Looking without seeing

Posted: May 31, 2024

Click to view June 2024 Southern Jewelry News.

This article was originally posted in the June 2024 edition of Southern Jewelry News.

During a recent trip to a conference, a friend asked me to stop by his jewelry store for a quick analysis of his displays and perhaps a few suggestions on how they could be improved. Sales were flat and he was looking for help.

When I walked into the store my friend was busy looking at a diamond in a ring brought in by a customer. He was very precise in grading the color and clarity of the stone. He spoke of a small inclusion and the slight shades of yellow he saw. Given my reasonably mediocre eyesight (not to mention a slight color blindness to pinks), I was struck by how well his talents were being professionally presented. He saw things in that stone that I would never have noticed.

The customer commented that she also, had never even noticed the attributes he had shown her in her ring. After she left, he and I began to look at his store and the displays. In the blink of an eye, my friend transitioned from a detailed observer of minor nuances to being virtually blind to his own surroundings.

His store was presentable, but definitely had it’s own “inclusions.”

His displays were only a few years old, but due to the inferior quality of materials used and construction, they were not doing his merchandise any service. Several of the risers had medium brown glue visible on the white leatherette at the seams. (Not unexpectedly, that glue migration is common on Chinese displays made by lesser quality firms with poor quality control) I suggested we discard the platforms and replace them with new ones.

The leatherette material had turned to a pale yellow shade of its own in the case. Again, cheaper quality displays made of inferior materials are notorious for such fade. I suggested we swap out these yellow displays for some that presented well.

He had ordered his displays during a special sale the distributor was offering and not based on his merchandise. Therefore he had lots of individual displays and a few high quantity trays. Any ring he had was destined to either be in a display alone or in a tray with 6 others. This eliminated a good-better-best display approach that works so well. (FYI- In this approach, the “best” rings are in individual elements, the “better” ones are in trays of 3 and the “good” rings are in trays of 5) I suggested we get some 3-ring trays for this case to put this proven strategy into place.

A showcase in a high traffic area near the door of the store was full of Men’s Jewelry. I said that I assumed therefore that the Men’s category was a good seller. “No, not really, but my stock all fits into that 3’ showcase,” was the reply. (Uh, ok.) I suggested that we replace the merchandise in that case with fashionable diamond goods that would be new to the store. The men’s goods could go elsewhere. The placement of merchandise in a store layout is not a decision to be made without careful thought and intention. Make these decisions carefully.

The pendant LED lights above the showcases seemed to be underperforming. One had a yellowish cast and they just did not have the punch you’d expect being only 5’ or so above the cases. Again, initial cost had been the deciding factor in their purchase. I gave him the name of a firm with excellent lights that have a 5 year warranty to remain brilliant – at an overall store cost of less than $200 total above what he had spent on the deficient lights. Buy Home Depot lights for your home, not for your store, where they are on all week and need to hold their color, or your goods will look dull.

We talked some about his windows and their purpose. Their goal is to cause people to come into the store, and unless he has a lot of walk-by traffic, should contain big items and attractive signage.

We removed all smaller items from the wall cases behind his showcases that required binoculars to see by the customer.

We added some signs with monthly payments for higher priced items in his better cases.

We put in place a “Top 10 Gift Ideas” program that took about an hour from start to finish to do.

Lastly we ordered more program trays to make the purchase of diamond studs, pendants, crosses and other goods easier.

In a matter of less than 2 hours on-site, my friend was very pleased with the ideas and suggestions. He said that some of the observations I had made were things he had never even noticed in his store before.

I was drawn to the similarity of his comment and the one from his recent diamond customer. All too often we do not see what is obvious because we do not look. There is a difference between “seeing and really looking.” We allow ourselves to be caught in our cycle of daily repetition.

Take time in your daily routine, to come out from behind the showcase and really look at your presentation. Look for areas where improvements can be made. Look at your use of your showcases. Look at your lights and cases. Look at your store sales goals for guidance on how to allocate your showcase space. Look at your costs for any new displays as an investment in your sales. Look at your store with the same insight you bring to your diamonds. You might be pleasantly surprised with the increased sales you see. He was.