How to Display Apparel in Retail Stores

Apparel displays will entice people to try on and purchase clothing.
Apparel displays will entice people to try on and purchase clothing. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Proper apparel display can greatly affect a retail store's revenue, for better or for worse. It is important to know the target market as well as the brand image that your store is trying to achieve. Apparel displays are not just about hanging clothes and folding T-shirts; they are also about effectively displaying the items on mannequins so customers can see them in action, as well as engaging customers in order to increase revenue. Change the apparel often to keep the store looking fresh and appeal to both new and repeat customers.

Use the right retail displays. Light fixtures and shelving units should mach the apparel and design of the store. For example, country style retailers should use wooden retail displays to complement the store's theme, while urban stores should use exposed metal and modern furnishings. Wooden clothing racks give the store an upscale look, as opposed to plastic racks. The same principle applies to lighting and wall paint color; for those looking to create a vibrant and bright retail store, use bold paint colors. Glass shelving and minimal lighting creates a more elegant retail store atmosphere. Retail display items include display cases, slat walls, clothing racks, gondola shelving and mannequins.

Accessorize properly. It is important use the proper display accessories. Retailers who carry bulk merchandise should use wire displays or dump bins, as these will allow easy display of unpackaged items. Wire basket shelves and wire bins are lightweight and can be easily relocated in the store as needed. They also make it easy for customers to see what is inside. Apparel stores selling sunglasses, jewelry, hats or other small items will need to use jewelry displays as well as merchandising displays.

Make good use of front-facing widows to draw in customers. Lucky apparel retailers who have a widow facing foot or car traffic should create an effective widow display. The display should still allow potential customers walking past to see the inside of the store. The window should be clean and free of any streaking, as dirty windows will damper even the most attractive of displays. The actual display should be asymmetrical and at eye level to catch the eye. The main item, also known as the focal point, should be in the center. Window displays should be effectively lit to draw attention and display the apparel at night as well as during the day.

Engage the customer. Placing apparel items on a shelf or rack is not enough to engage customers. Many retailers find ways to remind their customers of items they might have forgotten to put on the list. One of the most common and effective ways to do this is to place signs and posters throughout the store. For example, the sign may feature a model in the store's summer apparel and ask the customer if they are ready for summer of fun in the sun. These types of questions will get the customer thinking about summer items they might need for the upcoming summer season. Signs should also feature new sales and deals on apparel to further engage customers.

Use video displays. Video displays are an effective way to market merchandise. Apparel stores can feature video clips with their apparel items being modeled on a runway, or may feature style tips. Video is another great way to engage customers in a store.

Use mannequin displays. Mannequins can be a retail store's best sales person. They display the latest trends and can feature extras such as sunglasses, handbags and other accessories, styled to attract the attention of the store's target customer. Most customers apt to purchase items they can see being used or worn, and mannequins can show off the products in action. Also, mannequins never move or take breaks, so no customers will miss the display.

Place impulse items near the register. Impulse items in an apparel store may include gloves, hats, sunglasses, jewelry, nail polish, lotions or lip gloss. The increase sales by giving the customer that final purchase option while waiting in line.

Tips & Warnings

  • Feature coupon offers or display great deals on signs to encourage customers to buy more for less money.
  • Apparel stores that also sell perfumes, nail polish, lotions and other such items should create a "try-me" section to gain customer trust and create buzz around the products.
  • Keep displays fresh by exchanging last season's items with new season items.
  • Keep shelves and stores clean and neat.
  • Create a theme when the holidays or season changes are approaching.
  • Install a security system to prevent shoplifting from apparel displays.

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