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The Only Things You Need To Know About Your Storefront Display

by Sabrina Smelko


If you’ve been following along over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing some tips and tricks for creating the best storefront display for your brick-and-mortar and online shop. And yes — big exhale — it’s a lot to take in!

Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for decades, learning from the wisdom of others in the field is invaluable. So today we’re sharing insights from industry professionals who range from businesses as large as Big Cartel, Etsy and Shopify to individual shops run by independent merchants. We asked all of them: What’s the one thing you should know and keep in mind when creating a storefront display/window, whether online or in a physical space? Without further ado, here are their answers! —Sabrina

“Minimalism is all the rage right now. Having a minimal but enticing storefront display either for a retail space, or online store, is extremely important. Your goal is to make the visitor want to dig deeper into your product and brand. Think of how Apple uses beautiful copy mixed with powerful product shots — that’s what you want.”

— Tucker Schreiber | Content Marketer at Shopify


“If your storefront is anything like mine, sandwiched between other storefronts along a street of storefronts, you want to make sure you stand out, but in a good way! I rely on eye-catching colors, clean + bright lettering with a little of my own illustrative touch! Forget pre-made “open + close” signs bought in a store. Really tap into your creative side rather than your bank account as you really don’t need to spend a lot to make an impression.”

— Darcy Allan (whom we featured last December) of Tea With Gladys


“Will the experience a shopper has with my store communicate the unique value and message that my business is built upon? Switching costs for shoppers is extremely low, so it’s expected that you offer an outstanding customer service, but it’s a competitive advantage if you are able to provide a unique experience that reinforces your differentiating brand position as strongly, clearly and frequently as possible. Whether it is in the form of actual signage and messaging, showcasing products and businesses that evoke the emotion you want a shopper to feel, or the aesthetic for your shop’s design, make sure it’s focused around what your point of view is as a business, what you believe. You need to continuously remind a customer why they come to your business, so the next time they have a shopping impulse your business has a firm position in their top five choices to shop. Pro Tip: Don’t try to say too much, you have only seconds of a shopper’s attention — make sure it’s clear who you are trying to reach, design your experience with focus and intent.”

— Brock Cady | Director of e-commerce and Merch at Storenvy


“Photos! Beautiful photography should be the first thing any online shop owner thinks about. Your photography should be the focal point of every page of your shop, supported by a subtle store design. For brick-and-mortar stores, this translates to unique styling and creating strong visual displays as you stock your shelves.”

— Dan Christofferson, Community Director, Big Cartel


“Unless you have a brick-and-mortar on Fifth Avenue, your online store is your flagship location. If you have that mindset, then you’ll start to realize the importance of that digital first impression. Your lead image and value proposition should tell the your brand’s story. You have about two seconds to make an impact, keep the visuals relevant and the text short.”

— Jeremy Watt | Co-Founder, Province of Canada


“The most important thing when designing your online or brick-and-mortar storefront is knowing the vibe you want to communicate and having confidence in that vision — this will dictate what you want your customers to feel at first glance, from branding to product display. With many shops existing online, as well (if not exclusively), the same attention to detail should be paid to product photography, as you would an in-store display. Overall, it is about highlighting the little things that tell the customer who you are and what makes your product special.”

— Trisha Lepper | Partnerships & Communications, Etsy Canada


“Think like a venus fly trap. The presentation of the whole is just as, if not more, important than the beauty of individual products. Never underestimate the value of good merchandising — people respond to cohesive presentation themes and color stories before they notice the beauty of individual items. With a unified aesthetic voice you can draw them in, and once you’ve sparked their interest, your amazing product will seal the deal.”

— Bre (whom we featured last January) of Scout & Catalogue


“The most important thing to consider when designing your storefront is imagery. Whether it’s photos for your e-commerce shop or the visual display of your store window, effective imagery is critical to representing your brand. It’s not just about featuring a few products — the most successful storefronts represent a lifestyle, a feeling and a story.”

— Shannon Whitehead (whom we featured a couple months ago) of Factory45

Now that you’ve heard from the real-life experts, head over to see the storefront decals we designed for American Express and their small business customers. Imagine the bright decals on your storefront, representing the values your business stands for and supports. Using your gut and everything you’ve learned with this series, develop your own strategy that boldly states who your business is, why it exists and what you love, and shout it from the rooftops — err, place that symbol on your storefront or homepage! Then go ahead, do a walk-by or visit your own site and evaluate: can you see and “feel” what your business is all about? If so, you’re good. But if your answer isn’t a resounding “YES!”, then just keep refining it until you get there.


This post is presented by American Express, ­committed to helping make merchants like you be even more successful with the latest in business trends, insights and tools. Learn more here

Enter for a chance to win $10,000 towards redesigning your store by uploading a photo of your storefront window displaying any of our window decals (including the new decal series by Design*Sponge) to Twitter and/or Instagram with the #LoveMyStoreAmexContest hashtag. 20 runners up will receive a $100 American Express gift card. Get your decal now to get started! For full contest rules, click here

No purchase necessary. Open to American Express® Card accepting merchants with brick and mortar locations in the 50 U.S., DC, PR & other U.S. territories & possessions (“Territory”), who have $3,000,000 or less in annual American Express charge volume and who have 25 or fewer locations (“Qualified Retailers”). Franchisees are not eligible to participate in this Contest. Industry exclusions apply. Only owners or authorized representatives of Qualified Retailers who are at least 18, or the legal age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence, whichever is older, and legal residents of the Territory, may enter on behalf of Qualified Retailer. Contest ends 11:59 p.m. ET 7/31/15. Void where prohibited. See Official Rules for complete details.

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  • This was hugely helpful to me right now! We are currently making changes to our store to freshen it up after four years in a fabulous location. Love the decals from American Express! Great idea!

  • Thanks for posting this! It helps to get advice from business owners who design storefront windows on a regular basis. I liked what Tucker had to say about designing your windows to attract customers. It seems like having a simple, but enticing display is effective in drawing in customers to your establishment. Keeping displays simple with an enticing element seems key to catch a person’s attention, since passersby usually spend very little time to take a good look at a window display as they pass buildings.

  • I love it! I am a BIG fan of great storefront windows. It’s taken me three attempts over the last 5 years to finally find the look I like.

  • I like Darcy Allan’s comment about using your creative side to spruce up a storefront. I still think that the open and closed signs are important. People need to be able to see when you are open, but I would focus on your store’s name and displays more. Make it different, the more unique it looks the more likely I will pay attention to it, but you don’t have to break the bank to make a display good.

  • wonderful post.
    probably more than most people, i LOVE seeing creative storefront designs. but the single most important thing, i think, is to make your store look busy.
    when i ran pizza places, we made sure that the parking lots were well lit and street and building signs came on well before dark (which is easy to overlook in autumn as dark comes sooner), etc.
    if the evening was starting out slow, i would have all the employees move their cars close to the front doors until the evening picked up.
    i guarantee you, when customers are driving by, they will pull into a place that might look ordinary but bustling with business over a nearly empty competitor that hits it out of the park with creative or lovely design and signage.

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