Did you know that a well-planned focal wall (feature wall) can increase sales by 229%?  Or that retail displays in general can increase sales by 540%?

In fact, 83% of your customer’s experience is coming in through their sense of sight.  That’s right.  Humans are overwhelmingly visual when digesting information in comparison to our other senses. This statistic should come as no surprised for the experienced retailer.  By honing in visually on a group of products in a well-trafficked area of a your store, you’ve created a focal wall.

Every inch of your store costs you money.  Now, think of the areas in your store that have the potential to make you money – by way of focal walls (aka a feature wall).

What is a Focal Wall?

By definition, a focal wall is a wall or area whose design differs from the design of the other sections of your store. The purpose of using a focal wall in your retail store is to draw your customers to a specific area to promote a product or multiple products.  By using focal walls, you are telling a story with products in hopes that customers will feel an emotional connection.  In turn, your customers will buy!  As a visual merchandiser, you should put deep thought into where you are going to place your focal wall. It is smart to strategically place focal walls near the entrance to your store.  A prominent area that everyone is sure to see after their first impressions of storefront windows and the decompression zone.  This is your chance to make a lasting impression.

Focal walls can go by many names in the retail design world:

  • Feature Wall
  • Accent Wall
  • Focal Point
  • Focal Area

How to Create the perfect Focal/Feature Wall

There are a plethora of ways to create beautiful and interesting focal walls.  Don’t forget the point of a focal wall is to draw attention to the story you’re trying to tell.  Its very important to bring personality to this frequently traveled area of your store.  For a creative mind, building a focal wall’s story should be a fun task.  A common goal of any successful merchandiser is to treat every customer as if they are a first-time customer.  You want to make a lasting impression each season that customer decides to enter your store, so get creative and have fun with it!

Make your focal/feature wall near the entrance to your store.

First impressions are incredibly important when bringing customers through the door.  Which is why we suggest staging your “feature wall” somewhere near the entrance so customers see your story right off the bat.  If you have a larger space to work with, you can incorporate a feature wall per area or department of your store.

There has been a use for a focal (aka feature) wall as shown below since the 1950’s!

Feature Wall Focal Wall accent wallFeature wall focal wall accent wall
Pictured above: Men and Women’s departments of Bloomingdale’s in Hackensack, New Jersey in 1959
Photo cred: Collector’s Weekly

Evoke emotion in your focal/accent wall areas.

Playing on the fact 83% of your customers experiences are based on sight, doing whatever you can do to get visually creative on your retail accent wall is more than important.  There are many ways to succeed when creating a eye-catching focal/accent wall.  Don’t be afraid to bring emotion into the design of your accent wall.  Try using a sense of humor to evoke emotion out of your customer regarding your display’s personality.  In turn, this causes your customer to trust your brand and merchandised product.  If you build that sense of trust, this could convert that one-time shopper into a loyal repeat customer.

Use a combination of props and graphics to tell a story within your display.

Transform the typical signage filled displays by adding real-life props to your focal wall area.  Its important to state a clear message to your customer by using a wide array of signage possibilities.  Try using a combination of different fonts and graphics with real-life props.  Tell stories by cross merchandising your various product offerings in with these graphics, signage and real-life props.  The wide variety of chalkboard signs and blackboard blocks from IDD’s Park Hill Collection make a great addition to any feature area.  As a bonus, these signs can be used over and over again!

Below you’ll see how Nordstrom’s subtly incorporated custom graphics to entice customers to follow their social media on the pillars behind their focal area.

Focal Wall Feature Wall Accent Wall
Photo cred: Nordstroms

Prime Times to Switch Up a Feature Wall

A feature wall or area of your store needs to be fluid.  This is a very important area that many, if not all, customers will see.  A feature wall should be changed at least every season.  Ideally, your feature wall should be changed with each “marketing holidays”.  Get creative and tell a story about a not-so-popular holiday.  There’s a full-list of unique American holidays, here.

Some important retail holidays include:

  • Christmas
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Fall/Thanksgiving
  • Back-to-School
  • Summer/Beach
  • Memorial Day
  • Fourth of July

Target is an expert in getting their stores ready for Back-to-School season.

Target Back-to-School Pencil Ceiling Directionals

Here is another wildly creative way to catch a customer’s eye during back-to-school season:

Resultado de imagen de visual merchandising systems
Photo cred: Pinterest

Now, you not only can define what a focal wall is, but you have the tools you need to create that very special area in your retail establishment.  If its not coming natural, that’s okay. Even the best of the best merchandisers get stumped at times.  Feel free to reach out with any questions in the comments below and our experts can help get you on the right track to a beautifully displayed store!  Do you have suggestions that could help other readers, we would also love to hear those in the comments below.