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Merchandise displays are special presentations of a store’s products or services to the buying public. The nature of these displays may range somewhat from industry to industry, but all merchandise displays are predicated on basic principles designed to increase product purchases. Indeed, merchandise displays are an integral element of overall merchandising concept, which seeks to promote product sales by coordinating marketing, advertising, and sales strategies.

Merchandise displays generally take one of several forms:

  1. Storefront Window Displays: These typically open on to a street or shopping mall walk or courtyard and are intended to attract passerby that might not otherwise enter the store.


  1. Showcase Displays: These typically feature items that 1) are deemed to be too valuable for display in storefront setups, or 2) are niche items of high interest to the business’s primary clientele. These display centers are usually located in high traffic areas and typically feature multiple tiers for product display and a sliding door on the clerk’s side for access.


  1. “Found Space” Displays: This term refers to product presentations that utilize small but nonetheless usable areas of the store, such as the tops of product carousels or available wall space. 

Storefront window displays and “found Space” displays are particularly popular tools for publicizing and selling sales items.

Successful Merchandise Display

Several key components of successful merchandise display are particularly relevant for business owners. First, displays should be economical, utilizing only space, materials, and products that are already available. Second, displays should be versatile, able to fit almost anywhere, exhibit almost any merchandise, and convey almost any message. Finally, displays have to be effective. 

The ideal display is readily visible to any passerby and (should be arranged so that) there is no time or space lag between when a potential buyer sees the design and when he or she can react to it. The ideal display also shows the customer what the product actually looks like, not some flat and intangible picture of it. Few other forms of promotion can give such a vivid presentation of both the merchandise and character of a store.

The effectiveness of these cornerstones of merchandising display strategy can be increased by remembering several other tips as well, including the following:

  1. Allocate merchandise display space and expenditures appropriately in recognition of customer demographics. If the bulk of your business’s customers are males between the ages 20 and 40, the bulk of your displays should probably be shaped to catch their interest.


  1. Be careful of pursuing merchandise display designs the sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of originality.


  1. Make certain that the cleanliness and neatness of the display is maintained.


  1. Do not overcrowd a display. Customers tend to pass over messy, busy looking displays. Instead, a display should feature a single item or point of interest. Every primary article in a display must interact with every other so that they all come together as a group. If they don’t, it will look as if there is not one design, but several.


  1. Combine products that are used together in displays. For example, pairing ski goggles with other outdoor apparel is apt to be more effective than placing it alone or with some other product that is only tangentially related to skiing.


  1. Small items should be displayed so that would-be customers can get a good look at them without having to solicit the help of a member of the staff.


  1. Pay attention to details when constructing and arranging display backgrounds. For example, avoid dark backgrounds when customers will be looking through a window, since this makes the glass behave as a giant mirror.


  1. Merchandise displays can sometimes be used to educate customers. A well-conceived display could, for example, illustrate a product use that may not have occurred to most customers. In addition to selling actual merchandise, display can also be used to introduce a new product, a fashion trend, and a new “look” or idea. Display can be used to educate the customer concerning what the new item is, how it can be worn or used, and how it can be accessorized. The display may supply pertinent information, the price, and other special features.

All of these considerations need to be weighed when putting together a merchandise display. But ultimately, the final barometer of a display’s worthiness is its ability to sell products. The test of a good display today is: does it sell?

Bernard Taiwo
I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.