Visual merchandising in a digital era: Why Instagram-friendly store window displays matter

The store window; much like the old adage that eyes are the window to your soul, the store window has always been ‘window’ to soul of the retailer. Peering in through the window, consumers can tell immediately what the brand/ retailer/ department store is all about. In London, you have the big name department stores: Liberty, Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Selfridges and in New York you have Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. Their exterior facades and shop windows are almost as famous as what’s in store.

But visual merchandising is changing in this Instagram age, and to reflect this shift never has the shop window been more important. Instagram is the ultimate visual tool for brands, retailers and even new start up stores to get their brand message further, wider and more global, making their store a must-visit destination.

For brands encouraging in-store photos and getting shoppers to share brand content with their contacts and other social media users is key. However, the stores that are doing it best realise the importance of thinking beyond the basic product shot or the chelfie (changing room selfie).

“The key is aligning interior design, store windows and overall merchandising strategies with Instagram.”

In this social media age, hashtag trends matter as well as square-ready formats and store window displays that change constantly to keep up with consumer demands. In my role as Visual Merchandising Editor at WGSN some of the best examples I’ve seen recently include:


Cos, recently teamed up with Brooklyn studio Snarkitecture to create a pop-up store with cut-out garment silhouettes that consumers could stand in and snap a photo.


Designer Yusuke Seki who stacked thousands of plates, cups, saucers and bowls on top of one another to form an elevated display platform in Japanese ceramics store Maruhiro. The 25,000 pieces of crockery, which were all discarded due to imperfections, were filled to the brim with concrete, converting them into bricks, which are safe enough to walk on.

WGSN_Podolyan Store_Instagram

The Podolyan store in Kiev, which had an interior grid window featuring changing product, so that people walking past would stop and take a picture of it. This square-ready design aligns perfectly with Instagram’s format and acts as a visual prompt in-store and on the street, providing a shareable call-to-action for consumer.

These examples show that VM in a digital age is pushing retailers to be more creative and get immediate feedback from consumers. Personally I think it’s a very exciting time to be reporting on this retail strategy.

For more on the full Instagram-Ready Retail report which looks in-depth at Visual Merchandising and Store Design Trends, join WGSN.

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Photo credits: Snarkitecture, Domus, Yusuke Seki.com

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