Your store windows are an ideal opportunity to attract customers’ attention and drag them into your store. Windows should be used for these main purposes:
• Sales promotion
• Seasonal changes
• New arrival
• High demand items
Successful store windows are changed frequently! In a downtown area, potential customers pass by your store at least two or three times a week. Ask yourself “If my windows didn’t attract them into the store this week, what makes me believe they will next week?” This frequent number of “pass by’s” means that you must change your windows as often as every week. Determine how many times your windows are seen by potential customers and rotate them to match that frequency. You must constantly present a fresh and exciting face. As a minimum, windows should be changed once per month. Just do it!
Though the art of visual merchandising, i.e. showing the best quality produce on top was around since the open stalls in the markets since civilization began, the art of the store window was not part of the American psyche until the department stores existed. Early on, visual merchandising was called “window trimming.” During the 1920s, it was called “display,” and the denizens of this new world called “Display Man.” The term is literal! Almost all window trimmers were men. The main reason was mannequins during that time weigh between 200 to 300 pounds.
Heavy, clumsy, and hard to maintain, the mannequins were both the pearl and the bane of a Display Man’s job. Most mannequins were made of wax, and as already mentioned, they melt! “One pre-Prohibition window featured mannequins arranged as if at a small dinner party. The ‘hostess’ held a glass of wine in her hands, frozen in a toast. The window dresser was so pleased that he went home early that night.” “When he noticed a crowd gathered around his display the next morning, he was sure it was in admiration of his work. Proudly pushing his way through the assemblage, he was shocked to see that his hostess had softened shamefully under the heat of the lamps. She was slumped over the table, her mouth sagging, the spilled wineglass still clutched in her now limp hand.
The congenial atmosphere of the night before had become the ‘morning after,’ a wine-stained scene not likely to sell the store’s apparel.” (Source: Mannequins: Fantasy Figure of High Fashion, Smithsonian Magazine) Some mannequins were made of papier-mâché. Once they get wet, they bloat and literally fall apart! Even with all these problems, mannequins were often used by the Display Men. Visual Merchandising love affair with the mannequin has begun.
Some ideas to keep in mind:
• Store windows should be placed and lit from within, to encourage maximum visibility into stores and restaurants.
• Use lighting to focus attention on the window displays, particularly onto the merchandise itself.
• Change window displays often to keep passerby interested, to encourage fun and surprise, and to draw in customers.
• Display small merchandise at the front of the display window space, at eye level.
• Consider using a store’s 2nd level windows, even 3rd level windows, if associated with retail below, to display merchandise.
• Use of lighting by tenants to accentuate the architectural feature of their host buildings, should be encouraged.
• Window displays should be lit during store hours, and after store closing.
In recent years, clothing retail competition has generally intensified due to the consequences of new technologies, more sophisticated management practices and the internet. TV, digital billboards and catalogues have all commonly been used in the advertising sector. These communication instruments have an effect on consumers’ shopping attitudes in an increasingly competitive marketplace. In addition, the designing of store windows has continued to have an important effect on advertising products. This is an important point to be taken into consideration by both clothing retailers and designers. Store window displays are regarded as a key instrument of a retailer’s communication and visual merchandising strategy. They are an integral part of a consumer’s surrounding during his/her shopping experience and therefore have an impact on consumer behavior in retail settings. Window displays serve two main purposes: to identify the store and its product (e.g. promotion, merchandise and fashion), and to induce consumers to have shopping attitudes. Window displays give a wide variety of information about a store. By showing a representative merchandise offering, a store can create an overall image. By showing fashionable or seasonal goods, a store can show that it is contemporary. By showing sale items, a store can lure price-conscious consumers. By showing eye-catching displays that have little to do with its merchandise offering, a store can attract pedestrians’ attention. By showing public service messages (e.g., a window display for the Jerry Lewis Telethon), a store can show its concern for the community. Therefore, consumers may often use window displays to obtain information about a product category (e.g., the latest trends/innovations) and a retail clothing store. Although store windows have a very important effect on consumers, there has not been significant empirical evidence regarding the effect of window displays on consumers’ shopping attitudes. In addition, it is not clear how consumers perceive different types of store windows in the sale of retail clothing.
There are about half a dozen different types of window structures presently being used by retail stores, as discussed by a number of researchers. However, of these, there are three major types in the context of clothing retailing from which many combinations are possible: flat, arcade and corner windows. For flat windows, storefront glazing is projected as far forward as possible and built in a straight line, with an entrance door aligned or set back from this line. The arcade window extends from a store’s entrance set back between two windows, which allow a store with fewer frontages to increase its windows space in which to show merchandise. Because the store windows on linear axes such as flat and arcade windows are the subject of this work, corner windows specifically designed for those shops located on corner properties are excluded from this study. Hence, this research seeks to investigate the effect of the two most common types of store windows (flat and arcade) in the context of retail clothing sales. Specifically, using digital pictures of two types of store windows, this study examines the relationships between consumers’ perception of store windows and shopping attitudes with general characteristics of store windows.