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15 Tips for Creating Dazzling Displays

  1. First off, remember the job of a product display is to showcase the merchandise in such a way as to make customers stop and look at the items closer and hopefully buy them. So always strive for the exciting and eye-catching rather than modest and mediocre.
  2. Don’t overburden a display. The merchandise should stand out, not be buried. Yes, it is tempting to show a large amount of product in a display, but if you try to cram too much into a setting, the customer will just gloss over it.
  3. Find a focal point. Choose one stunning item or an interesting prop and build the display around that. The focal point should be bigger or brighter than the other merchandise.
  4. Keep in mind both positive and negative space. The area around the products – the negative space – frames the merchandise, so you want to keep some of that space open. Yes, you can overlap items, but too much overlapping will cause visual confusion.
  5. Stick to three colors at the most. Keep in mind your product's coloring and then choose one or two other hues for props and backgrounds. Too many color variations will distract from the product itself.
  6. Choose a theme. Make a color story (merchandise in various shades of blue, for example), a seasonal design (wintertime décor), or a clever setting (bunnies and babies).
  7. Plan your window displays for the types of customers that pass by. If you have mainly drive-by customers, show bigger items; if you're in a pedestrian area, smaller pieces would be OK.
  8. Remember height. Include risers in your display or hang something from the ceiling to reach a tabletop setting.
  9. Let it shine! Add track lighting or other spots that you can direct at your displays. A well-lit display will outsell a dark one any day. And consider leaving your window display lit at night so it can attract attention 24 hours.
  10. Be careful what you place in your window, especially if it has a sunny exposure. Candles will melt, fresh fruit or vegetables may attract bugs, and colors on some products might fade. Consider having your front window covered in a sun-resistant film.
  11. Go for the unexpected. If you're showcasing coastal dishes, place them in a display filled with sand. To highlight a themed Christmas tree, put it in an unusual base, such as a wheelbarrow or cradle.
  12. Add motion and sound. If you have a display of wind chimes or flags, set up a small fan to keep the items moving. For a garden area, consider a small tabletop pond. The sound of the water gurgling will attract attention.
  13. Keep bolts of interesting fabric on hand. You can hang it for a backdrop, wrap it around a display to move the eye, cover a table with it or bunch it together in a basket to nestle more fragile products.
  14. Use architectural elements as display pieces. Hanging windows can be used to separate spaces, a porch railing can showcase birdhouses, bricks or stones can be used to create multiple levels.
  15. And finally, change your displays often (at least once a month). Customers always want something new, and a changing display will make it look like you have all new merchandise. If they see the same displays over and over again, they will stop coming to your store.
This article is reprinted with permission from Country Business magazine. © 2008. Country Business is a trade publication for independent retailers of gifts and home accents. For information, visit www.country-business.com.
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