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Maximizing Your Storefront: How to Increase Foot Traffic in a Retail Store

6-minute read

Kristin Vegh

Kristin Vegh

18 July 2023

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Maximizing Your Storefront: How to Increase Foot Traffic in a Retail Store

No one understands how to make a sale quite like a small business owner. Running a small shop means knowing how important it is to offer personalized customer service. It’s one of the reasons why some people still prefer to shop in person. A personal touch is something that big- box stores and online retailers can rarely provide.

Something else that bigger sellers can’t provide is a curated and unique visual marketing aesthetic. Having a brick-and-mortar storefront offers some great opportunities to make your shop stand out. Signage, color scheme, window displays, and even interior layout have the potential to work together to create a memorable and exciting shopping experience.

But how exactly do you make the most of your storefront? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we’ve compiled a list of best practices and tips for making your storefront shine, and why your business’s aesthetic matters.

Why Your Storefront Matters to Your Business

Looks aren’t everything. At least that’s how the old adage goes. And often it holds true! However, while looks aren’t everything, that doesn’t mean they should be disregarded in every scenario. Aesthetics matter when you’re aiming for mass appeal. It’s one of the reasons visual marketing is so important.

For retail stores, the way their spaces look may be the difference between getting and losing a sale. A 2019 report revealed that 64% of shoppers surveyed have left a store without purchasing anything due to a cluttered or poorly maintained retail space. Customers will notice if a store is messy or homely. This alone is a good incentive for making your storefront and the space visually appealing. But how else can an attractive storefront benefit you?

A look inside

Just like eyes are the windows to the soul, a glass storefront is the window to your retail space. Literally. Your front windows can reveal a lot about your store. If passers-by look in and see a store filled with other shoppers, that might entice them to step inside to see what all the action is about. Additionally, your windows allow you to put your best foot forward. Be sure to display your most popular or attention-grabbing stock where window shoppers can see them.

Stand out

Whether your store is on a bustling main street or part of a more suburban plaza, there’s a good chance you have competitors nearby. It’s easy for commercial spaces to blend together. Maximizing your storefront can help stop your store from becoming just another face in the crowd. An eye-catching front window display can be a great way to make your small business stand out from its neighbors. It’s difficult to pass by a shop with a display that attracts your attention.

Visual Merchandising Ideas to Increase Foot Traffic

So how exactly do you create an exciting and endearing storefront? Keep in mind that every small business owner has different goals and target customers, so visual marketing that works for one may not work for someone else. However, these are our best tips for building a storefront that’s completely your own and will draw customers inside.

Bold signage.

Store signs might seem like a formality, but the reality is that a great sign can attract customers like moths to the flame. They’re a great way to quickly convey your brand’s messaging.

While the primary sign featuring your store name might be the only thing people notice when they drive by, window signs highlighting your sales and promos may be what entices potential customers to pull over and come on in. Also, neon displays can make your storefront look fun and inviting.

A curbside sign can also be a great way to get creative. An A-frame chalkboard sign allows you to change up your messaging, make interesting designs, and even get silly with it. Who doesn’t love quippy wordplay? Even if it’s not your cup of tea, it’s still a great way to help make your storefront more appealing. And speaking of appealing…

Curb appeal.

You have just a short time to make a good first impression, so make that impression count. Signs are only part of the equation. There are multiple pieces to the storefront puzzle. When you look at your storefront, do you see an exterior that’s inviting and intriguing? Will it appeal to the customers you target?

Your front windows should give a hint as to what your business has to offer. When creating a window display, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t go overboard. Sometimes less is more, and a cluttered display can be overly busy and off-putting.
  • Showcase your best products. Make sure you’re using your most popular goods in the display. They’re likely popular for a reason! If your existing customers like them, there’s a good chance prospective customers will, too.
  • Add some flare. A window display shouldn’t just be a selection of items arranged in a simple line. Get creative with it. Mannequins, furniture, and other props can help you tell a story and make something unique that will catch any customer’s eye.
  • Consider your lighting. Lighting is important in retail and commercial spaces to ensure the offerings look appealing and the store feels inviting. Make sure your space is well-lit and can be seen from the front windows. The right lighting is one element that helps create an atmosphere (more on that later).
  • Switch it up. An eye-catching window display will grab eyes for only so long before it feels stale. Change your display design periodically. Also, changing it seasonally can help keep your storefront looking fresh and interesting.

Stimulate the senses.

Ambiance. It’s often what separates boutique shops from warehouses. It elevates the shopping experience. It’s also, however, a fairly vague concept, and achieving it isn’t always a linear journey.

When trying to create the atmosphere you want, a good place to start is with these four sensory elements.

  1. Color. The color palette you choose for your shop can help give it a sense of identity. You’ll be remembered for your bright, vibrant colors, or your austere, darker shades, or even your neutral, minimalist aesthetic.
  2. Scent. Your sense of smell is more important than you may think. Smells have a strong tie to our memories and emotions. A clean or evocative scent has the potential to keep customers in your shop longer, and even entice them to come back.
  3. Lighting. We touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating. Utilize lighting that showcases your products and looks inviting. Overhead lighting may be more efficient, but it can cause things to blend together. Look for lighting opportunities that will make your shop look welcoming and pleasant.
  4. Music. Sound matters. You might not realize how important music is until you shop somewhere without it. It sets the tone — quite literally — for your space, so choose wisely. Identify your target customers and think about how you want them to feel when they shop with you. Calm? Excited? Inspired? Try to curate a playlist that you think best fits those feelings.

Optimize your layout.

The exterior of your store location is just the beginning. The interior design of your retail space could make a huge difference for your customers. You want your products front and center, but it’s important that things don’t end up looking crowded or cluttered.

That’s where being intentional with your floor plan and interior design can come in handy. We’ve all found ourselves trying to navigate crowded shopping spaces, whether they’re bustling grocery stores or cramped antique shops. It’s not fun! Not only should customers be able to find what they need — they also should be able to do so without carefully tiptoeing around displays or bumping into other patrons.

Be sure to make your walkways clear and wide enough to allow customers to move around freely. This will make for a better shopping experience, and even potentially reduce the risk of slips and falls.

Be Prepared for What’s In Store

When business is booming, it typically indicates that your hard work is paying off, and your shop is poised for growth. The more customers in your store, the more opportunities you have to make sales — and even upselling.

But with increased foot traffic comes increased responsibility. Or at least, increased risk. It’s important to make sure you have the right protection for your small business’s growing needs.

That’s where BOP insurance comes in. A business owner’s policy (BOP) can include multiple types of insurance, and is a great option for store owners looking for coverage without having to juggle multiple policies. BOP insurance typically bundles:

  1. Commercial property
  2. Business interruption
  3. Optional add-ons, such as cyber and employee theft

Please pay particularly close attention to the BOP product you end up purchasing since included coverages can vary.

Not sure where to start? Simply Business® can help with that. We work with small businesses to find commercial coverage options that can change as the business grows. Just like you showcase your best and most popular products based on your target customers, we can help you shop popular policy types and customizations for your industry from leading carriers. With our free online quote tool, you can have a quote ready in minutes. It’s that easy.

Get Insured in Under 10 Minutes

Get an affordable & customized policy in just minutes. So you can get back to what matters: Your business.

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Bring Your Storefront to the Forefront

The look of commercial spaces isn’t always the most inspiring. When you set up your shop, you’re often beginning with a blank slate. Take this as an opportunity to make your storefront stand out from the crowd. Explore and find your store’s visual identity.

And don’t forget: your work doesn’t end once you land on a storefront design. It’s important to keep your displays fresh. Switch things up, try new things. Figure out what works best. Does your current display have customers chatting with you about it? That could be a mark of success and can increase your creative decisions moving forward.

When you put effort into your visual identity, you might find that it does a lot of the heavy lifting from there. Every eye you catch is an opportunity — make the most of it.

Kristin Vegh

Written by

Kristin Vegh

After several years of working in insurance while also freelance writing, I've finally found where the two interests intersect. I'm a writer with Simply Business with an insurance processing background and a love of research.

Kristin writes on a number of topics such as small business trends, license reciprocity, and BOP insurance.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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