How to Design an Effective Showcase Display

Showcases are a retailer's first impression on shoppers.  Many times they could be the only chance to impact them as they walk by and get them to come inside the store.  Even though there are other ways to drive traffic to a store, outstanding window displays can have a beneficial and measurable influence on a retail business. 

Unfortunately, most retailers, particularly the small ones, design boring and ordinary displays that often times go completely unnoticed.  The reason is usually because the costs associated with developing a great display are considered to be prohibitive.  Undeniably, the showcases that big luxury retailers develop, like Saks Fifth Avenue's and Bergdorf Goodman's in New York, present a tag price that would be excessive for smaller stores.

However, it is still possible to design an effective and creative displays even without the budget of the big box stores.  The way to do it is to consider the showcases an ideal extension of the retail concept that the retailer developed.  Showcases should effectively be a window into the lifestyle and experience that the store presents.  Ideally, they should also be engaging, dynamic and spark curiosity. 

For example just last week I was walking in New York's Upper West Side and I noticed a woman intent in doing Yoga in the showcase of athletics store Lululemon.  Various people stopped to observe the curious and certainly differentiating display, just like me.  A good number of them stepped inside to see what else the store had to offer. 

Another example is La Porte Jewelers, a jewelry shop in Lancaster, PA.  I first read about this store in an article by Michelle Graff, About Retail: Suspending tradition.  Among the many original ideas introduced by La Porte Jewelers were their creativity in their showcase displays, particularly their holiday displays.

Michelle Graff describes them in these words: "The store teamed up with the local Prima Theater Company to put on live, original Christmas skits that were silently acted out in the store’s front windows every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from the beginning of December to Christmas Eve. The skits drew 50 to 60 people a night."

One final example is Tiffany's, which over 50 years ago adopted an artistic approach to window dressing and placed its jewelry in some of the most common and ordinary settings in its displays.  The combination was especially successful, as it strengthened its message that jewelry can complement any situation and is never out of place. To know more about Tiffany's window dressing read Trace Shelton's article, No Showcase Like Tiffany's, and see the videos that he provides in the article.

All these brands have been successful because they thought of their showcases as an additional medium where to promote their lifestyle.  Retailers should always be consistent with their retail concept when designing their showcases and should deliver their message in the most dynamic and differentiating way that they can conceive.  La Porte Jewelers and Lululemon demonstrate that it is possible to do it in an effective and relatively economical manner.

Share in the comment box below any other examples of great showcase displays that you ran into, or other suggestions on this topic.

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