The Art of Retail Signage: Designing Effective Displays for Your Store

Creating the perfect in-store retail displays is an art. It takes planning, careful consideration, and attention to detail to create an effective display that draws customers into your retail store.

You will also want to make sure you place effective signage around your display to communicate sales, promotions, and product information.

In-store visual merchandising draws' attention to products, drives sales, and improves the customer experience.

If you are looking to up your display designing game, there are some things to consider before starting. Then, we’ll dive into the elements of building an effective visual display.

Why are In-Store Displays Important?

Effective visual merchandising is important to your retail business. According to Shopify, “the average shopper makes 3 unplanned purchases in 4 out of every 10 stores they visit.” Many of these unplanned purchases are due to visual displays in-store.

Displays don’t only push products, though. They also give your customers an impression of what kind of business you are. Based on how you build your display, you can attract a target audience.

Product displays can also show your brand and your personality. How you display your items says a lot about what kind of business you have. Sleek, modern displays appear more trendy, for example.

Retail businesses can encourage customers to spend more time in the store and influence purchasing decisions based on how they set up their displays.

Things to Consider Before Building the Display

Before you drag out your tape, stapler, and glue gun, think about how you want your customers to approach your display. Consider what elements you have to work with and how you and your team are going to maintain the display throughout its life.

Store Layout

First, think about your store’s floor plan. According to Afzal Basha and Reena Shyam in a recent study on Visual merchandising, “The Store Layout and Organization of Shelf Space increases consumer interest in the products.”

Usually, stores are separated into rows, circular paths, or islands. This creates a footpath in your store that customers follow. No matter which your retail business has, it is important that you place your displays in highly visible areas.

Your retail space is valuable and every foot of it should be used to draw attention, increase sales, and improve the customer experience in-store. For example, you could create a window display in a storefront to grab your customers’ attention with a bold first impression.

Another idea is to have displays near areas where customers might pause or frequent. In clothing stores, the fitting room is a great example of this. As customers leave the fitting room after trying on one of your products, they could see a display that encourages them to buy more.

In grocery stores, end caps are another great place to display items. As a customer goes by the end of an aisle, displays of new products here can encourage an impulse buy. Many retail stores use this placement near checkout counters, as well.

Think about how you want your customers to flow through your store and use your displays as a means of directing them along the paths you want them to follow. Your signage will also go a long way in creating this flow of traffic.

You can use your signs to point to other products in the store and flashily advertise sales and promotions meant to bring more customers in. These should end with them, products in hand, at the checkout line.


When you decide where you are placing your displays, next you’ll want to take into account the fixtures within your store. You may have a mixture of shelves, display cases, clothing racks, mannequins, and/or mirrors.

Use these items to help build the flow of your foot traffic as well as to construct your display. You’ll want modular fixtures that are easy to move around to keep your displays fresh and give you the ability to change them as needed.

Also, consider interior design items you can use as well, such as the paint, flooring, decor, and furniture near the display. The colors and patterns of these fixtures can add to your display or distract from them, based on how you use them. This will vary widely based on the products you are displaying.

For example, if you are displaying a floral patterned handbag, having it against a floral patterned wallcovering may make it unnoticeable. Make sure to consider these when designing your display.

Types of Displays

Once you know where you want to put your displays and what fixtures you have, consider the type of display you want to use.

End cap displays are displays at the end of an aisle in a retail store. These often display new items or items on sale. As a customer rounds the corner of an aisle, the sale items are at eye level.

Interactive displays are also popular. These encourage customers to pick up the product and inspect them. These could be attached to a shelf where the customer pushes buttons or simulates using the product to test it before they buy it.

POP displays are temporary displays that you locate near related products to advertise. These can showcase deals and draw attention to exciting items.

Freestanding displays are portable racks that draw attention to specific brands. These are used for merchandise that typically goes unnoticed. These types of displays are usually placed in high-traffic spots.

Dump bins are another display option. These are large containers that house slower-moving merchandise such as stuffed animals and balls. They are non-breakable and can be positioned in these large bins anywhere near the end of an aisle or checkout counter to encourage more purchases of these items.

Entryway displays are racks at the storefront. These draw customers to the store and encourage them to go inside. Window displays are important for visually branding your store. These usually feature high-end items that give an impression of the store's design and aesthetic. They also grab the shoppers’ attention of passersby.

Point-of-purchase displays are set up near the checkout counter or lines with small items that catch the eye and encourage impulse buying. These are only a small sampling of the types of merchandising displays you can include in your retail marketing.

With each of these display types, make sure you are placing your signage where it can be easily seen. This will seal the deal. Customers jump at the idea of getting more for a lower price, and this will help them to make more purchases.


Another consideration to take into account is how you are going to maintain your displays. You want to make sure that they look clean and neat for as long as they are out. A messy, dirty display is not going to attract customers as much as a neat, well-kept one.

You’ll want to decide how frequently this tidying needs to be done. An employee will need to sweep, wipe down surfaces, clean walls and windows, and straighten the merchandise. Also, make sure the signage is still in place. This will help keep the display looking fresh.

Elements of Visual Merchandising

Many professional visual merchandisers are working for large businesses, but if you are a small business working on a small budget, you probably will need to do your visual merchandising. Professionals use the following elements to design an eye-catching display.

Focal Point

A focal point is the place where the eye is most drawn to. This will be where the product, props, and signs all come together. You will want your focal point to draw customers because it is the reason for the display.

If you are having a sale on vases, you would want your whole display to point toward the vase you are trying to sell. It can still have other products there, as well, but the main point is to sell that vase, so no matter what other elements are there, the main draw should be that vase.

Size of Objects

A display will need a mixture of large and small objects to give it variety and balance. Larger objects will need a larger display area. So, if you are selling an ottoman, you’ll want to consider how large your display needs to be to create the right proportions for your ottoman display.

When you put displays together, be sure to put the larger objects into the display first. This will allow you to see what space it takes up. It also makes it easier for you to put in the smaller objects around it.


The color of your product is important, but also the color of your display. A study in 2020 for the Expert Journal of Marketing by Shaip Bytyci suggests: “85% of the respondents choose the color as the main reason by the visual aspect when buying and 15% of the respondents choose the option that referenced other reasons.”

Different colors have different associations based on culture, atmosphere, and individual experience. Yet, people have generalizations about certain colors.

Blue, for example, is associated with calmness. Green with health, good luck, growth, and nature. Red is a warm color full of passion, energy, and love.

Choose colors that evoke the emotions you wish to convey with your display. Also, consider colors that pair well with the products you are showing off, as well.


The lighting of your display will also emphasize the products you are trying to sell. Think about the natural light you have in your display areas. Your retail environment will be influenced by this light. Softer light is more sultry. Brighter light is more cheerful. Your lighting should accent the focal point.


When you are creating your display, try to balance the items asymmetrically. This adds interest to the display. It keeps the eye engaged. The size of the items, colors, and layout can all contribute to the balance of your display.


Don’t clutter your display with too many items. Then, your customers won’t know what to focus on. Try to keep it simple and clean. This is a much better way to draw attention to the products you want to sell.

Digital Signage

Signage is one of the most important aspects of visual merchandising. You want to make sure your signs are clear, easy to see, readable, and visually appealing. These signs may give additional information, explain a sale, highlight the designer of a product, or list the pricing.

You can also add signs that advertise other products or services alongside your display to direct your customers to further explore products online or in another part of the store.

Signs need to be updated regularly to ensure the best information is presented to your customers. Digital signage can be a great addition to a retail store.

They do away with the hassle of having to change your paper signs as promotions change and they give the impression of modernity. The music played in retail stores and digital entertainment creates a certain aesthetic in your business.

Also, shoppers have notoriously small attention spans. Digital signage and digital entertainment can not only draw them in but keep them in the store. If you are looking for a way to entertain your customers while they shop, consider adding LoopTV to your digital signage.

We offer sophisticated signage solutions to highlight your site, in-store promotions, menus, upcoming events, and more. We are a free music video, business TV, and digital signage service that will entertain your customers with music videos, sports, lifestyle news, and kid's channels.

Final Thoughts

Designing effective displays takes time, consideration, and planning. But, when it is done right, you can influence your customer’s buying habits to suit your retail business’s needs. Visual displays use signs and aesthetics to communicate to the buyer.

They also help to direct your customer along a footpath in your store that encourages them to see more of your merchandise. The colors, balance, scale, and lighting of your display can add to the visual effects. The better your display looks, the more people will be drawn to it.

If you are looking to increase your sales, try revamping the way you do your in-store displays.