As an author, the first chance you have to bring a reader into your world is with your book cover. A great cover will stop a person who is browsing. The art will present an intriguing story to the reader that makes them want to know more. Once the book is in their hands, it is up to the content inside to make the sale and create a loyal customer, but it is the cover that makes the introduction. With a college store, creative and eye-catching window displays act in the same manner.
Great window displays don’t have to be expensive, they don’t have to be complicated and they certainly don’t have to show every product in your store. Think of your display as telling a story. What is it saying to the people who pass by? What reason is it giving people to stop for a closer look? You have the latest Harry Potter book or a team sweatshirt, so do 15 other stores. Why should the customer come into yours?
On the other hand, if you have the new Harry Potter book and suddenly your store window looks like it should be in Diagon Alley, that’s intriguing (BYU Idaho Bookstore Harry Potter window display). Combine that with a book release party and suddenly you have an event people are excited to attend because you have made a connection based in something they are passionate about. Your storefront has probably also made it onto countless social media posts, providing free, organic advertising.
In designing your display, think spatially. How will the customer view the window? Is the window even with the sidewalk? Probably not. Start from the line of sight and build out, putting the most eye-catching elements directly where they will be seen. Simple, focused designs and bold colors work well. Also come back to the story you are trying to tell. Cedarville University, who won the Nation Window Display Award in 2016, created a bright yellow hive out of chicken wire and construction paper (their mascot is a yellow jacket). The window was displayed after Cedarville’s Christmas break welcoming the students back to the hive. The simple, clear, focused message brought attention to their store.
Change your display frequently to ensure people will swing by and check out what you are doing now. Creative and unpredictable windows will garner more attention. Take St. Mary’s University Bookstore for example. They used their old, unsellable books to create a gorgeous display that brought people into their store. If you or your employees aren’t crafty or artistic, talk to the art department and see if there are students who would like to assist in creating the displays. Share your windows on social media, create a hashtag. Be innovative and on trend as much as possible. Your customers will love the effort and the store will stay relevant in their minds all semester long.
Don’t have a great window for a display? Try a chalkboard sign with fun designs and funny or clever sayings that will catch someone’s eye as they pass. At least once a week on social media, a picture passes through my newsfeed from a chalkboard sign some restaurant or business made based on a meme. People do notice and they do share so long as you make them smile.
Good luck. If your store has had a great window display, we’d love to see it. Check out our Pinterest page for more inspiration.