The difference between a great and an average store window can be the difference between getting a customer across the line and losing them to a competitor.
The best piece of advice I ever heard on store windows was from Karen Wilson, one-time head of Estée Lauder and a former board director of jewellery retailer Angus & Coote. Karen said that your store window needs to say, “this I believe”. In other words, you need to make strong, single-minded statements that communicate a firm and compelling belief about your store offer and your promotion. Follow this rule and it doesn’t leave room for multiple and/or weak messages in the window.
You should also think about your store window from distances of 30m, 5m and 1m. At 30m in a shopping mall, you need to attract attention from a distance. As observation researcher, Paco Underhill says: “A store window needs to communicate beyond the people immediately in front of it.” Consider large-format promotional posters with vibrant colour, strong type, or an unusual or striking image. John Moore, ex-Nuance and Sydney Olympics Marketing, always used to talk about the “pig in the window”. He theorised that the image needed to be so strong, so attention-grabbing, so out of context, that it was as if a bright-pink pig had been placed in the shop window.
You can also consider mechanics (displays that move) or digital signage. The Apple Store is a master at the store window from 30 paces. For the launch of the iPhone, Apple installed giant replicas of the device in their store windows, with working LCD screens that demonstrated the product.
At 5m, your window needs to stimulate interest. Your customer has been drawn towards your store and now you need to get across the “headline” of your offer.
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At 1m, you need to communicate the detail of your offer and promotion. (A cautionary tale here: Some retailers, notably jewellers, are apt to cram the windows with product. That’s definitely not “this I believe”. You need to edit and leave something to the in-store experience.) Paco Underhill advises keeping it simple – “You need to have one message, not 15.”
The other key with store windows is to always look at your store from the customer’s perspective. Great retailers often ask their team members to spend the first few minutes of every day stepping beyond the shopfront and looking back at the store. You’ll be amazed what you’ll find. On a store visit for a client a couple of years ago, I saw one store which didn’t feature a pig in the window. Instead, it proudly showcased a cockroach in the window. Not a good look.
Store windows are effectively marketing media that you have already purchased. Use them well and you can turbo-charge your traffic counts. Simple advice. Simplicity sells.
What store-window techniques have helped draw customers into your store? Or what windows are you drawn towards?