For artistically-inclined bookstore staff, window displays can be a really fun way to get creative and express yourself and your store. For others, they're far less fun — chores full of arranging merchandise and mannequins in a way that never seems to come together. Regardless of how you feel about them, however, window displays are a necessary part of running a retail operation. By catching customers' eyes and showcasing what you have to offer, they can make or break a potential sale before it even happens.
And when experts suggest you change your displays as much as every two weeks, that means you'll need ideas. Check out some of these suggestions to really make your window displays a big hit on campus.
1. Paper makes displays pop
Never underestimate the power of paper. It's one of your most powerful allies in the fight against boring window displays. Cheap, abundant and colorful, you can do anything from hanging simple paper snowflakes or basic origami shapes to more intricate designs, like paper quilling.
What you choose to do depends on the amount of time or level of comfort you have in your papercraft skills, but if you want something both easy and attention-getting, check out these super cool paper emojis! They're quick, easy and would look great hanging up in your window.
2. Start your display with a story
Regardless of the industry, it's pretty much a universal trait among retailers to use seasonal themes in their window displays. It gives your store a festive, topical look and can be a good way to get into the spirit of any holidays or events going on. But why settle for a good festive window display, when you could have a great one? The trick, according to Shopify, is to start with a story instead of a theme.
The reason I say it's important to start with a story based on a theme, versus a theme alone is that you could go crazy wanting to assemble all your orange and black products when it's halloween, all your red and green products when it's the holidays, or all your red and pink products when it's valentines and so on, akin to a chicken with its head cut off. What you want to do is to start with a theme, but use your storytelling prowess to turn it into something more sophisticated.
— Humayun Khan, Shopify
- Instead of "Christmas", think "Nut Cracker"
- Instead of "Halloween", think "Sleepy Hallow"
- Instead of "Valentine", think "Cupid's Mischievousness"
- Instead of "Thanksgiving," think "Dressing Up a Turkey"
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If you want to see a good example of this in action, you need look no further than Bleecker Street. In his blog Scouting New York, film location scout Nick Carr shared some creative window displays along the historic NYC street, including this one from Ralph Lauren:
Ralph Lauren could have set up some cobwebs and skeletons alongside their orange and black clothing and called it a day, but they got in the spirit by dressing the skeletons up as though they were going out for a spooky night of fishing. In a humorous touch, they've even rolled up their ankles to show the exposed bone. It paints a scene and tells a story, and allows the store to showcase its merchandise during the Halloween season that it otherwise wouldn't have been able to if it had limited itself to costumes or an orange-and-black palette.
3. Push your primary product: books
Window displays are frequently used as opportunities to show off new merchandise like apparel and other gear. While your main selling point is books, they unfortunately don't make for very eye-catching or photogenic subject matter.
That's why St. Mary's University Bookstore got creative with their dead book display.
Textbook Manager Kimberlee Ferris said that in an effort to combat waste, she wanted to do more with her no-value books beyond simply destroying them.
“With the advent of Pinterest and other image-sharing sites, it’s become clear just how much you can do with used books,” she said. “I made a wreath and a swag out of old book pages during the holiday season, and I had a lot of extra pieces leftover. I didn’t want them to go unused, so I thought ‘why not do the same at the store?’ I wanted to create something a little more avant-garde than your typical window display.”
The result — a dress, headdress, butterflies, flowers and more — created an eye-catching display that certainly garnered the store a lot of attention.
“We received a lot of really great feedback,” Ferris said. “It brought people who we don’t typically see into the store. In fact, several stopped in just to ask the cashiers who made the display and to offer a compliment; it really generated some positive PR. All it takes is a little imagination and a lot of time!”