Storefront design in 9 steps - A guide for a great storefront

How to design a storefront

1. Introduction

This guide is for small and middle-sized non-food stores with little or limited brand awareness. (not Apple or Zara). The most successful storefronts are those that:

  • Works with the architecture of the larger building.
  • Enhance your brand and comply with the rules of your brand book.
  • Simply clearly mark the name of the business or logo, and the type of services offered.
  • Allow potential customers visibility into the store’s well-stocked and orderly aisles.
  • Contribute to a distinctive pedestrian and customer experience.

2. Understanding the purpose of the storefront

In retail, you have four steps to become successful:
The purpose of the storefront is to get people inside.

Principles of a successful store concept

Your storefront and window display is the cover of a book, not a newspaper front page. Too many poorly designed storefronts look like they are the front page of a newspaper, too cluttered. Please keep it simple and try to tell your story with simple images, text, and a limited range of products in the window.

3. Anatomy of a storefront

4. Door

Keep the door(s) clean and clear of any messages or stickers. You want a maximum view of the store. Don’t put any messages or stickers like payment options. If you need to put messages such as opening hours or contact information, put it next to the door. Clean the door once a day or several times a week since it is the first contact that your clients encounter with your retail business.

5. Logo and slogan above the door

The area above the door is used to communicate with cars or people who walk on the opposite side of the street. So use large messages. Put your logo big and beautiful. Include a short sentence of what your store is about. Clean this area at least once a year (often forgotten) to leave a good impression.

6. Perpendicular sign 

Perpendicular signage is the essential signage of a store. The purpose of the perpendicular sign to communicate towards cars and pedestrians: “I am here”! The logo is mostly used in the vertical signage but can also be used for the brands the store offers.

7. Left and the right area behind the window inside the store

This area is used for stopping people that walk by. Here you have the opportunity to give details of what your store is about. Since you only have a few seconds to grab attention, use large images of your products or services with large text.

8. Window area

The window area or window displays are to communicate the different categories that you have in your product mix. See it as the Table of Contents of a book. The objective is to inform pedestrians what you offer in your store. So put a few products by category that symbolize the group, not necessarily the products you want to promote. If you’re going to promote products, make a separate display for that. But don’t forget to show all your other categories.

9.  Tips

  • When designing a storefront, consider disabled people with or without a wheelchair.
  • Think about the postman that needs to drop your mail somewhere.
  • Keep the sidewalk coverage in good condition and clean at all times. Especially in the wintertime.
  • Before you start designing the storefront, inform your self what the town regulations are. Most towns have specific laws.
  • Think about where you are going to put the alarm sirene since this is often forgotten and just placed after it’s out of necessity on top of your signage in an ugly way.
  • In countries with cold winters watch out, you don’t get condensation on your window inside. Talk with an expert in ventilation and glass construction.
  • Consider placing special glass with UV filters to avoid damage to the colors of your product.
  • In most countries, the doors need to open towards the outside for safety in case of fire. So in some cases, your doors need to be retracted from the facade to avoid turning outside and hitting pedestrians.

9. In practice: examples of good storefront design

Storefront design Eastpak Carnaby Street

Designing a successful storefront

Signage design of an home improvement store

Signage design of a home improvement store


Last updated byJean-Pierre Bobbaers on July 28, 2020