Are retail stores obsolete?

The short answer is a ‘no’. The long answer is a bit more of a walkaround. Yes, online retail is beginning to dominate the retail scene and about 70% of all shopping trips begin online. In other words, even if you are a retailer who sells primarily through a physical outlet, your online presence including accurate map locations and contact information as well as reviews about your product are very important.

When a customer walks in to make a purchase, your offline reality needs to corroborate what they’ve seen online. In other words, retail outlets aren’t going anywhere soon, but they need to become part of a larger ecosystem of brand messaging as opposed to just centers for transactions to happen.

Here are a few retail storefront ideas that we think will take over in 2018. We have sorted the ideas by the product category so we have something for every retailer- apparel, accessories, bath and body, electronics and home furniture.

Apparel Display Ideas


In the last three years, more than 4% of revenue from apparel sales has moved from offline stores to their online counterparts. Today’s consumer has access to brands from around the world and trends right off the runway with the click of a button.

In such a situation, how does a clothing retail store stand out? By using all available storefront space to advertise. Some ideas:

  • ‘Looks under $50’
  • ‘Buy these looks online for 10% off’
  • ‘Try these looks before you buy online’
  • Display apparel at unexpected heights and angles. For example, show mannequins coming out of the floor or in an acrobat setting.
  • Dress the walls. Ditch the mannequins and dress stick figures on your walls.
  • Adapt to the product. For example, if you sell glow-in-the-dark shirts, be sure to display them in a darkened box. Likewise, if you sell cold-shoulder tops, a great idea would be to just turn the air conditioning to full blast in the section so your customers get a feel for what is being displayed.

Accessory and Jewelry Display Ideas

Accessories are interesting products to work with as far as displays go. There is literally no one on the planet who can pass by a jewelry display without even glancing at it. Accessories like jewelry are easy to showcase as they are naturally attractive and garner attention. Here are a few jewelry display ideas for you to try.

Jewelry Display

  • Broaden the theme. If the theme of your jewelry is New York City, be sure to display the jewelry on motifs that represent high skylines, sharp edges, and architectural renders. For example, show an under-construction model of a skyscraper and hang jewelry all around.
  • Pair statement jewelry pieces with clothing so customers have a better idea of how a product might look in real life.
  • Go rustic. People love to see products displayed on natural elements such as branches and leaves. Even better, hang the branches from the ceiling at a visible height and display jewelry there. Be sure not to lose any of it though!
  • Use the rule of three. Display products in order of their attributes. So the large earrings go on one end while the smaller ones go on the other.

Other Accessories


Jewelry is just one aspect of accessorizing. We have bags, wallets, shoes, watches- the list almost seems endless. Here are a few ideas to get you started on some of these products.

  • For watches, try something new. If a watch is water-resistant, consider immersing it in a fish tank for visual drama. Likewise, if watches have a theme or design thinking involved, use the same themes to create anything from a forest floor to a multi-hued display rack.
  • Bags and wallets are easy to display because they are, most often, dramatic in themselves. You can display bags of contrasting colors next to each other to make them stand out. Pair bags with wallets, cardholders and coin pouches to complete the look.
  • Shoes are a statement unto themselves. Stilettos and wedges can be placed a certain distance apart for the finer details to stand out. Some stores make the mistake of grouping all high-heeled shoes together. However, nothing mixes things up like different varieties of shoes complying with the same theme. This way, consumers instandtly know that they have options.

Bath and Body Display Ideas


Lush is famous for their range of bath and body products that use natural ingredients. What they also stand out for is their store display and layout. A riot of colors, product styles, and display drama hit you as soon as you enter a Lush store- and this is also the brand’s message. Bath and body products are much more intimate than most other product categories, so it is important to make a statement that is your own.

For example, The Body Shop is all about cruelty-free, fair trade natural products. This is highlighted by their use of tropical prints and simple messages all around their stores. Some ideas you can try include:

  • Using wooden bases and backgrounds to help the products stand out.
  • Placing products under cloches and bell jars for a whimsical feel.
  • Pebbles and natural elements like water add great emphasis to these products. If you can, you may even consider building a model of a waterfall in your store.
  • Products such as lip balms can be placed within reach in ice cream cones, or in glass jars.
  • Soaps can be mixed up and stored on a wooden tray at the counter for customers to pick up on impulse.

Electronic Goods Display Ideas

When it comes to electronic goods, there’s nothing that works as well as a working machine. This is why smartphones are always displayed as they are in working condition, as are television sets and speakers.

  • Consider going the extra mile and offering consumers drinks and ice from a refrigerator. The same goes for coffee makers. Think of your fastest moving product and find a way to move it even faster.
  • Avoid natural elements such as plants as they may clash with the idea of technology.
  • Space your products well. Seeing four microwave ovens in a row only causes decision fatigue.
  • In 2018, technology sells technology. Consider including an audio walkthrough of your store for each product category such that consumers scan a product’s barcode and get all relevant information about it.

Home Furniture Display Ideas


When it comes to home furniture and furnishings, there is nearly nothing that hasn’t been done already. Hence, think of ways to do the same things, differently.

  • Consider furnishing a space that is more aspirational than readily available. For example, furnish a space that looks like a treehouse or a flaoting island home. You can create the illusion with wall decals. Also, keep the product description tags witty. For a treehouse piece, you can think along the lines of ‘light enough to carry up to the treehouse’.
  • For every product, provide an option to scan the QR code and see the product in your online store for easy checkout. This way, your consumers can buy what they want and have it shipped without ever having to queue up at the checkout counter.
  • Sell furnishings along with furniture. This way, they make a coherent set, look good and are therefore more likely to get picked up.

How are you dressing up your storefront this year? Share pictures in the comments and stand a chance to be featured in one of our future write-ups.

Armed with a degree and a pen, loves to tell stories. When not telling stories, she also works. Hard to decide which one she likes more.