Visual Merchandising: How to Create Stunning Window Displays That Sell
Maybe you’re looking to open a dispensary in your state. Maybe you’re a budding entrepreneur in other ways.
But either way, if you plan on opening a brick-and-mortar business, you need to take advantage of visual merchandising.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a few essential tips to help you craft a store window your customers will love. Keep reading to find out how to get started on your window and how to make a display that stands out from the crowd.
Making Your Window Display
Before you learn the basics of a good window display, you should first learn the basics of how to make a window display.
Here’s where to get started.
Assemble Your Tool Box
Before you stare at your merchandise for ideas or brainstorm how to stage a Broadway musical in your store window, you’re going to need a few tools.
Your tools will include:
- Tape measure
- Glue gun and hot glue sticks
- Two-sided tape
- Screwdriver and screws
- Hammer and nails
- Utility knife
- Pen, pencil, and a notepad
- Any non-merchandise items to use as props
This is hardly a comprehensive list–this is just the basics you’ll need to get started. You can invest in more specific supplies once you know what you actually need in your retail window display.
Start with a Story
Once you’ve got your tools in hand, grab the pen, pencil, and notepad to draft the fun part: coming up with a story.
Ideally, window merchandising should always begin with a story. If you have no idea where to begin with a story, or what story to tell, it’s a good idea to choose a theme.
The right theme, that is.
For example, instead of thinking “Halloween” or “creepy”, think “Sleepy Hollow” or “Dracula”. Instead of “Christmas”, think “Nutcracker”.
From there, you can develop a story frozen at a specific point. That will be what goes into your store window display.
Establish a Focal Point
Once you have a story, you don’t want to break out the tinsel yet.
Before you design a window, you need to establish a clear focal point. Without it, even the best-made display will lack something critical to bring it all together.
Start by standing on the street in front of your window. Give it a good look.
This will tell you the natural center of the window, where your customers’ eyes tend to fall, and how you can arrange a display to maximum effect. Don’t be shy about using masking tape to mark placement.
From there, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out the focal point, which is where you want your customers to concentrate their focus. Think of it as the locus on which the story is centered–the main action will occur at the focal point.
Tips for Visual Merchandising that Sells
Once you have the essentials down, you can move on to more in-depth tips to make killer visual merchandising.
Here are a few tips to help you develop your window beyond the basics.
Tell a Story
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it all comes back to telling a story.
Go back to your theme. If you started out with a simplistic theme, a la, “Valentine’s Day”, now is the time to expand that theme outward into something more interesting.
For example, instead of Valentine’s Day, you could try crafting a window around a mischevious love story or how to mend a broken heart. Stories that show your customers ways to make their lives better, even implicitly, are often a good idea in visual merchandising.
Know Your Target Customer
Of course, part and parcel of your story is knowing who your target customer is.
If you’re opening a dispensary in a young, hip area, it won’t do you much good to make a window that would attract older hippies.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’re a clothing store for well-off women in their 30s. And let’s say that you have a display window featuring three dresses and a couple’s photograph paired with each.
For your target audience, this is an excellent display. For most adults, love and connection is the ultimate goal. Pairing dresses with images of couples in love allow you to associate the two things together to sell dresses.
Now, let’s say you’re a dispensary catering to young, hip marijuana aficionados. How do you translate that psychology into a story in your window?
Think of the goals of your target audience–maybe they want to have a good time, live a more adventurous life, or make more connections with friends. Images depicting such things, paired with your products, are a good way to make this principle work for you.
Think of it like a budtender making recommendations between two types of marijuana strains. The right recommendation for the right person will have them coming back over and over again. The wrong one will leave them irritated and disappointed.
Think in Visual Planes
It’s not all about stories though. Remember, you’re dealing with three-dimensional space, and you have work with visual planes to structure your retail window display in a manner that works to capture the attention of passersby.
For example, you need to orient everything in your window based on the customer’s eye level. But that won’t be immediately obvious from inside the display, as displays are usually raised above street level.
Instead, stand outside on the street and use tape to mark the customer’s eye level. Concentrate key pieces of your display around where the tape is–that way, you’ll have a much easier time attracting your customer’s attention.
Be Surprising and Original
The average person sees around 5,000 ads in a single day. If you want any would-be customers to buy from you, you have to do something to stand out from the masses.
Hint: creativity and originality are good places to start.
Maybe your clients want to discover more about how to clean their bongs. A creative way to market to them is to design a window that shows how to clean a bong in a way that’s cheeky or funny. It’s unorthodox, sure, but it’s memorable.
Sell a Lifestyle, Not a Product
You know you’re selling CBD oil. Your customer knows you’re selling CBD oil. But that’s not what you’re selling in your window displays.
If you sell a product, customers will just keep walking. Remember, people try to sell to them every minute of every day. They’re not interested.
But, most people are interested in transcending their current reality or identity. They want to be themselves…just a slightly better version than the one that currently exists.
You can use that in your favor by selling your would-be customers a lifestyle, rather than a product.
To do this, think about the ideal lifestyle that your customers want. What are they dreaming of? What are they striving for? Name it and use it in your window display to help your customers actualize it (or, at least, try to actualize it by purchasing your products).
Keep It Clean
We’ve all heard by now that clutter causes stress. That’s true of our houses and that’s true of your window displays.
People don’t like clutter in visual merchandising because they don’t know where they’re supposed to look. You don’t have much time to grab their attention, and if you make them work too hard for it, they’ll move on to the next thing.
With that in mind, always strive to use the right quantity in your window displays. A single canister of CBD won’t attract attention, but an array of them in the shape of a tree in December might.
Keep It Fresh
Finally, you want to make sure that you keep your window displays fresh.
That’s not the same thing as keeping them clean–we mean that you need to update your window displays as often as you can on a consistent basis in order to keep your customers interested.
This doesn’t have to be a weekly effort, nor does it have to break the bank.
An easy way to do this is printing a dozen large photographs of your store or products and rotating between two or three of them every few weeks. You may update your displays more often based on new product offerings, but this gives you a baseline to fall back on.
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