Harrods goes live with innovative digital signage in window display


Adrain Cotterill who writes the excellent Daily Digital out of Home blog, sent me a heads-up this morning about a new window display being unveiled at Harrods.

For US centric readers, Harrods is based in the UK, and is one of the premiere department stores in Europe along with the likes of KaDeWe from Germany or Printemps of France. The US doesn’t have a true equivalent in terms of eclectic and comprehensive product assortment, but I suppose the closest comparison would be to a premium Macys.

In any case, the new Harrods windows features a display technology called Itrans provided by Screen Technology Limited. The technology allows for super-bright daylight viewable video images that can be configured into irregular shapes. The Harrods window features a series of modules configured in the shape of an "L".

I assume the display is being used to display full-motion video rather than static images, and I’m eager to hear what length of clips and how many different spots the Harrods windows designers intend to run.


I’d expect to see the spots be very short, since they have to capture attention and delivery their messages instantly.

Regardless, I love the idea of the irregular shaped display. The Psychologists call it the "Orienting Reflex", an innate human disposition to give more attention to the unusual/unexpected. (Biologists point out that the OR response helped keep early humans alive by noticing predators, changes to the environment, etc…).

We’ve all spent our whole life looking at landscape oriented 4:3 (or now 16:9) TV screens. They seem neither unusual or unexpected to us, and most of us have become expert at tuning them out. That’s why I’m a much bigger fan of using monitors in portrait mode. Harrods use of an "L" shaped display is even better.

Of course it’s no surprise that Harrods (a world class practitioner of window displays) would know how to best leverage our most basic psychological responses to capture our attention. For most of the history of retail, the dressing of display windows has been considered the highest form of art in retail visual merchandising. It used to be common for talented students to study theater in school (for the great lighting and staging experience) and go on to apprentice for a top window dresser for many years before getting a chance to do their own windows.

Sadly, in the US as urban sprawl became the norm, and retail migrated from city centers to indoor mega-malls, windows displays became somewhat of a small niche. As we are currently seeing a shift back to city center retailing, it will be interesting to see if great windows displays re-emerge. I hope they do.


  1. Indeed, it is human behaviour to give more attention to the unusual/unexpected.

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing.


  1. […] no problem believing digital signage can be an effective tool in a window display (see my recent Harrods post).  But most successful windows displays are designed to draw you into the store.  In […]

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