Eye-Catching & Innovative Retail Display Ideas

Custom Exhibits | Exhibit Design
January 18, 2022

It’s no secret that compelling retail display ideas are more important than ever. The rise of online shopping and lower retail foot traffic because of COVID has forced brick-and-mortar stores to “up their game.” It’s no longer enough to have a neat, clean and organized store. That’s a given. They want a visual and customer service experience that they can’t (and won’t) receive online or from other stores. 

As a retail merchant, your creative branding still matters. That will never change. However, shoppers are more discerning about brands they identify with. The brand has to fit their lifestyle, their values. At the same time, they expect the in-store experience to be entertaining, convenient, and personalized. That’s a HUGE challenge. 

Stores with no (or minimal) online presence have to offer shoppers an experience that differentiates them from online. On the other hand, stores with both an online shop and a physical presence are tasked with integrating them so the experience is seamless while still creating a unique and profitable value proposition for both.  

Below are some retail display ideas to consider. These are starting points. Use them as a way to explore and generate creative ideas for your retail business.

Retail Display Ideas: Bridge the Gap Between the Online and Offline

Customers are increasingly more comfortable shopping online and via social media. However, many retailers still see the online and office experiences as separate divisions within the company. This creates a disconnect for the customer and lost revenue for the retailer. The first step can be as simple as showing inventory in real-time at the distribution warehouse and at local stores. This gives the customer three choices:  delivery, store pickup, or shopping for it at the store. 

Target is a great example of this approach. It made the stores the cornerstone of its digital sales, using them as the fulfillment centers for shipping items, or where customers could pick up their online orders if they chose. In 2020, Target’s curbside pickup orders grew by more than 600% and its same-day orders by more than 300%. 

Research shows that one in three retailers will invest in live stream shopping this year, while 35% are also going to implement virtual reality shopping. These investments can lead to richer experiences for customers and more informed purchase decisions. 

How are retailers engaging customers virtually? One way is live streaming, which is when products are shared with customers over live video. It can be as simple as using an iPad to show customers what’s in store through a virtual shopping appointment, or by using Instagram Stories to showcase the new stock that just arrived.

unique retail display ideas

Leverage The Omnichannel Opportunity

Customers are glued to their devices. Just five years ago, the bulk of eCommerce started with someone sitting in front of their computer. That’s changing, and retailer retailers are experimenting with multiple ways of meeting customer needs as they scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. 

Social selling is made possible by eCommerce tools. Retailers who sell on social platforms say that half or more of their revenue comes from social media sales. Retailers are earning the most revenue from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, respectively.

Follow These Tips for Retailers to Succeed on Social Media

  1. Choose social networks relevant to your business
  2. Create guidelines for interacting on each social media platform
  3. Contribute to conversations. Not all conversations have to be about your brand.
  4. Share content relevant to your audience
  5. Use the social media platforms for direct sales (if possible)
  6. Be engaged, consistent, and proactive

Promoting Retail Display Ideas Online

Utilize Digital Signage & Programmable Lights 

The rapid evolution of LED lighting has transformed interior and exterior retail signage. That includes not only static signs but also digital signage and programmable, color-adjustable lights. For example, LED lights can now mimic neon signs at a fraction of the cost while offering an even greater range of creativity. Along with years of trouble-free maintenance. 

Digital signage offers three advantages: creative, informational, and programmable. Many fast-food restaurants now show their menus on large monitors or LED panels. The digital menus are more visually attractive, often with dynamic video backgrounds showing the food being prepared or customers enjoying their meal. The signs can be updated quickly to reflect new or discontinued items or change prices. It also makes it easy to switch from breakfast to dinner menus on the fly. 

For most businesses that face the public–especially retail– digital signage can be immensely valuable. The real-time control over what messages appear mixed with the beautifully bright, crisp marketing materials that just aren’t possible with traditional signage make this a no-brainer for many companies.

Exhibits NW has worked with digital everything and we can certainly help to facilitate the adoption of this tool. But perhaps more importantly, we can help integrate the new hardware and the content it displays into the overall layout of the store.

Digital Signage

Don’t Forget These Digital Signage Considerations

Digital signage needs to be legible in order to be effective, which is why it’s usually best to go with a larger font size. The font itself should also be simple and easy to read, so you probably want to avoid too many fancy cursives or distracting italics. It’s also important to think about the colors you use and ensure there is enough contrast. 

Another key consideration is the placement of your digital signage. To find the optimal placement, it’s a good idea to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, experience your retail space from their point of view, and make sure the signage will serve its purpose. 

You should also think about the purpose of the signage. Is it meant to be seen by passersby? To welcome customers into your store? To point them in the right direction? Or to share specific product information while they shop?

Knowing the purpose of your signage will also help inform the design. If the goal is to draw people in, a more creative and bold design may be needed. But if the purpose is to inform, you’ll want to keep it simple, clean, and to the point. Working with an experienced digital signage company is often the best way to ensure you meet your specific goals. 

retail display ideas for digital signage

Treat Your Store Like a Guided Tour

Most stores are segmented into product or service categories. Why? Because it seems logical and that’s how it’s always been done. Putting the ketchup next to the mustard and the shoes near the socks makes sense but it doesn’t offer much of an experience or tell a story. For many shoppers that may be just fine. 

However, many supermarkets are now designing the layout to be functional and fun. Take for example Stew Leonard’s in Connecticut. Dubbed the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” by the New York Times, Stew Leonard’s is not only known for its farm-fresh foods at a great value but also as a fun place for families to shop because of the costumed characters, scheduled entertainment, petting zoo, and animatronics throughout the stores.

Another obvious example is IKEA which has a “fixed path” design.  — there’s a designated path through the store in one direction. In most stores, customers only see about 33% of the merchandise, but IKEA’s fixed path means you stay in the store longer and see most of the brand’s products.

By creating an engaging store experience, customers are emotionally aroused and receptive to impulse buying. This is a psychological principle known as the Gruen Effect. The Gruen Effect (also called the Gruen Transfer) describes the moment people enter a store and are engrossed in an intentionally overwhelming experience. This causes them to forget their original reason for going to the shop, so they tend to make more impulse purchases. Customers also lose track of time and become engrossed in this new experience.

Treat Your Store Like a Museum

Every store is a museum with exhibits that are so great that people want to buy them. But unfortunately, so many retail display ideas are about putting products in shoppers’ faces as if to say, “Here, want it?” instead of telling a story.

An example of a museum-like retail display can be seen with high-end designer clothing stores, like Dior in London or Fendi in Rome, where the purses and shoes are displayed like works of art to be revered. But every store could be doing something similar – even if their prices don’t match these high-end brands – with museum pedestal display cases or similar fixtures that draw attention to one product.

Retail Display Ideas: Treat Your Store Like a Museum

Consider Organizational Ideas for Retail Display

When it comes to organizing and displaying your products in a retail space, you’ll want to do so in a way that creates visual interest and invites the customer to explore different areas. So rather than using just one kind of clothing rack throughout your shop, strive to organize and display your products in a variety of different ways. That being said, you want things to look clean and tidy at all times, so avoid too much clutter. 

Below are just a few different ways to organize and display your products: 

  • Slatwall panels
  • Perforated panels 
  • Hanging shelves 
  • Floating or invisible shelves 
  • Photo ledges 
  • Stacked wooden crates 
  • Floating boxes 
  • Ladders 
  • Suspended bars 
  • Display cases 
  • Freestanding displays 
  • Entryway displays
  • Window displays 
  • Endcap displays 
  • Display tables 
  • And so much more! 

Of course, what you choose will really depend on the type of product or service you’re promoting. Oftentimes, the best way to organize or display any specific product is with a custom solution that’s designed with the specific product in mind. 

retail display

Incorporate Custom Retail Displays and Fixtures

Retailers are increasingly investing in custom displays and fixtures. That’s not to say that traditional display cases, clothing racks, slat walls, grid walls, and gondolas are going away. However, as retailers look for ways to design store experiences and move away from a “stacking them high and watch them fly” business model, they are increasingly investing in experiential store designs with complementary fixturing. 

This shift from making the product fit the fixture to designing the fixture to fit the product is not necessarily new. But what was once the exception has become the rule as retailers (and manufacturers) take a more integrated approach to their branding. 

retail display ideas for digital signage

It’s a World Full of Retail Display Ideas!

Over the years, we’ve been assisting thousands of clients on a wide range of retail projects including store design, fixtures, displays, and events. Not surprisingly… every single one began with a casual conversation.  

At Exhibits NW, we specialize in designing and building captivating 3D structures for events, retail, and trade shows. Give us a call today to see how we can help you inspire and reinvent your retail business.

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If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.