Store windows are overlooked opportunities

Articles
December 09, 2009

Store windows are overlooked opportunities

It seems ironic that supermarkets and other retailers apply rigorous performance metrics to every cubic inch of their stores, yet they continually overlook the opportunities of store windows to produce revenue, traffic and shopper delight.

It seems ironic that supermarkets and other retailers apply rigorous performance metrics to every cubic inch of their stores, yet they continually overlook the opportunities of store windows to produce revenue, traffic and shopper delight. Windows are a store’s constant calling card to pedestrians and drivers who pass by, yet they’re usually plastered with item/price signs and little else to beckon people inside.

In our view, retailers could take windows in a few directions: 
They could aim to monetize this prime showcase space, as the Duane Reade drug chain has long done in New York City, where the dense population probably creates a justifiable ROI for the manufacturers who pay.

Or they could emulate what department stores do year-round to showcase products in windows that dwarf humans who walk past, and become most spectacular in the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas season. At their best, these windows depict holiday scenes with brilliant colors, bright lights, animation, humor and fancy. The windows are must-see tourist stops and attract lines of viewers guided by velvet ropes. 

We’re not suggesting such excess for stores that measure every penny, and whose shoppers are doing the same these days.  But we’d love to see some of the same window principles applied to put shoppers in a food-buying mood before they enter the store, convey seasonal and event themes that are played up inside the store, and better integrate the store with the community.  

For starters, why not try a happy non-animated scene of mom and dad at the kitchen table, with children preparing a breakfast for all. Shades of Norman Rockwell, the scene could include real packages of popular breakfast brands, and therein lies the money.

Blend a dose of imagination with a dash of supermarket reality to develop appropriate scenes for stores and markets. The payoff might be surprising and lead to new directional thinking in the use of store space. For instance, this holiday season the Saks Fifth Avenue holiday windows will be powered by the new Windows 7 operating system, bringing to life 3D animations and interactive displays. Inside the store are lounges for shoppers to check out personal computers equipped with Windows 7; from there, customers can enter their holiday wishes to appear in the store windows via Twitter and the hashtag #holiday windows.