16 Retail Display Ideas to Try in Your Store

Retail displays and visual merchandising are — and will always be — essential in driving attention and conversions in brick-and-mortar retail. Studies have shown that much of the information that human beings process come through the sense of sight.

According to researchers Dr. L.D. Rosenblum, Dr. Harold Stolovitch and Dr. Erica Keeps, here is the breakdown of how our five sense processes information:

  • 83.0% – Sight
  • 11.0% – Hearing
  • 03.5% – Smell
  • 01.5% – Touch
  • 01.0% – Taste

Clearly, human beings are highly visual in nature, and this is a fact that is particularly important when you’re running a physical store. One of the main reasons why people decide to shop offline is to see merchandise in person, and this is all the more reason to design winning retail displays.

Read on for tips and examples of visual merchandising done right. Our hope is the following pointers would inspire your retail shop display ideas.

1. Create immersive retail displays

The best way to make a lasting impression is to immerse your customers in a particular environment or setting. Check out the example below. The displays themselves are simple, and the retailer only makes use of a few simple racks and fixtures.

But because all the other elements of the store (i.e., the color of the walls, the cold-weather items, and the text “it’s cold outside”)  follow a unifying theme, the overall effect is quite powerful. It engulfs customers into the “cool” theme of the store, creating an immersive experience.

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Keep this example in mind for your next display. Recognize that you don’t necessarily have to build something fancy. If you have a strong theme and ensure that all the components of your shop are in line with the story you want to tell, you can create a compelling and immersive experience using just a few simple products and fixtures.

2. Encourage people to touch and feel your products

In a survey by Ripen eCommerce, they found that the top reason people shop in brick and mortar stores instead of ecommerce is that physical retail enables shoppers to touch and feel items in person.

The key takeaway here? Create displays that encourage people to touch and feel for you products. If your items are sitting on a shelf or a table while still inside their respective boxes, you could be missing the chance to connect with your customers.

So, take your products out of their packaging and get shoppers to really experience your merchandise. Ulta Beauty, for example, does this with their hairdryers. While other stores keep the products in their boxes, Ulta has their hairdryers out for people to touch and feel them.

3. Use plants in your shop displays

Need an easy and affordable way to breathe life into your visual merchandising? Use plants. Doing so doesn’t just make your displays more attractive, they can also create healthier and more pleasant shopping experiences.

In an interview with Retail Focus, Joey-Michelle Hutchinson, associate vice president at CallisonRTKL, said that having more greeneries in retail environments “makes them feel more inviting, which in turn decreases customer stress levels and increases their dwell time.”

He added, that “plants also help purify the air and increase indoor air quality, and they act as sound absorbers, reducing noise pollution.”

Having more “green” displays clearly has some benefits, so consider incorporating plants into your designs. For inspiration, look no further than homeware retailer Harper & Grey House. Plants are a staple in their displays and the greens do a tremendous job in accentuating their merchandise.

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4. Don’t forget about cross-merchandising

Cross-merchandising is a subtle but effective way to increase basket sizes and average order values. The practice promotes product discovery and entices shoppers to look at items that complement what they’re already buying.

There are a number of ways to implement cross-merchanding. One is to merchandise items that go together. You could, for example, create a display with a blouse, jacket, and matching purse.

That’ exactly what Gymboree did in their display below.

Another idea? Display gift cards next to relevant products. Have a look at what Target is doing. The retailer has some baby-centric gift cards next to some toys in the store’s baby section to remind shoppers about their gift cards. 

5. Have something for the kids

Speaking of little ones, have you considered creating kid-friendly displays? The practice can be quite effective particularly if you cater to Gen X and Millennial consumers.

Have a look at the nifty example below:

6. Keep your retail displays well-lit

Even the most creative displays will fall flat when they’re not well-lit. So invest, in the equipment to make sure that your products are displays in the best possible light.

In this example, the folks at Nulty Lighting  are showing the power of accent lighting for showcasing individual products.

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7. Keep ‘em portable

Is your store on the small side? Consider using portable displays so you can make better use of your space. Such displays are easier to move so you can quickly re-merchandise your shop or make room for other things if necessary.

Portable displays can also help in keeping your visual merchandising focused and on-point. Since you have limited space, you’re forced to only display the most important and most high-impact products.

8. Use signage and displays to educate people about your products

If your products need a bit of explaining, then it could be a good idea to use your displays to educate shoppers about your items.

The following cookware display at Crate & Barrel does exactly that. The top part of the display has images of the items for sale along with a quick description of what each product is and what it does.

9. Play around with colors

Colors can make or break your retail displays, which is why it’s essential to select the right color scheme. A big part of this will be driven by the colors of your products. If most of your items are come in pastel shades for instance, then those colors will be quite common in your displays.

That being said, how those products are displayed together matters a great deal. There are various ways to mix and match colors, so have a think about how you’ll do it in your displays.

The folks at Live By The Sword salon did an amazing job merchandising their shelf of Amika products, which come in a variety of colors.By really leaning into the colorful nature of Amika’s items, they were able to set up a vibrant display that pops.

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Of course, bright and colorful themes won’t work for everyone. In some cases, a more subdued approach makes more sense.

Take this example from The LifeStyled Company. The team created a display featuring Babe Australia’s products, most of which come with predominantly white boxes and labels.

This resulted in a clean and sleek looking display, which encourages shoppers to pick up the items and take a closer look.

10. Have something seasonal

Timely displays are sure to grab the attention of your customers. Keep a close eye on your retail calendar and make sure that your visual merchandising coincides with relevant shopping events and seasons.

For instance, during last year’s back-to-school season, Target dedicated an entire corner to school supplies and relevant merchandise. The area of the store was filled with large, back-to-school displays that were impossible to miss.

11. Localize your retail displays

If you’re running multiple stores, make sure your displays reflect the tastes and preferences of each location. Pay attention to local trends and popular products in the area and ensure they’re front and center in your displays. 

You can shed light on these insights using your POS reporting and retail analytics. Identify the top categories or items in different cities and use the data to inform your merchandising decisions. 

It also helps to call out the name of each town or city. For instance, the homeware retail chain Home Goods has a sign that reads, “Happy to Be in Cerritos” in its Cerritos branch. 

12. Be witty with your visuals

Got a bunch of quotable quotes up your sleeve? See if you can incorporate them into your retail displays. When done right, a bit of text can complement your products and encourage shoppers to take a closer look.

And as a bonus, walls or displays with quotable quotes are a magnet for Instagram users. With the right display, you’re bound to gain a bunch of social shares and tags along the way.

13. Use technology to “extend” your retail displays

If you’re looking for ways to showcase your full product lines without cramming your shelves and racks with too much merchandise, then see if you can use technology to “extend” your displays.

Case in point: when the online retailer Showpo launched their pop-up store in Los Angeles, they chose to display a small selection of products in the shop. 

What’s cool about the store, though, is that Showpo gave customers the ability to shop their entire catalog through a touch-screen display.

Showpo even took things a step further and used another table to capture customers’ details in-store. To encourage people to provide their email, they threw a 15% discount that can be redeemed online.

14. Know that sometimes, less is more

In retail, space conveys value. The more space there is in a store or display, the higher the perceived value of the merchandise. This why many luxury retailers display items in standalone cases while discount stores overstuff their shelves with merchandise.

The right amount of space to use in your store depends on how you want to be perceived. But one thing is clear: if don’t want people to think that your products are cheap, then you’ll want to use fewer items in your display.

Take a look at this window from Saks Fifth Avenue. The display features a single mannequin and table on which there’s just one pair of shoes. Aside from the paintings on the right, there aren’t a lot of details to distract people from the products.

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15. Consider upcycling

Upcycling — the practice of using old or discarded materials to create something new — can help you build out-of-the-box retail displays. In the example below, we can see that the retailer used old chairs to create racks on which to hang their merchandise.

Now, don’t get us wrong: traditional racks and fixtures are still essential. But hopefully, this example encourages you to reimagine the use of old items. You never know — that old chair, box, or frame could be just the thing that would get your display to stand out.

16. Be festive with your shop displays

If you’re celebrating a special holiday or occasion in your store, use your shop displays to show your festive side. Materials like balloons, tassels, garlands and other party supplies could help your displays pop.

Check out this example from Retailers Market.

Are your in-store retail display ideas hitting the mark?

With retail being more competitive than ever, there’s just no room for uninspired and mediocre retail displays. Now, more than ever, you need to constantly cook up in-store visuals can stop people in their tracks and encourage them to buy, share, and come back.

And remember that no matter what kind of display you have, it won’t be effective if it doesn’t showcase merchandise that your customers want to buy. That’s why it’s important to make data-backed decisions when it comes to merchandising. Use your POS or inventory management system to generate sales and product reports that will inform your decisions around what items to show off in your store.

Once you’ve stocked up on the right items, you can showcase them using all the fabulous tips we shared above!

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.