront display windows were installed in London, where conspicuous consumption was on the rise. At his tailoring shop in Charing Cross, Francis Place was one of the first to implement this new retailing technique by installing large plate glass windows.

Although this practice was condemned by many, he defended it in his memoirs, claiming that he “sold more goods from the window than paid journeymen’s wages and housekeeping expenses. Typically, boutique storefront windows feature dressed mannequins.

Benefits of window displays

Window displays can help your store increase foot traffic and brand recognition, highlight products and promotions, and stand out from the competition.

Increase foot traffic and brand awareness

According to research, window displays impact a customer’s decision to enter a store, thereby increasing foot traffic.

Plus, according to Nicole Haddad, co-owner and designer of the Philadelphia-based sustainable fashion brand Lobo Mau, they are an excellent way to promote your brand.

“Window displays are a means of involving the community and the neighborhood. “They are also promoting our brand and aesthetic,” Haddad explains.

“We painted a mural on the outside of the store that looks like we splashed paint splatter all over the building. It’s our way to draw in the customer—to get them to take a closer look so that they want to check out the store on the inside.”

Highlight products

Displays in the storefront windows provide a sneak peek of the merchandise within. You can use them to entice customers with products they will enjoy and to promote new arrivals, limited-edition products, and even holiday gifts.

What is a Window Display?

Promote offers or sales

Utilize windows to promote sales to customers. If you’ve ever entered a store after seeing a large “SALE” sign in the window, you understand the effectiveness of this strategy. Increase the effectiveness of your displays by coordinating in-store promotions with online promotions.

Stand out from the competition

Suppose there are two shoe stores in your neighborhood whose windows display identical shoes. Store A displays the shoes in an inventive manner, whereas Store B places each pair atop its box.

Which store, in your opinion, draws the most customers? Probably Store A. Putting forth an effort with your window displays will set you apart from the local competition.

Types of window displays

Here are the most common types of window displays, as well as the benefits and challenges associated with each.

Open window displays

In an open display, there is no partition between the window and the rest of the store.

They are excellent for displaying clothing on mannequins and body forms and displaying the interior design of your store. Open window displays are however revealing, making it difficult to conceal fixture accessories such as wires.

Closed window displays

Closed window displays are separated from the store floor by a wall or backdrop. These displays highlight the products on display by minimizing distractions within the store.

However, they prevent natural light from entering your shop, so you will need to compensate with ample floor lighting.

Shadowbox window displays

Shadowboxes are typically used to display jewelry, shoes, or cosmetics that are small and intricate. Typically, only one or two people can view them at the same time.

Corner window displays

Corner window displays are created when two windows meet in a corner to form a large, box-like display, as the name suggests. Corners are ideal for attracting customers from all directions and displaying merchandise from multiple sides.

What is a Window Display?

However, arranging products in these displays can be challenging because they must be appealing from multiple perspectives.

How to create window displays in 8 steps

Setting up your first storefront window display may seem daunting. Creating a compelling store window display does not require a background in design. Even if you lack the funds to hire an expert in visual merchandising, it is possible to create your own display.

Here, we’ll assist you in overcoming your apprehensions so that you can master the art of creating memorable window displays. We’ll walk you through the process of creating a storefront window display, as well as provide some inspiration.

Make merchandising choices with assurance

Use Shopify’s analytics and reporting to inform your merchandising decisions across all of your store locations. Identify seasonal trends, determine which products require promotion, evaluate the impact of your promotions on product sales, and much more.

1. Assemble your retail window display tool box

Before you begin generating intricate ideas for your first retail window display, let’s ensure that we’ve provided you with the tools you need to succeed. In other words, you don’t want to be in the middle of a project when you realize you’re missing a measuring tape or another essential tool.

Therefore, here are the majority of the fundamental elements you’ll need to get started:

  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Two-sided tape
  • Hammer and nails
  • Utility knife
  • Glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Screwdriver and screws
  • Pen, pencil, marker, and notepad
  • Props (any non-merchandise items)

Depending on the design of your store window display, you may require additional supplies to complete the task. However, these tools will keep the ball rolling and can serve as a shopping list to get your display design off the ground.

What is a Window Display?

2. Start with a story based on a theme

When planning a store window display, it is best to begin with a pen and paper. Before sketching out your window display concepts, you should first create a narrative based on a theme.

Yes, the design of your window display should tell at least a basic story. It has been demonstrated that storytelling can serve as a strategic business instrument.

It is beneficial to start with a theme and then use your storytelling skills to make it more complex.

For example:

  • Instead of “Christmas,” think “Nutcracker” (psst: here are some Christmas window display ideas if you’re looking for holiday inspiration!)
  • Instead of “Halloween,” think “Sleepy Hollow”
  • Instead of “Valentine,” think “Cupid’s Mischievousness”
  • Instead of “Thanksgiving,” think “Dressing Up a Turkey”

3. Create a focal point for the store window display

Once you have a rough draft that includes a story based on a theme, step outside and examine your window from the street.

This will help you determine where the focal point of your composition should be. The focal point is where you want potential customers to first look and concentrate their attention. Your display’s focal point should be large enough to attract shoppers from across the street.

Consider the product arrangement in relation to your focal point. Will your products be arranged on shelves or wires around the central point? Or you could arrange them in a pyramid. Determine the optimal configuration for your window display by experimenting with various layouts.

4. Be bold in every way

Your customers, like the rest of society, have an attention span of approximately one millisecond. You can bet that the majority of pedestrians who pass by your store will be conversing with friends, texting, or walking their dogs.

Therefore, you will need to pull out all the stops to get their attention. At the very least, you can create a store window display that customers will want to photograph and share with the world using their smartphones.

Don’t be boring when designing your storefront’s display windows. Be daring with colors, forms, and objects. Choose more eye-catching hues, such as fuchsia, orange, or electric blue, rather than standard hues. Remember to use your best judgment and maintain brand consistency in all actions.

Props are also a great way to think unconventionally, given that your local art supply store likely carries a variety of art materials. Consider slicing foam boards and making papier-mache props, as well as anything else you believe would be suitable for your brand and store.

What is a Window Display?

5. Keep your retail window displays simple

With so many window display ideas at your disposal, it’s easy to overcomplicate your display. However, an excessive amount of clutter is more likely to deter and overwhelm potential passersby than to attract their attention. If you attempt to do too much, your display will become cluttered and unfocused.

Always keep your end goal in mind: ultimately, you want to draw attention to your products and help customers quickly comprehend why they are grouped together. This also includes maintaining a clutter-free display and being able to explain why each component is included.

6. Balance is key

There will be small and large objects, dark and light colors, lights and shadows, and so forth, when designing a display. It is essential to achieve a pleasing aesthetic by balancing the various elements you will employ.

Generally, you should position larger, darker objects near the bottom and lighter, more vibrant objects near the top. This configuration will prevent the display from appearing top-heavy.

Similarly, a window display is unbalanced if all the large items are placed on one side and all the small items on the other. Imagine you are balancing objects on a scale, which entails tasks such as placing a large object on one side and numerous smaller objects on the other.

Trust your judgment and gain an understanding of what emotion your display is evoking. A balanced display is more likely to evoke feelings of happiness, excitement, and joy, whereas an unbalanced display may indicate anxiety or instability.

7. Pay attention to lighting

When it comes to creating an effective window display, lighting is frequently an afterthought or something to consider if you have “extra costs” in your budget. However, lighting can be an important factor in attracting people’s attention to your display.

The lighting in your store window display can evoke emotions, highlight certain products over others, and set a dramatic tone. Strategic lighting can assist you in achieving the ideal focal point and directing the attention of onlookers.

We do not recommend lighting displays from above, as this can result in unattractive, harsh shadows. Consider instead illuminating displays from the sides and front. This technique will highlight the display’s 3D capabilities. Additionally, when light is coming from a variety of angles, you can have a lot of fun.

8. Take a final look at your retail window display

Examine your window display from every vantage point once you’ve arranged all of the elements. Rarely will a person notice a display only when they are directly in front of it.

Examine your focal point, the visibility of your signage or calls to action, and the overall balance by approaching it from various directions.

If you are pleased with the results, your store window display is complete.

Window display tips

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your display, here are a few suggestions for taking it to the next level.

Define your target audience

Your target market will influence the products you choose to display, the colors you employ, and the narratives you tell in your storefront windows. Keep your ideal customer front and center in your strategy.

When you design your storefront windows with a specific audience in mind, you will attract those individuals and make them eager to shop with you. You will end up watering down your design and appealing to no one if you attempt to create a display that is appealing to everyone.

Consider eyelines and vantage points

It is a well-known fact that cereals for children are displayed on lower shelves and cereals for adults are displayed on higher shelves in grocery stores. Why? Because this is where these customers’ eyelines land, and thus where they will focus their attention.

What is a Window Display?

Consider window shoppers’ viewing angles when designing external displays. If you own a children’s clothing boutique, for instance, you could display products that would appeal to children, such as toys, at a height that allows them to see them, while displaying more practical items at the level of parents’ eyes.

Remember that you are designing a 3D display, not a flat one, in addition to eyelines. Ensure that products and props can be viewed and appear attractive from a variety of angles.

Keep window displays fresh

Change your displays frequently to indicate to customers who frequently pass by that it is time for them to return.

Leverage technology

According to McKinsey, technology will enable retailers to double their profits. Interactive technologies such as augmented reality, touchscreens, and QR codes give the phrase “window shopping” a new meaning. Utilize them to attract passersby and sway their purchasing decisions.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) technology improves the appearance of real-world objects and environments by superimposing virtual objects on top of them. AR enables consumers to virtually try on cosmetics and jewelry, among other items. Even when your store is closed, this technology allows customers to make purchasing decisions.


When placed in a storefront window, touchscreens provide customers with additional information about products on and off display.

They also make it simple to entice window shoppers with coupons in exchange for their contact information, thereby opting them into your email marketing campaigns.

Touchscreens are ideal for stores that sell expensive, high-consideration items (e.g., electronics, furniture, and automobiles) because they can be used to display product specifications and details.

In the real estate industry, they are commonly used to display listings that are not featured on the primary display.

QR codes

Quick response (QR) codes are barcodes that, when scanned with a smartphone, provide a link, phone number, SMS, or plain text message. Follow the example of Rose City Goods and include links to your ecommerce website, product pages, and more in your window display.

When your store is closed, QR codes make it easy for window shoppers to make purchases. In addition, they are inexpensive and simple to implement with a QR code generator.

12 inspiring window display ideas and examples

Need some ideas for your own window display before you begin? Here are some captivating examples to spark your imagination.

1. Gucci

Retailers are utilizing augmented reality (AR) to improve the shopping experience and expand their brand’s reach.

What is a Window Display?

For its Hallucination campaign, Gucci installed reimagined versions of classic artworks featuring characters wearing designer clothing in its storefront windows. Most of the mannequins are facing away from the window, as if they were in a museum.

A scannable QR code on the glass breaks the fourth wall by encouraging passersby to download the Gucci app and view an animated version of the artwork.

It’s always to your benefit as a retailer to create an experience. You want to create a moment that will show up well in an [Instagram Story], a Snap, or a video.

Joline Mujica, WindowsWear

This strategy was highly effective for Gucci in attracting younger buyers via targeted marketing.

“This truly represents cutting-edge innovation. “Now that [buyers] have the application, they will continue to receive Gucci advertisements and emails,” Mujica explains.

What you should steal

An experiential window brings products to life and entices onlookers to interact with your brand immediately. Inviting buyers to download an app on the spot increases in-store sales and future online purchases, as well as provides access to these engaged customers for marketing purposes.

2. Leaves of Trees

The Toronto apothecary Leaves of Trees unveiled a window display featuring oversized tubes of its skin care products suspended upside down, from which dried roses, grapefruit, and lavender “poured.”

The display is striking not only because of the size of the props, but also because it emphasizes the retailer’s use of natural ingredients.

The unique window displays of Leaves of Trees attract a large number of walk-in customers, but this wasn’t always the case. When the store opened in 2014, its displays featured paper flowers, but no actual merchandise.

Roohi Quereshi, the company’s founder, quickly realized that people were stopping to look but were unaware of what she was selling. The store was misidentified as a restaurant, juice bar, and even a marijuana 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. And, almost every walk-in has led to a sale.

Roohi Quereshi, Founder, Leaves of Trees

What you should steal

Creativity is important in any window display, but for smaller retailers, it’s crucial that products are presented clearly, not only so passersby can see what you’re selling, but also to attract the appropriate buyer.

3. Saks Fifth Avenue x Vetements

Saks, renowned for its elaborate window displays, collaborated with the French design collective Vetements to display nothing but a pile of worn-out clothing.

What is a Window Display?

The heap consisted of donated clothing, out-of-season stock, and loose hangers, making an overt statement about the rise of sustainable retail and fast fashion. It grew each day as a symbol of excess and consumerism in fashion.

Mujica states, “It was something vastly different than anything [Saks] had ever done before.” No one has ever placed garbage in a window to make a political statement for a good cause.

It enhanced Saks’ reputation as a retailer with a conscience, as many passersby mistook the display for a work in progress or even a mistake.

What you should steal

Boosting your brand’s image by highlighting a worthy cause in your window display. In addition, placing an unexpected item in your window will attract the attention of passing customers.

4. Alice + Olivia

In New York, fashion retailer Alice + Olivia displayed its playful side by placing mannequins in front of a massive backdrop of cereals and snacks.

This window display was intended to appeal to the nostalgia of the brand’s existing young customers who grew up eating Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops, rather than to attract a new audience.

According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, nostalgic individuals are more likely to spend more money. To integrate the product with the display, the clothes were carefully selected to match the color gradient of the boxes in the background.

It’s definitely not high fashion, but Alice + Olivia knows its [customers]. This window display makes them think of childhood.

Joline Mujica, WindowsWear

By combining nostalgia and vibrant hues, the Alice + Olivia window displays evokes a positive emotional response from potential customers. The overall effect is cheerful, lively, and vibrant.

What you should steal

Even at night, a bright and well-lit window display is always captivating. Mujica advises, “By lighting it correctly, you can avoid negative shadows that can make garments appear small or dowdy.”

5. Bergdorf Goodman

During the holiday season, the upscale department store Bergdorf Goodman spends more than six figures on its window displays in order to attract and impress its wealthy customers.

It took nine months to construct one of Bergdorf’s most spectacular designs, which featured one million hand-glued Swarovski crystals. The fortune-teller mannequin wore custom-made, one-of-a-kind couture pieces that were subsequently auctioned off.

This window display makes a very powerful statement about Bergdorf’s brand and the luxury goods it sells, despite the fact that its budget exceeds that of most high-street retailers.

“Fast fashion would never be displayed in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman. It is not their client,” Mujica explains. “No one before or since has ever done anything similar. It left everyone breathless.”

What you should steal

At certain times of the year, it can be very profitable to invest additional resources in your storefront’s window displays. According to NRF research, holiday spending has reached an all-time high, and holiday windows attract more foot traffic than ever before.

6. Tiffany & Co.

Since the brand was immortalized in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co. has become renowned for its window displays. Several individuals have chosen the storefront’s window to pop the question because it is so recognizable.

Mujica asserts that no one does windows better than Tiffany. They are authentic storytellers, and their windows literally sparkle.

The window displays of the retailer are most notable for their simplicity. In contrast to Bergdorf Goodman, whose windows are a deliberate celebration of opulence, Tiffany’s creativity tends to be quite restrained.

A recent display window consisted solely of seven mousetraps and a mouse holding a canary-yellow diamond. It displayed a single item against the brand’s signature blue background.

What you should steal

While it may be tempting to fill a window to maximize space, displaying too many items can devalue your products by making them appear cluttered. Focusing solely on one item conveys to passersby that it is unique.

7. Barneys New York

Barneys once featured real people in its holiday windows instead of mannequins to compete with other glitzy displays.

While wearing designer jumpsuits, gloves, and scarves, Okamato Studio carvers carved holiday-themed ice blocks. The live-action demonstration set to music not only highlighted in-store products, but also captivated shoppers for an extended period.

What is a Window Display?

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

Joline Mujica, WindowsWear

What you should steal

A creative window display that is completely different from what your competitors are doing not only attracts passersby’s attention, but also increases the reach of your content via social media sharing.

8. Fendi

Putting high-value items in an out-of-context window display can significantly enhance a product.

This was the strategy employed by the renowned Italian fashion house Fendi when it placed expensive leather handbags in vending machines at its New York City store. The buttons on the machines spelled out “Fendi” and displayed the founding year of the company.

According to Mujica, the juxtaposition of expensive and inexpensive items made the brand appear more approachable to passersby. “Like a carnival game, it drew customers into the store.”

The concept of a “Fendi-ing machine” appeared in its stores worldwide. What happened? The luxury brand was able to appeal to a younger demographic as a result of the widespread sharing of photographs by fashion bloggers.

What you should steal

Knowing precisely who you wish to attract to your store enables a retailer to tailor its creative to that buyer.

Mujica states, “If you’re too vague, people won’t understand you.”

9. TYPE Books

Toronto’s independent bookstore TYPE has become renowned for its charming and colorful window displays.

Under-the-sea, typography, and an entire window devoted to a single children’s book are examples of past themes. Each theme was conceived by “craftician” Kalpna Patel, who creates the majority of her work using only paper and glue.

One winter window display paid homage to hygge, the Danish word for coziness, by showcasing crafting and cooking books nestled in Nordic-style houses.

Unique window displays created on a limited budget consistently increase foot traffic at TYPE. Without couture or Swarovski crystals, TYPE Books attracts both new and returning customers by focusing on a particular theme.

In fact, so many customers enter the store inquiring about a specific title that the retailer has set up a special display featuring all the books from the window inside the store.

What you should steal

A creative window display does not need to be expensive or difficult to create.

I’ve seen stunning windows that come in at $300. Paper is the best medium to work with because it’s so cheap and versatile.

Joline Mujica, WindowsWear

10. Hermès

When designing window displays for small accessories, most retailers place the emphasis on the merchandise.

In one of its stores, Hermès did the exact opposite, arranging silk scarves around an oversized juice cup with a giant straw. By making the art the focal point of this window display, Hermès ensured that the product was almost incidental to the experience.

Orange’s prominence corresponds well with the brand’s signature color. In fact, WindowsWear was so impressed by this display that it awarded it the title of 2017’s Best Orange Window.

What you should steal

Color is a crucial aspect of visual merchandising and has the ability to influence buyer behavior. If you are primarily interested in attracting customers, using red and orange in your window display will attract the attention of passing customers.

11. Lobo Mau

Lobo Mau, a sustainable fashion brand based in Philadelphia, could teach a master class on how to attract passersby to shop window displays.

What is a Window Display?

“When the pandemic forced all non-essential businesses in Philadelphia to close, we had to find a way to keep people interested in our brand and make it easy for them to shop,” says co-owner and designer Nicole Haddad.

Co-owner and chief executive officer Jordan Haddad came up with the idea to use QR codes in our storefront windows so that customers can view the merchandise and then order it directly from the website.

I pushed all the products in the store to the four windows and created small QR codes stuck directly onto the inside of the glass. Customers only had to scan the QR codes and they could purchase the product in the window and also schedule a local pick up or free shipping.

Nicole Haddad, Co-owner, Lobo Mau

Lobo Mau’s strategic corner location allows it to capture foot traffic from two streets, resulting in a greater amount of window space.

“Our store is on a corner and has four large windows. “It’s prime window display real estate,” says Nicole. “When designing the store, we asked the architects to create modular displays that could be updated and rearranged frequently.

One week, we could hang a sweatshirt in the window, and the following week, we could fill the window with shelves to display our ceramics.”

What you should steal

Label every item in your display with a QR code. Connect the QR codes to the relevant product pages to increase sales throughout the day.

12. UrbanGlass

Brooklyn-based UrbanGlass is a nonprofit organization devoted to glass arts. Its window displays serve a dual function.

The first objective is to inform the public about the displayed artwork.

Meg Wachs, Art Center Program Manager, states, “We began using QR codes [in our windows] to provide visitors with context for our exhibitions.” Even if our space is closed during the hours in which they may be passing, we want to give passersby a chance to learn about the work on display.

The second goal is to increase shop sales.

“Due to COVID-19, we had a gap in our Window Gallery exhibition calendar during the holidays,” Wachs explains. “It seemed optimal to optimize the situation by adjusting the artwork on display to retail products featured in our holiday gift guide.”

Additionally, Wachs configured “the QR [code] to link to our [digital] Holiday Gift Guide. Even within a retail space, we strive to educate the public beyond their current level of glass knowledge.

What you should steal

In addition to selling products, use your window display to educate customers, as UrbanGlass has done. You could, for instance, connect your QR codes to landing pages that explain the process behind the creation of your products.

Retail Window Display Techniques To Maximize Effactiveness

Consider using these techniques to create an attractive window display:

  • Themed Display: Instead of putting a few mannequins in your window, create a themed display. With a theme or a story, customers can connect with the products and make them wonder which of them they may enjoy.
  • Incorporate Graphics: Depending on the store’s budget, investing in a television screen or other graphics can allow for expanded storytelling. The extra detail may aid in catching passersby’s eyes.
  • Precise Lighting: Rather than flood the products with light, purposefully positioned lighting will help highlight the products being pushed in the moment, as well as add an extra dynamic to the display to make it more attractive to a customer.
  • Props: These can often enhance storytelling and make the display into a feature with which customers can connect and engage. Mannequins are a common display prop; however, the more creative and original a display, the more likely it will be to gain customer interest.
  • Maintain Balance: As there can be too much of a good thing, the display should be carefully balanced to maximize its visual appeal. A display that is busy with many focal points can overwhelm a customer until they lose interest.
  • Change Regularly: To prevent the display from becoming stagnant and allowing for the opportunity to engage with customers who may not have been convinced by a previous display, window displays should be adjusted and changed regularly.

Window displays are the first opportunity for a store to attract customers and gain business. The display must be powerful and persuasive enough to convince a customer to enter the store within the few seconds it takes for them to pass by the store.

There are a number of methods that can be utilized to improve a display and increase its likelihood of success. With proper attention to detail, a window display can enhance not only the store’s aesthetic appeal but also its financial success.

Draw in customers with eye-catching window displays

Window displays are an effective marketing tool. They attract customers, maintain their interest, and aid in sales initiation. By using creativity and technology to enhance your displays, you will convert passersby into customers.


A window display is any type of visual merchandising intended for storefront windows. These displays typically consist of product models, window graphics, or other products.

They may be simple and low-tech, such as an attractive price tag on the window, or very high-tech, such as a computer-controlled display that indicates stock availability and pricing.

Many companies choose to sell their products through the medium of a window display because it costs less than setting up a showroom and because it allows them to reach potential customers.

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