How can boutique window dressing affect in-store visits?

Businesses do some weird and wonderful things to attract people into their store — Zara introduced augmented reality in their front window for example, and Saks Fifth Avenue filled their front window with a litter of puppies. But, things are different in a fashion boutique — the display needs to represent the luxe of the clothes that are in-store. How can this be done? We take a look at the psychology behind window dressing and gather some insight from Trilogy Store — premium retailers of women’s high waisted jeans both on and offline.

How important is a window display?

When you walk down the high street, you’ll probably notice that a lot of people have their head down, looking at their phones. That’s why stores need something eye-catching to grab the attention of passers-by. Research has also found that as a population, we’re all walking faster than we used to in big cities.

If a window display is successful, with a target market in mind, shops can see their footfall and sales increase. Retailers should use their windows to inform passers-by of their brand and to stand out from their competition who may have a store on the same road.
There are a range of techniques to make a window display appealing, and one of these is with the right lighting. Bad lighting can make your products look different to what they are in real life — this can be dangerous, especially for clothing retailers. It can make your clothes appear to be different colours. Instead, clean lighting can show off the quality of the materials in store and make them stand out.

Remember the basics too. Window displays should be clean and organised. In a fashion boutique, customers don’t want to see any clutter, instead all garments should be presented neatly.

What does the psychology say?

There are techniques that everyone knows about when it comes to designing a good window display such as keeping it tidy and making it colourful, but there is some psychology behind what attracts visitors too.

First up is the rule of three. This is where three of something are in the focal point of someone looking. In a boutique window, this could be three mannequins, three shelves or three pairs of shoes. This layout creates asymmetry in the customer’s view which is more memorable for them than if there was just two.

Further studies have revealed that using visuals can increase message retention by 42% — this shows how important it is to convey a positive message through your window display. Then there is the ‘pyramid principle’ which is the concept that the human eye will always veer to the centre of a picture. For this reason, ensure that the main thing you’re promoting should sit in the middle of the window.

There is also colour psychology to consider. The most popular colours that retail shoppers resonate with are black, white, grey and dark blue, and stores should use these for background colours as a safe option. Of course, it’s important to still inject some colour into the display to avoid the window looking drab, this might be through props or clothing garments. In a boutique, try to avoid the colour red as this is associated with sale and offer items and this can affect your premium image. Use complementary colours to create a display that’s aesthetically pleasing, this might be through pairing red and green, blue and orange and yellow and purple.

Hear from a boutique retailer


The Creative Director at Trilogy Stores answered some questions on their visual merchandising strategies:


Do you think that your window display affects the number of visitors that come into your store?


Yes definitely. We have noticed that our window displays directly affect the number of people who visit our stores, and this does vary depending on the design. In particular, our customers seem to be especially drawn in by eye-catching displays that are focused on colour and print.


London is an extremely competitive city to own a retail store; how do you make sure that your window stands out from the rest?


We always try to take a fresh approach to our window displays and, as a small boutique chain, we use our own assets and collateral when we can. This is instead of relying on brands or ‘stock images’ that might not resonate as well with our customers. We have developed a wide range of exclusive products and try to feature these when we can in our windows too. This means that customers can see the unique clothing on offer. We feel that we have a ‘signature’ look to our windows through using colour, print and images that our customer identifies with. They see this same brand message on our website, social media and in-store.


What top tips would you give for visual merchandising in a boutique store?


Get to know your customer. We work hard to create eye-catching displays and in-store features that are commercially viable with volume product behind them.
Keep it new and fresh. We do run monthly campaigns in our windows, but we think that updating products in the window on a weekly basis keeps our regular customer excited about coming back.

Keep it consistent. Try to reiterate the main campaign messages in your window throughout the store with consistent imagery, talking points and branding so our customer has confidence in what we’re promoting.

Jake Holyoak is the senior outreach coordinator at Mediaworks. Mediaworks is an award-winning digital marketing agency that helps brands succeed online.


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