“Do not judge a book by its cover”...but customers may judge your store by its window. This is often the first point of contact with the customer and their impression of the store can have a paramount effect as to whether they choose to enter the store or not. Ultimately, the purpose of the window is to sell, but achieving more than just sales, the window can be utilised to create fantasy, wonder and theatre. Thus, the ‘five-second rule’ applies. Windows are the perfect opportunity for stores to create the ‘wow-factor’ that is so often lacking in retail today.
The time-poor consumer will pass the shop window quickly, thus, naive brand pushing is not enough to attract the customer’s attention. With other businesses in your precinct potentially stocking similar merchandise, your window display could very easily mirror your competitor’s. Customers want individuality. Like every woman’s nightmare of going into a room full of women wearing the same outfit, the discerning retailer dreads seeing the same window idea being used by their competitors. So dare to be different – revel in the unexpected and have a bit of fun. With a little imagination, use your windows to make your own statement, refl ect your store’s image and stand out from the crowd.

There are three main types of windows used in retail: the closed-back window, semi-closed-back window and open-back window display. 

Closed-back window 

This style of window features a permanent or semi-permanent back wall that completely closes the window area from the store’s selling space. Closed-back windows are the perfect back drop for creating dynamic and theatrical displays as the lighting in the window is not competing with lighting from the selling floor. A much more dramatic effect can be achieved as lighting can be angled and controlled to highlight the focal point of the display. The back wall can be mounted with a ‘Slatwall®’ system for shelving and fi xtures, ‘frontrunner’ (a carpet-like treatment) to velcro posters or pin props, or the wall can be covered with bright sheets of fabric to visibly transform the mood and theme of the window.

Display Tips:
- Risers are useful props to elevate merchandise in order to achieve varying heights in the display.
- Posters add a zigzag effect to the display.

Semi-closed-back window

These windows are constructed with a partition that extends to a certain height, separating the window area from the store. This panel allows customers to see beyond the window display into the store itself. Similar to the closed-back window, this wall can also be mounted with a ‘Slatwall®’ system or frontrunner. Some stores have their cash-wrap counters backing against the rear of the partitioning resulting in a constant ‘presence’ in the window. That means that the staff form part of the window display and their activities are visual to the customer.

Display Tips:
- Repetition display used on two different levels for visual effect.

- Use props to add life to an otherwise ordinary display – particularly by using items featured on the front cover of the featured books (as illustrated in the example above).
- Small posters have more impact when repeated, e.g. ringed together to create one long poster.
- Suspend coloured cardboard, fabric-covered panels or in this example, bamboo screens to refl ect the subject matter of the books.
- Leave some negative space in the window to balance the display.

Open-back window

This type of window has no back panel therefore the customer has a clear visual into the store. The benefi t of open-back windows is that activity in the store and the store’s ambience fl ows into the window area, which can reinforce the store’s image. Problems that could arise include diffi culty in creating a desired effect or atmosphere in the window display due to distractions from within the store. Another disadvantage of open-back windows exposing the backs (or unsightly) side of displays – sticky tape holding items together, the
back-strip of hanging posters (detailed in poster hanging section) etc.

Display Tips:
- Risers, raised platforms, display tables, shelf units or even suspended shelving are often used in open-back windows.
- Keeping the display in the window uncluttered and clean with a distinct look compared to the rest of the store will ensure its effectiveness.
- Suspending posters or other backdrops (fabric, coloured panels etc.) will ‘break up’ the window area from the selling floor.
- Be careful when using props to ensure the safety of the customer.
- Keep display tightly grouped so that items don’t appear ‘lost’ or out of place.

For more Visual Merchandising tips please request a free copy of the Central Geelong Visual Merchanding kit via an email to centralgeelong@geelongcity.vic.gov.au