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Know Your Retail Window Graphics - Inside & Out!

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

At EP Cowens, part of our product offer is creating attention grabbing visuals for use as retail window graphics.

As the retail environment becomes more competitive, it is even more important to stand out.

Your windows are prime real estate to grab attention.

But, are you making the most of your storefront?

This post looks at some of the innovative media available for retail and commercial window graphics and how to use them to make the most the most impact.

Image of an innovative retail window graphic used in a blog post by EP Cowens Birkenhead

There are three main types of business window graphics:



One-way vision window graphics

And with these three there are important differences for selecting one over the other.

Image of a dot printed window and floorgraphic retail campaign used in a blog post about innovative window retail graphics by EP Cowens

Clear Window Graphics

Clear is the option for a couple of good reasons: you want to either look out through the window or you want the world outside to look in.

Clear window graphics from the inside allows light to enter the store and they keep the interior bright and inviting.

From the outside, they allow the window area behind the glass to be part of the display.

Walk down the high street and analyse the way retailers use clear window graphics to add visual elements to the items behind them: summer themed images on the windows and summer items and accessories behind.

The same with text with formatted words and slogans linking in with the products on show behind.

For clear window graphics we use a couple of different products that cover the bases.

Self cling or static cling works well and we can produce by digital printing using either Vutek or HP Latex depending on quantity, quality and size.

Polyester films are a little more expensive than self clings (PVC) but for clarity, they do outperform PVC.

Viziprint Impress or Solvo-clear are two polyester window films that combine optically clarity with easy-apply abilities. Both have a micro-suckers type adhesive and the manufacturers’ claim they can be taken on and off the window dozens of times and still keep their ‘stickiness’.

We can print white either behind the complete image or over selected parts. This eliminates the image lacking definition when there is nothing behind the ink.

Opaque Window Graphics

White self-adhesive vinyl that can’t be seen through, opaque window graphics are used when either the business premises want to keep the light out and/or stop people looking in.

Often used when a store is being redecorated or renovated, opaque graphics are applied to the exterior side of the windows.

The media we use for these is primarily self-adhesive polymeric vinyl - it doesn’t shrink in the heat or cold and is available with bubble-free/easy apply adhesives.

For a stronger opacity, we can use a grey-backed vinyl.

Image of a retail window graphic used in a blog post about retail window decoration by EP Cowens

One-Way Vision Window Graphics

The brand name here is Contravision. Contravision have products that fit different requirements but the essential function is to let people inside look out whilst keeping the interior private from passers-by.

There are versions specifically for text or hi-def graphics (Contravision HD Performance) and even options for applying internally.

Contravision have got an online guide to help with selecting the right one.

When applying window graphics internally or externally, be aware of the following:

Applying inside

Safe from vandals and no chance of someone living an edge and pulling at it. The vinyls we use once applied, stay down but if its on the outside, people can get at it.

There’s no weather issues when fitting the window graphics inside - rain, snow, hail; none of it matters when its being installed from the inside.

The potential downsides of fitting from the inside looking out are mostly down to the adhesive used and the quality of installation.

As your promotional campaign is going to be viewed throughthe adhesive, if there are blemishes or glue-spots, they could be seen.

Same with ripples when applying - this is where a bubble-free adhesive helps out or the ‘micro-sucker’ products.

Self cling needs the window to be sprayed with water first and the liquid squeegeed out to create the grip between cling and glass. The bigger the panel, the more time and care it will take.

At Cowens, we’ve applied graphics to enough windows to know the pros and cons - talk to us for advice.

Image showing an imaginative printed retail window graphic used in a blog post about retail window graphics by EP Cowens

Applying outside

There are no potential pitfalls from the adhesive or from ‘seeing the image through the glue' when applying the product from outside.

As long as its applied bubble and wrinkle free, it will look fine and most vinyls will stick to glass without any issue. It should also stay in place as long as needed even with changes in weather. Pick a good quality vinyl and it will last in place for years.

So, a bit more to the subject of window graphics than you first thought?

We’ve applied probably thousands of metres of vinyl, cling and one-way vision to windows in all our years of printing and installing graphics. And applied them to retail storefronts, business premises, museums, cafes and leisure facilities up and down the land.

If you’re looking for more advice and help with window graphics or a print partner who’ll get your premises noticed, get in touch on 0151 647 8081 or

Looking for more commercial and retail inspiration? We've got posts on innovative FSDU ideas, fleet branding services and CNC routing for retail displays.

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