How To Create Effective Store Window Displays

window-displayCreative window displays are an ideal way to set your business apart from the competition. Windows are the billboard of your store, according to Tony Camilletti, of store-design firm JGA Inc. in Southfield. They’re a place to emphasize your unique identity, advertise merchandise and catch the attention of shoppers.

So how do you make a traffic-stopping display? The possible subjects are endless, but the key is to focus on a product or theme, not simply exhibit a collection of items.

Following basic design principles will enhance your displays. Here’s some advice from professionals like Camilletti, Denise Schroeder of Image Accomplice in Harrison Township, and freelance window dresser Kim Slocum from Pinckney:

  • Keep it simple. Don’t try to put in everything at once.
  • Keep it clean.
  • Change displays frequently to keep the look fresh.
  • Bright lighting is crucial, both during the day and at night. Use lights to highlight individual items or signs. (Movable track lights work well.)
  • Use repetition of shapes and colors to attract attention.
  • Cluster items in groups of three or five. Odd numbers are most pleasing to the eye.
  • Vary height and depth of items to carry the eye throughout the display. A pyramid or triangle is a pleasing shape.
  • Use motion to catch the customer’s eye.
  • Use light, bright colors.
  • Continue the theme of the window display with other displays inside the store.

You may want to consider hiring a professional freelance window designer, consulting with a store design firm or getting advice from visual merchandising personnel at local department stores. Other resources include magazines such as Display and Design Ideas (, Views & Reviews ( and Visual Merchandising & Store Design (, as well as books like Martin Pegler’s Store Windows No. 11 and Mary Portas’ Windows: The Art of Retail Display.


You’ll find that the time and money you put into having the best windows on the block are well worth the investment.


  • Star-y night – with shooting stars, planets, shiny material, galaxy
  • Forgotten Garden– with old pillars, statues, moss, plants, trellis, water bucket, birds, vines, trees, bushes
  • 80’s Prom – with Lace, gold lame,  tuxedos, corsages, puffy dress
  • This old house – crackled paint shingles, old window panes hanging from ceiling, ladders
  • Boudoir – dresser with stockings hanging out, old perfume bottles, big mirrors, plush carpet with big pillows
  • Road trip – maps, air freshners in a row,  pine cones
  • Pop art– huge paintings of vintage classic logos, penquin, lacoste, levis, wrangler
  • Urban loft – painted red brick background
  • Sequins – strands hanging, disco balls, scatted on the floor, glitter backdrop
  • In the making– sewing patterns on manikins,  fabric draped
  • Unconventional – toilet with plant inside
  • House party– rows of party cups,


Store Design
– Exteriors
a) Store Front – Facade
b) Marquees
c) Display Windows
d) Signage’s

– General
a) Flooring
b) Colorization
c) Furniture/ Fixtures
d) Wall Textures
e) Lighting Services

Point of Purchase (POP) Displays
a) Theme Setting
b) Assortments
c) Racks

Store Layout
– Allocation of Space
a) Selling Space
b) Merchandising Space
c) Personnel Space
d) Customer Space

Classification of Store offerings :

Determining Traffic Flow Pattern
a) Grid Layout
b) Free flow layout
c) Loop or boutique
d) Alternative layout Plans

Further Reading

Books Stores of the Year No. 13 ISBN 1584710578 2001

Influencing Sales Through Store Design (Mellen Studies in Business, V. 14) ISBN 0773475982 2001

Dynamics of Property Location (may not be exactly on topic) ISBN 0415246458

Retail Impact Assessment – A Guide to Best Practice ISBN 0415216664 2000

The Budget Guide to Retail Store Planning and Design ISBN 0944094104 1995

Store Planning/Design History, Theory, Process ISBN 0471594881 1994

Retail Store Planning and Design Manual ISBN 087102117X 1980

Don’t forget the library!

Magazines Visual Merchandising and Store Display (VM + SD)

Display and Design Ideas

Retail Reporting


5 Sizzling visual merchandising trends

By Dan Evans, NADI and Joint

1 A return to a visual emphasis.

I think the single most important trend in visual merchandising is the return of visual merchandising itself! Today, every retailer is addressing its importance—the needs, the how-to, and what went wrong when they simplified their stores and removed this key element of merchandising.

2 It’s all in the details.

Merchandising is no longer about simplification. Today’s trends are full of patterns, textures, exotic trims and unusual material combinations.

3 Color has never been stronger.

No longer can a simple white box define excitement. It may be as simple as adding one bright color to a wall or adding color through product, but color definition will always present excitement.

4 Return of the mannequin.

Whether presented on the main aisle or cleverly placed into the mix of furniture and fixtures, the mannequin can qualify the retailer’s own style and communicate its fashion authority.

5 Values no longer means the lowest price!

Customers want to know that retailers have a clear point of view, that they honestly present their products and services and always give the best for what is spent. Often, these values are presented best through visual merchandising.