The shop window – an opening to a shopper’s heart

There are stores that you expect to have the all-year round wow factor to their window displays – Harrods, Barneys, Hamleys, and of course the designers. But you don’t have to be one of these big guns to take a leaf out of their book and apply some clever marketing to your own shop window.

Whether your design and sell clothes, interiors, beauty, hardware or if you own a pet parlour – your window will say more about you as customers get a glimpse into your world, and if they like what they see, they will enter. I’ve even seen fabulous window displays from a recruitment company based in Bristol.

In a bid to draw attention, it’s your window that is your blank canvas. From an eccentric mix of colour and Mad Hatter of Betsey Johnson, to the regal appeal of a Tiffany window. You don’t have to be a well-known brand to show customers and passers-by just how much you care about the look of your shop.

When I was in my final year of school it was a given that I was going to university, but to study what?

I ended up with a Bachelor in Communication and Journalism, but what I really wanted to be was a window dresser. There wasn’t a degree in that, and I didn’t really find out how I was supposed to get into that field of creativity. I suppose what I should have done was to take up a graduate programme with a department store and get trained in retail buying or window dressing.

Like party planning, creating a wow factor with the theme is key. Dressing a shop window, be it for a department store or a boutique independent, is essential in attracting people to go in. I call it savvy retailing.

Remember the ruby red slippers the size of a double-decker bus that were part of Harrod’s Chistmas display one year? Now, that’s what I call an over-the-top wow factor display. And we all loved it. Christmas shouldn’t be the only time of year that retailers put effort into their windows. It’s an all year-round thing – exciting and interesting for the customer.

I must take this  opportunity to mention that there has been a lot of debate in the retail world about the over-use of lighting which impacts on the environment. Retailers are being encouraged to think about electricity consumption, especially with literally weeks until Christmas.

You may have noticed that charity shops have also had a make over with their windows. Hopefully, gone are the days where, for example, the Sue Ryder or Salvation Army shops are just a mess of clutter. The idea of the charity shop, if I’m not mistaken, is to raise money for a chosen cause. They’ve finally realised they are a business that needs customers just as much as the next.

With the high street losing its je ne sais quoi – high rent and business rates, customers spending less, shops closing or relocating, it’s up to the remaining shops to be ambassadors and create appealing window displays to keep customers coming back to an area.

Being a huge fan of British retail expert Mary Portas – retailers take heed – don’t commit retail suicide and end up as another small business statistic. If you are struggling for ideas, why don’t you take a trip to a well known suburb or town that is known for it’s shopping. Take photos, notes, whatever you need to get those creative juices flowing.

Speak with other retailers, or act as an ambassador for your area and start up a window display competition in association with local press or your council. Use a theme as inspiration – Summer party, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, tea party, anniversary, as a few examples.


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