By Josh Strutt
Associate Director – Deployment, Retail Doctor Group

“Curiouser and curiouser,” cried Alice.

With so much competition both online and on the high streets, one of the most important pieces of real estate you possess is your shop window.  It is through this looking glass that you first touch your shoppers’ hearts and minds, drawing them in so your store merchandising and sales staff can effectively do their jobs.

On average, a customer will have three seconds to be impacted by your window display.  During this time, they need to be captivated, understand your offer, be compelled by your message and have their “buying radar” switched on.  Whilst this may appear an impossible task, it’s not. By putting “fit” franchisee business practices into place from the outside in, you have a considerably higher chance of engaging customers from the minute they see your window and enter the store.  So how can you capitalise on shoppers walking past your store?  We’ve put together some “fitness” tips to help you engage customers on the outside and drive purchases within.

Creating your own window wonderland

Firstly, no matter what time of year, every retailer should have an advanced planning schedule for their window displays. If this is not dictated by your head office, you’ll need to start planning yourself.  Capitalising on key retail events is critical and to put timing into perspective, most retailers are planning their Christmas windows right now – the time of year when you need to stage your biggest window wonderland production.  As with all successful productions, planning and rehearsals are the keys to ‘fit’ window displays.

  • Who’s your audience? Like any great production, you need to know your prospective local audience.  Anticipating who they are and how to entertain them is absolutely key.  Once you know your audience, you can tailor your window wonderland production to maximise impact and draw them in.
  • Why should they buy from you? Once you understand your customers, you must then establish the reason they believe in you. What is your unique point of difference and why should they come in and purchase your products?  What problem will you solve for them?  Most of this will be covered by good marketing communication from a head office level but take the time to understand and know your local customers intimately, too.
  • Have you ensured brand consistency? If you are a franchisee or a part of a bigger retail network, Head Office may send you a complete window display kit, your challenge is to execute it within the brand guidelines and ensure consistency across the store network. After all, one of the key benefits of being a franchisee is the brand.
  • Know your window wonderland parameters. Whether you have one store or many, when did you last undertake a “window audit?” “Fit” retailers intimately know their window real estate so that when they come to put on their production, they can build the perfect set.  Window audits need to include everything from lighting and backdrops to fixtures, fittings and alarms.  Your aim is to find the most cost-effective solution that you can put in place across not just one store, but many if applicable. If your marketing materials come from Head Office, inform them of your window audit findings, so you can improve your fixtures, fittings and display as soon as possible.
  • Surprise and delight your curious audience. If you think they’ve seen it all before, then they probably have!  So you need to find a way to not only surprise and delight them, but also draw them in. How can you create a window wonderland that makes them want and need your product or service?  It’s all in the art, creativity and theatre.  Remember the seven principles of effective displays: colour, unity, variety, dominance, rhythm, balance and proportion.
  • The stars of the performance. Your products or service are the star performers in your window wonderland production so make sure you create excitement around them.  Stars in the window sell so make sure they are well presented and that you have enough stock to exceed targets!
  • Invite them backstage. “Fit” retailers understand the need to use the windows to invite their audience in. Whilst the visual element may do the job by piquing curiosity and need, there’s nothing like a strong written call to action that ties into your creative theme.
  • Create drama with rave reviews. This is the perfect time to think about how technology can help engage your audience.  You need to activate interest using every one of the possible senses from music and smell to incredible visual creatives.  However, window wonderlands can create shopper momentum before they even walk into the store.  Today, it’s all about SoLoMo – Social, Local and Mobile and connecting with your customers at a local level is key.  If you have local events, local website, local product news or blogs, consider how you can communicate this on the window so you never miss an opportunity to connect.
  • Make it feel like it’s always an opening night. Keeping the window wonderland fresh is so important to capture repeat visitors.  Make it clear when new products are available by promoting them in the window.
  • Ensure the stage crew is fully briefed! All too often, we hear about the most creative window ideas, which store staff are simply unable to effectively execute.  No matter what your amazing plan, test materials in your store/s and watch how staff activate the display.  Use these tests to write the staff instruction sheet and include real tips from real store staff.

Happy Fit Retailing

Our Deployment team can help you maximise the efficiency of your window displays to drive sales and conversions. For more on Retail Doctor Group’s retail consultant services driven by our “fit for business fitness™” programs, email or phone 02 9460 2882.