Larry Johnson Canadian Jeweller magazine articles

Larry Johnson was a monthly columnist for this prestigious magazine for several years. Some of the best articles are included here. We hope this information is of help to you.

Ten things you can do with your store displays to increase your profits this … and next year!

  1. Clean up your showcases. Get rid of all the extraneous items in your cases that do not directly impact sales. Props that add to the ambience of the store can stay if they are impactful and of good quality. Take out any shiny trim from inside the case (because it shines more than the merchandise!) Take off or move away anything on the tops of the cases that cast shadows on the merchandise underneath.
  2. Get old dead merchandise out of the showcase and in a clearance case.  The average shopper looks at about 5 or 6 items before she decides if your selection is worthy of further examination. If half your stock is old, you just cut your chances of a sale in half!
  3. Use the data from your stores software system to make  display decisions in your store.  One of the first things I do when I go into a store to consult is ask for their “Inventory performance report by merchandise category for the last 12 months.” It tells me what the store is really selling, at what price, profit and markdown . It tells me how much we have in the cases and at what cost. I use that report to decide how much space to allow each category. What price point to feature and what merchandise should not even be in the case. It is like the blood test your physician runs on you during a checkup. You just have to read it.
  4. Put the “Top 10 gift ideas” program in your store cases and keep working it.  This time of year, birthday and anniversary gifts are a big part of the business. Make those sales easy for your customer and yourself with this proven sales plan. If you missed the details of the plan, send me an email at and I’ll send you the details.
  5. Make color mean something in your cases.  Red lights, pink ribbons, blue skies, white flags, all mean something to the viewer. If your cases are a mixture of brown neck-forms, white ring-fingers, black ring trays and a few purple vendor displays, you are confusing the customer and making your cases look like a flea market. If you can afford new displays that match, at least combine your displays into colors and put all one color into a single case.
  6. Recover your floorboards unless they have been done in the last 18 months.  This is the least expensive way to give your cases a visual lift. Order real material (I like Fifield charisma suede) from your display vendor to be sure the fabric doesn’t fade under your lights or emit fumes that will tarnish your merchandise. You’ll be amazed how your regular customers react to the look and find “new” pieces in your cases that you’ve actually had a long time!
  7. Organize your cases into a “Good,Better,Best” arrangement. I suggest my 20-40-40 strategy to make it easy for customers to find what they want. It also avoid that awkward move over to the cheaper case when a client balks at the price of your better goods. Again, send me an email if you want details of this idea.
  8. Promote monthly payments in your store.  I read the other day that 61% of the sales of a major chain jewellery store were made through in-store credit! They are not in the jewellery business, they are a finance company. Having a small sign in your case that say “We offer financing” is not enough. Calculate the monthly payments for that special piece you want to sell and put a small sign (I like the Avery label #5302) with the description, price and $xxx/month on it. This helps the customer see how he/she can afford their dream. You really expect that customer in your store that pays monthly for their apartment, car, phone, student loans, etc. to pay you $19,000 in cash for a ring? Make your store an easy place to buy.
  9. Get your display person some training.  You probably would not let “Matilda” who never went to jewellers training, set stones on your bench or repair watches, just because she really liked doing it and it “looked nice.” You might, however let her rearrange your showcase interior layouts and move things around and DIRECTLY impact your sales because…. things “look nice.” Cases should look nice in museums. Cases in jewellery shops should sell jewellery!  The problem is that you don’t realize how visual merchandising impacts sales. Enroll Matilda in a VM class at the local college or buy her a few books on the subject on Ebay. (Blatant plug, my book, “A complete guide to effective jewelry display” or are also decent places to start)
  10. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.  Do more of the good and change out the ideas that flop. Take pictures of your cases and your windows. When you review your sales for the preceding month, take a moment and look at the photo of that case from last month. What was different about the display? What items were featured? How? What window display brought in more customers?  If you do not analyze the successes and failures of your own stores experiences, how will you learn and grow? Experience is the best teacher. Start listening and taking action.

I hope these ideas are of help to you in improving your store’s performance. If you have other ideas, send them along and I’ll include them in a future column. If you need clarification of any of the ideas included, contact me at Larry Johnson Consulting, 817-980-2135 or

What kind of “restaurant” is your store?

Drive down virtually any busy street in your city and count the restaurants. It staggers the mind to see all the different choices we consumers have each day to get our preferred 3 meals. Fast food, Vietnamese food, Home-cooked food, Food served by tuxedoed waiters by candlelight, Take-out food. There are seemingly thousands of food-service formats.

I have chosen 3 (restaurant-related) jewellry display principles to review in hopes of helping you see your stores selection, display and shopping experience, from a different perspective.

  1. Don’t display your merchandise “buffet-style.” When you visit a cafeteria or a buffet line, you are presented all today’s food choices presented in identically sized, stainless steel bins (usually separated from you by a glass partition) You simply pick and choose what you want with little or no interaction with the serving staff. You point, they spoon, you pay. The servers’ role is very passive. Their job is limited to refilling the bins and dishing it up on demand.  No one calls them salespersons because they are not. They don’t care which entrée you choose even though some items before them in those trays, might be a bit higher priced and possibly more profitable for the owner. It is a self-serve experience.

           If your store presents the merchandise you offer without INTENTION you are possibly at risk of having a buffet style presentation. All the trays are the same size designed to be self-shopped . High end pieces from your selection are presented like all the rest. Your showcases shout “I don’t care which item you buy.”  Your sales staff is silent because the client waved them off 5 minutes ago. Instead, have a plan for your cases. Decide what you want me to see first when I step up to the case. Train your staff to take an active role in helping your clients choose. (Remember how many times in your favorite higher-end restaurant, you have ordered the “Special” described to you by the waitperson. Their short explanations with those emotional adjectives and filled with exotic sauce descriptions have worked their magic.) Your showcase is a workbench for your sales team. Organize it with intention to close the sale of the items you want your clients to buy. Consider my “Top 10 gift idea” concept in your cases as a great way to apply the idea of “intention.” A recent client made 17 sales from the top 10 items in the first 3 days after we implemented it!  (Send me an email requesting  a copy of the idea, if you need it.)

  • Deemphasizing dollars and cents makes sense.

In a Cornell University study, researchers found that menu items priced at “14” significantly outsold the same items in parallel test stores priced at “$14” or “$14.00.” Dollar signs mean money. Numbers (even zeros!) also subconsciously, mean money. Do not put your prices in a larger or more dominant typeface either. The price is just an extension of the information about the jewellery.

  • Always include a expensive bottle of wine (that is way out of your average customers price range) on your wine list. Ever look at a wine list and comment to your companion about the $1500 bottle of wine included on the front page? Who pays those kinds of prices? Answer: Hardly anyone, but the high-ticket item (called a “decoy” in the food trade) does prompt people to open their pocketbook more generously and order a $75 instead of a $40 bottle. People do not like buying the cheapest or the most expensive item on a list…or in a display. They tend toward the middle items. In my consulting practice, I call this the “Goldilocks” decision making process. Not too hot, not too cold, just right!

Always have a “larger than normal sized” pair of diamond stud earrings (or a diamond solitaire or a diamond anniversary band) in your case.  Trust me, you’ll sell more of the next smaller size, the “middle item.” Make that choice at full-margin and at about a 20% higher price than your average sales ticket from that showcase because you are going to sell more of it. Once in a while, you’ll even sell the “decoy”.

Selling jewellery from a retail shop these days is a difficult business at best. Don’t make it harder than it has to be by ignoring the “human nature of the customer.” Use their tendencies, perceptions and their subconscious decision making processes to help you close the sale of the items you want most to sell. Contact me if you have questions, comments or if I can help you in any way.

Oops, I gotta go. I’m late for a lunch date. I wonder what the special is today?

Little things mean a lot

How often have you heard the phrase…. “Little things mean a lot?”

As a jewellery visual merchandiser, the phrase is one I repeat often because it is certainly true in its application to the retail merchandising of high-ticket items. The details evident in your merchandise, your sales staff, your store display environment, all make a big difference in whether or not you close the sale.

Over the last few months, I have compiled the following list of “little things” I see retailers do that have a big impact on their success or failure. Check out the list and see how many of these your store is doing (or not doing) and consider taking a different direction for a period of 90 days and testing the outcome.

  1. Stop making the merchandise in your showcases hard to see.  Go out to one of your cases and look at the pieces in that case and see if you can see each item “straight-on.” Ring fingers usually show the ring at about a 45 degree angle. If you have those ring fingers in the front 6” of the showcase, you are forcing your customer to bend over at the waist and look through the front of the case to examine your merchandise. No one likes to shop in that position with her backside sticking out into the store aisle. Make every item in your cases visible to the shopper from the top of the case and at an angle that shows the piece front on.
  2. Bring your goods out of the shadows.  Stop loading up the top of the showcases with extraneous items that cast shadows over your merchandise. Easels, signs, counter pads, décor items, top-of-counter displays, all get in the way of your real business of selling the stuff inside the case. Clear all those distractions off and let the light shine in. (Followup in 2 weeks and be sure old habits haven’t allowed these items to move back in!)
  3. Stop using signage that doesn’t motivate a positive action!  A sign in the store saying “We offer in-store financing” is basically worthless. Chain jewellers do as much as 60% of their sales through in-store financing. They reach those levels by telling the customer that this particular diamond ring is only $399/month. Replace your generic signs with a proactive sign that talks to a particular piece and watch things start to happen.
  4. Turn your store TV Monitor into a real sales tool instead of just showing a boring loop of a few images you got from some vendor.  TV monitors in retail environments are everywhere and they influence sales decisions everyday. Put together a slideshow of impactful images and change it often to keep it fresh. Show slides unique to your store and designed to motivate the purchase. If you don’t have time to do all this, contact and let them do a new show each month for you for about $115 per month.
  5. Keep your cases sparkling clean!  Remove all the displays and vacuum out the cases 3 times a year. Clean the glass thoroughly. Clean the smudges off the displays (use Simple Green and a damp cloth but don’t rub the coating off the leatherette.)  When finished and the displays are back in, go around to the front of the case and look at the dispay from the buyers perspective to be sure you got it right.
  6. Avoid lots of different colored displays in your cases unless the colors have significance.   Consumers are used to seeing color as having some significance. When you throw a beige neck form into a white showcase just because it was handy you confuse the customer.  When a showcase has a mix of colors in the displays that result from using a hodgepodge of display, the result is confusing for the customer and your store looks like a flea market.
  7. Don’t have empty slots in your tray.  If you have a 9 ring tray with 3 slots empty (or filled with pennies or “sold” plugs) you are telling the shopper that the 3 best items are already gone. Put those 7 remaining rings in a 7 ring tray and your selection now looks full.
  8. Keep a photo record of how your showcases look on the first of each month.  If you believe, as I do, that how you display your merchandise matters, then having a photo of how your showcases looked during that particular month that sales spiked, or died, is very helpful. Look at the photo of your showcase when you examine your months’ sales and you just might find the visual reason you got the results you did.
  9. Be sure your staff dresses the part.  I was in a store recently where the owner was lamenting his lack of sales of fashion jewellery. We looked at the showcases and made a few changes but then we took a critical look at the sales staff that usually helped those fashion customers. The staff exhibited no sense of fashion style in their own dressing style!  Women shopping for fashion jewellery often want input from the sales staff. (Ever notice how many people ask the waitperson at a restaurant for their recommendation or which item is their personal favorite?) Make your sales team look the part. Get a fashion stylist to come in and give them ideas.  Provide them with a modest clothing allowance if necessary.

We are in the business of selling “little things.” If you pay attention to the details in your store that impact the buying decisions your customers make, you just might see “big” results. Good luck and let me know how things work for you.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”

Thanks, Franklin D. Roosevelt for these words.

Sometimes, my clients are hesitant to make changes in their displays or overall stores due to plain old-fashioned fear. They see the need but are immobilized by the unknown.  Sometimes it can be a fear of the investment required.  Or a question of whether the change will pay dividends. I have even seen a concern about alienating the store’s established customer base…. “We don’t want the store to look too nice and polished or people will think we are too expensive.”

During a consulting visit in the early Fall of last year; I met with a client that had a “perfect storm” of all these concerns. This family-owned store was a small location that was over 100 years old. The store prided itself on being like  “your grandmothers old jewellery box” where clients would rummage through the showcase in search of treasures. The store wasn’t very large. The cases were not 1-level jewellery cases but full view cases that had multiple glass shelves inside. The inventory was packed inside in trays that mostly held 12 rings or 16 pads of earrings.  I saw the most expensive ring in the store (a $54,000 cushion cut diamond fashion ring) buried in a tray with 11 other rings that were less than 1/5th that price. There was virtually no space inside the case left unoccupied. When I first walked into the store, I was overwhelmed with the challenge of making order of this explosion of jewellery.

In the following day, I edited the showcases selection of “no or slow sellers” and duplicates. I prioritized the merchandise putting the higher end pieces (we wanted most to sell) in the dominant places in each case. I highlighted the most important piece in each case with a feature display. I put that cushion cut diamond ring in a special display to be certain anyone examining that case would be sure to discover it. We collected the components of our “Top 10 Gift ideas” collection and put those in the case. I removed extraneous clutter from the sales area and redid the wall cases to feature only large pieces. I suggested we consider expanding the jewellery area of their store selling space into an adjoining room that held giftware but the owners were hesitant (fearful) of loosing the “jewel box” look. The client was happy with the changes we did implement and after a few more adjustments; I left for the airport home.

When my plane landed, I had a voicemail from the client asking me to call immediately. When I called, I learned that the $54,000 cushion cut ring had sold 45 minutes after I left the store. That ring that had been in inventory for 17 months and it had just sold at full price. Over the next few weeks I kept in touch and learned that several of the Top 10 gift items were also selling. Salespeople felt the new case organization made it easier to find special pieces. It was easier for them to sell-up.

It was November when I got a call asking me to come back to the store and talk further about the expansion I had proposed earlier. During that subsequent visit, we brought in a showcase manufacturer and spoke to a lighting supplier. I designed the new space in the center of the old giftware space. The new cases would sell new jewellery and the old previous space would focus on estate merchandise, also in new cases.  A new checkout area would provide a second place to ring up the sales. The wall cases would be removed. The estimate for the entire project was just into six figures. The owners had moved from cautionary fear to a position of taking charge of their future with a calculated investment. We made plans to move out old and excess merchandise to make room and generate cash. Everyone went to work at his or her appointed tasks.

The showcases and new overhead LED’s were installed early the first week of February. We installed the new displays at the end of that week.  Despite the fact that we more than doubled the showcase space in the store, we actually reduced the overall number of pieces offered in total.  Finally, we then trained the staff on how to sell from the new arrangement and reopened the store February 8th.

I got a call from the client exactly seven days later with the happy news. The increase in sales in the first week after the remodel had generated enough profit to completely pay for the entire remodel! That amounts to over $100,000 in Gross Margin in 6 selling days. Sales people were ecstatic and obviously, so were the owners.

In my practice, I find many independent jewelers talk themselves out of store growth by thinking that having the cheapest price and a huge selection presented in long rows are the keys to their future. I can tell you it isn’t.

Presenting your inventory in an attractive way that matches how customers shop. Guiding your customers toward the pieces you want them to buy. Acknowledging the power of effective jewellery display and using it to underscore value, not price. Helping your sales staff be more effective by giving them showcases that amplify rather than hinder their efforts. These are the real keys to store growth.

Put away your fear of the customer’s shopping priorities, motivations and idiosyncrasies’ and take charge of the sale. FDR was right.

If Goldilocks owned a jewellery store……….

Every experienced retailer has an entertaining cache of stories about some “crazy customers” that have acted irrationally in their stores.  The stories are frequently amusing and often prompt a listener to reply “Let me tell you about one I had that was even worse.”

Psychological researchers will tell you that irrational behavior is in fact a very predictable practice. The irony is that irrationality can be predicted. If it can be predicted then wise retailers can anticipate the “irrational “ behavior and anticipate these actions in the way their business is conducted. (FYI- I strongly suggest a book called “Predictably Irrational” by Professor Dan Ariely of Duke University. This is undoubtedly the best book on human behavior I have read and will give you great insight into how to put these human tendencies to work for you.)

Here is a proven specific example you might consider for your store.

Think of Goldilocks’ decision-making process. As you will recall, this young lady avoided extremes in chairs, beds and food..  Remember the bowls of porridge that were too hot or too cold. She proclaimed the middle option was “just right.” When you offer choices of similar but different sized products in your showcases (such as diamond studs, diamond crosses or pearls) always offer one choice that is much higher priced. For example, if your current stud assortment stops at 1.5cttw, add a 2.0cttw. size. The 2 ct. pair now become the “too hot” option making the 1.5 ct. pair “just right.”

Make that middle choice at full-margin and at about a 20% higher price than your average sales ticket from that category because you are going to sell more of it. (Avoid promoting items in your cases that bring down your average ticket for that case. The easiest way to grow your sales by 20% is to raise the average ticket for each case in the store by 20%. Make the middle choice at a price that elevates your average ticket  by 20% and you’ll raise your entire stores sales.)

Recently, I consulted with a store in Chicago that proved this strategy very well. The store had 3 platforms in one of their cases each with “Your Choice” selections. The price points on the platforms were $1999, $2999 and $4999 respectively. The owner told me his sales of the two lower prices were strong but he, obviously, wished he would sell more $4999 items. I suggested we add a fourth platform featuring “Your choice $6999.” We added the higher priced selection and 90 days later his sales of $4999 items were up by 35%, plus he had sold several pieces from the highest priced platform. He had made the $4999 platform his “just right” selection.

One last example of this strategy at work

Ever look at a wine list in a fine restaurant and wonder about the $500 bottle of wine on the wine list? Who pays those kinds of prices? Answer: Hardly anyone, but the high-ticket item (called a “decoy” in the food trade) does prompt people to open their pocketbook more generously and order a $75 instead of a $40 bottle. People do not like buying the cheapest or the most expensive item on a list…or in a display.

Your specific action step: Look at each of your showcases and find areas where you are offering “middle priced options” that are not as high priced as you think the market should bear. Experiment with a few similar pieces of merchandise at 20% higher prices to make your previous highest priced pieces the new middle choice. Make the new middle pieces at full margin because you are going to sell more of them. Now place the higher price pointed items in the rear of the showcase (closest to the salesperson) so it can be easily reached. Place the least expensive goods near the customer’s side of the showcase and mid-priced merchandise between the two. Now when a client is moving up or down in price, your salesperson simply moves back to front in the case without having to move all over the store. This arrangement makes selling up much easier as the salesperson just moves back a few inches in the case.

Test your new selection offering for 60 days and track your results. Be sure your sales team offers the high priced option to every prospect. That will “anchor” the higher price in your customers mind and make the lower price point seem more appealing. At the end of the test period, evaluate the sales results and expand or rethink the strategy as the results show. If the idea does not work for you, evaluate the “perceived value” of the merchandise involved and be sure you have good choices.

Good luck with implementing this strategy in your own store and let us know how it works for you.  If you have questions, contact me. I am always happy to help.

Larry Johnson is the author of “The complete guide to effective jewelry display.” He is CEO of Larry Johnson Consulting based in Colleyville, Texas.  He works with independent jewellery retailers around the world to increase their profits through better display techniques. In addition, his firm offers a complete on-line display training course for retailers. He can be reached at or 817-980-2135.

I got a bad case of ………

The task of improving the display presentation in a retail jewellery store is actually a multifaceted effort that changes as you walk around the store. There is a different solution for every category of merchandise you offer. What works in your Bridal case will not work in Colored stones and vice versa.

Follow this hopefully logical thought progression for a moment:

  1. Displays are there to make the merchandise appear more appealing to the potential buyer.
  2. A piece of jewellery appeals to a buyer when it matches their personal buying motivations.
  3. Personal buying motivations differ for different categories of the merchandise in a store.

Successful jewellery display strategies are created one showcase at a time so let’s go through a few of the major merchandise categories and provide some ideas you might consider.

The Bridal Case-

Buying motivation: A once in a lifetime (hopefully) experience filled with romance, anticipation and hope for the future.  A buying experience which pits the realities of a practical budget against the wishes for a grand symbol of love.

Display Strategy: Make it easy to get from the entire selection of your Bridal case to a tray of less than 5 choices. Start by organizing your inventory by style.  Put all the halos together, all the Sols together, etc. Ignore the manufacturer of the ring unless that manufacturer’s name has gravitas with your customer. Only use manufacturers displays if their name is well known. Once all the Halos are in one area, break them down into good, better, best or least expensive, middle priced, highest priced if you prefer. Put the best pieces (20% of the total) on individual elements and place them at the back of the showcase in the center. These are the pieces you want most to sell. Place the mid-priced goods  (next 40%)in trays of 3-5 and put them in the middle of the case (front to back). Now put the least expensive (bottom 40%) in trays of 5-12 and put them in the front of the case nearest the customer.

Train your sales team to start a sale by asking if the client has a style in mind. Once the preferred style is determined, go to that area of the showcase for the next step. They then move into the case and begin by showing the best merchandise on individual elements and move deeper into the case if price resistance is met. Once rings are chosen for further consideration, they are placed in a counter pad that unfolds to visually obscure much of the merchandise below it inside the case.  This keeps the focus on the semifinalists. Offer a monthly payment of a rather specific amount to the client to make the higher priced merchandise more attainable. The goal of moving the customer from the overwhelming vision of your entire selection to a tray of 3-5 choices has been made successfully and your sales associate just needs to help the customer pull the trigger by removing any barriers to purchase that exist.

Colored Stone Jewellery-

Buying Motivation: The desire for a fashion piece of fine jewellery in a particular shade of a color to add to their wardrobe. It is often, as well, a color determined by the tradition of “ My Months Birthstones.”

Display Strategy: This decision is all about color, so divide up your inventory by color shade. Put all the blue choices in close proximity to each other. With sapphires, tanzanites, spinels, zircons, aquamarines and blue tourmalines all together, your client will see the broad selection you offer to the “Blue” portion of their wardrobe. The reasoning for this arrangement will allow a client that came in looking for a sapphire to walk out with a tanzanite. Don’t differentiate between the limiting artificial terms of “precious” and “semiprecious” stones. They are all precious and worthy of consideration. In addition, this arrangement will make it easier for your sales team to upsell and move that spinel client up to a sapphire. Organize each color section by the same “Good-Better-Best” approach we used in Bridal to make selling seamless.

We will continue our review of merchandise strategies next month with a few more categories for your consideration. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to give me a call or send me your ideas for discussion.

If you will apply the strategies we are proposing, you might find that your cases will silently begin to work harder. In my considerable display experience I have found these ideas increase your sales and in doing so, create happier customers, more successful salespeople and much more satisfied store-owners. Good luck.

I got another bad case of ………

In last month’s issue, I began this study of the differences in display strategies that the successful jeweller should consider when outfitting a retail store. If you missed last month’s column, the following is a quick overview to get you up to speed.  If you saw my last column, please indulge a quick recap.

I addressed Bridal and Colored Stones last month, so this month we’ll address Diamond Fashion.


The task of improving the display presentation in a retail jewellery store is actually a multifaceted effort that changes as you walk around the store. There is a different solution for every category of merchandise you offer. What works in your Bridal case will not work in Colored stones and vice versa.

Follow this hopefully logical thought progression for a moment:

  1. Displays are there to make the merchandise appear more appealing to the potential buyer.
  2. A piece of jewellery appeals to a buyer when it matches their personal buying motivations.
  3. Personal buying motivations differ for different categories of the merchandise in a store.

Successful jewellery display strategies are created one showcase at a time so let’s go through another major merchandise category and provide some ideas you might consider.

The Diamond Fashion Case-

Buying motivation:  Obviously diamonds continue to have a timeless appeal and women still desire diamond fashion rings, stud earrings, bracelets and pendants. Once she has a wedding ring, diamond fashion is a logical choice for buyers seeking an anniversary or birthday gift. For the self-purchaser, diamonds are an obvious choice to complete a jewellery wardrobe.

Display Strategy: Place your diamond fashion in cases near your Bridal area to capture some of that mystique. Organize your inventory by the way your clients shop. Try not to fall into the trap of always thinking like a merchant! Think like your customer instead. You may find that your shoppers come in looking for diamond earrings but ultimately buy a pendant or bracelet. If that is so, then mix these different types of goods together in your cases to make that transition easier… and make multiple purchases easier.

Once you have the goods arranged in the case, use my “good-better-best” display strategy. (Put the best pieces (20% of the total) on individual elements and place them at the back of the showcase in the center. These are the pieces you want most to sell. Place the mid-priced goods  (next 40%)in trays of 3-5 and put them in the middle of the case (front to back). Now put the least expensive (bottom 40%) in trays of 5-12 and put them in the front of the case nearest the customer.)

Train your sales team to start a sale by asking if the client has a item or style in mind. Once the preferred direction is determined, go to that area of the showcase for the next step. They then move into the case and begin by showing the best merchandise on individual elements and move deeper into the case if price resistance is met.

For items like Diamond stud earrings and Diamond solitaire pendants, use the program trays that show a selection in different sizes, qualities and prices. I don’t agree that you need to have 10 sizes of studs under 1ct. The customer does not need that many choices and the odds of you having empty slots goes way up. It is wiser to invest those funds into a larger pair that elevates the average purchase.

Let’s say your average sale of studs is 1Cttw. You would like to move that average sale up to 1.5 Cttw. The best way to do that is to proudly show 2.0Cttw. merchandise near the 1 ct pair in your case. The average customer does not come in and buy the biggest pair you have, they tend to buy the size just below the largest. (Medium drinks outsell Large drinks at fast-food restaurants, most people prefer their steak medium as opposed to well-done. Restaurants offer $200 bottles of wine to make the $125 bottles appear less extravagant. Trust me on this!)

When using the multi-pair display trays, always put the larger sizes at the top and step down in size as you go down the ramp.

If this works in your store, do the same thing with diamond pendants. (A side note: Always track what works in your display techniques and what doesn’t. Do more of what works and change techniques that don’t into something else.)

One last point for those self-purchasers of Diamond Fashion……..Offer a monthly payment of a rather specific amount to the client to make the higher priced merchandise more attainable. The self-purchaser will be much more motivated to buy up if you offer those bigger studs for only $35/month more.

We will continue our review of merchandise strategies next month with a few more categories for your consideration. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to give me a call or send me your ideas for discussion.

If you will apply the strategies we are proposing, you might find that your cases will silently begin to work harder. In my considerable display experience I have found these ideas increase your sales and in doing so, create happier customers, more successful salespeople and much more satisfied store-owners. Good luck.

Get ready, get set….to Go!

As the Holiday sales season approaches, it is the perfect time for the retail jeweller to take a few moments to be certain the showcase display presentations in the store are ready. Making the effort to get everything ready for the rush of customers pays off in higher sales, typically at better margins.

Here are a few quick easy suggestions to making your cases present your merchandise at its best.

  1. Replace any old, ragged display elements. It is hard for you to convincingly tell your customer about the “high quality” of a piece of your jewellery when the neckform you took it from looks like a refugee from a garage sale.
  2. Take a few minutes each day over the next few weeks and clean off all that accumulated sweat, dirt, makeup, dust, grime, jewelers rouge and whatever else has found its way into your cases. Use a diluted solution of “Simple Green” cleaner on your leatherettes but be careful NOT to scrub off the varnish coating. Let the cleaner do the work. Suedes can be cleaned with suede cleaner. Call your display supplier for suggestions.
  3. Tired looking showcases and a tight budget? Change out the floorboard fabric to a different color. For about $40 per showcase you can give your cases a new look even with your display trays from 1985. Use professional grade fabrics from your display provider to be sure the new fabric does not fade or emit sulphur dioxide fumes that will tarnish your jewellery and turn the goods black. Fabric from the shop down the street is not made for the heavy duty conditions inside your case.
  4. Replace any burned out light bulbs in or above the showcases. Customers won’t buy what they can’t see.
  5. Pick out the 4-6 items in each showcase you want most to sell this year and display them differently from everything else in the case. Example: Put a ring on a finger with a business card under it and the words “My personal favorite.” Get “key item” displays from your display vendor. Do something to attract extra attention to those few items. The more people that see them, the better the odds are they will have new homes by New Year’s Day.
  6. Put price tags on a few items in each case that look like “really great deals.” If your customer sees a piece of jewellery in the case that looks like it should sell for about $1000 and you have it for $699, they perceive your store as having “good values.” On everything. Remember, everyone that comes into your store is an amateur appraiser. Show them a few good values and their impression will be the entire store is full of bargains.
  7. Take photos of each showcase and its contents on November 1 and December 1. In January, when you look back on your Holiday results, it will help you to be able to look back at how your merchandise was presented. If a particular layout resulted in sales that were great, do more. If sales were soft, try something different. Without a photo record, you might make the same display mistakes repeatedly or miss chances to improve.
  8. When it comes to Holiday décor, consider decorating the store interior and NOT the inside of the showcases. I see many retailers filling their cases with Holiday glitter that outshines the merchandise. Never put anything shiny in the showcase that isn’t for sale.
  9. On December 15, go into full court press. Add signs directing your customer to a predetermined selection of last minute gift ideas. You client has no time to waste, so do the thinking for them. Make it easy for them to find the right item, quickly and without hassle. They will remember you had the answer next year when they are late again.

Implementing these easy checkpoints has the potential to help you positively impact your sales in this upcoming Holiday season. Try them and see if they provide you with your own personal version of “Holiday cheer.”  Good luck!

Your showcase is your “bench”

I frequently advise my consulting clients to think of their display showcases as the “desks” or “workbenches” of their sales team. Just as the jeweler in their stores shop (hopefully) has everything he needs to do his job (i.e  tools, supplies, etc.)  close at hand, the effective showcase should be arranged to provide everything the sales person needs at hand.  Imagine, obviously, if the bench jeweller is constantly having to move all around the shop to find the items he needs, his productivity will suffer. Your sales team should remember that excessive moving around when making a sale will reduce your chances of a successful close.

Each showcase should contain the following items stored in a convenient space less than 2 steps away:

Counter pad- Always use a counterpad when you remove a piece from the case. The pads provide an opaque background for the piece and direct the customers attention directly on that piece.

Polishing cloth- You always polish the piece for about 10 seconds before you hand it to the customer. This allows your salesperson time to detail the story behind the piece and it builds anticipation.

 Financing payment schedule- You want to be able to give the customer a close estimate of the monthly payments for the piece without having to go in the back of the store to retrieve the financing sheet. (Contact me if you’d like to see the signage we typically use for the in case payment info)

Kleenex pack- Very handy in dozens of events such as when the customer sneezes on the top of your showcase or puts her finger in her mouth to help her remove a ring.

 Business cards, pen, scratch pad. – Pretty self explanatory.

Depending on the type of merchandise in the individual case, you’ll likely also need:

 Loupe, ring sizer and hand magnifying glass (to show details of the quality of the workmanship of your pieces..

The actual final list of items you’ll actually need in your store depends on the content and strategy of the sales presentations your staff makes at each case.

If your team focuses on quality, then show the customer examples of the quality of a piece with a magnifying glass or your loupe. Maybe you should have a “poor quality” piece to show an example of the difference. Remember when you were in elementary school? Those times on Monday morning were called “Show and Tell” for a reason. (Remember, they were not just called “Tell.”) The more of the customers senses you involve in the sales presentation, the better your chances of success.

If your team focuses on affordability, offering “18 month free financing with a low monthly payment of only $x” gives the customer a specific example to chew on.

In the last few years, many independent retailers have seen distinct growth in public interest in “Custom design” jewellery. I have been involved in quite a few stores that are looking for a way to integrate an area in their store for sales of “Custom pieces.”  I feel the practice of selling custom jobs when standing over a showcase full of pieces to be limiting. First of all, doing so is certainly not an “experience.” It is not comfortable just standing there and if you have a more comfortable discussion over your sit-down Bridal case, you run the risk of blocking that area on a busy Saturday morning when another couple might want to look in that case. In each store we have done, we have taken the strategy of “Show AND tell” to heart by moving the discussion to a specific area of the store for this purpose and including items in that area that support the custom jewellery sales presentation. We design the selling space to include the tablet, reference books, sketchpad or monitor where the design will be created to be inviting and easy for your staff to use. We often include props such as waxes, loose stones, antique jewellry making tools and images of finished jewellry pieces and they drawings that prompted them.  Again, you are selling an experience. Treat it that way.

Running a retail jewellery store is a difficult job. There are hundreds of things to remember and consider. If you take a few minutes of your time and ask your sales team to help assemble all of the tools you need in the different areas of your store  to make their job more effective, you might find along with increased sales, your workload might get a little easier.

Let me know if I can help.

Is your store an easy place to shop?

Ever visit a website in search of a solution or to make a purchase and after a few minutes of difficulty, finally “just give up” because the site is so confusing, cluttered or just poorly designed that it just isn’t worth the trouble?  Why does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t I just find ….?

Is there a chance that customers entering your store have the same confusing experience? Do any of them just leave without making a purchase because they are flustered by their “shopping experience?”

A recurring trait I see as I visit stores in my consulting practice is a lack of appreciation for the thought processes of the customer base.  Researchers tell us that people make decisions in a very linear way. They get to a decision through a progression of predictable steps. (Dan Areily’s book “Predictably Irrational” and “The upside of Irrationality” are the best references I’ve read on this topic.)

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your staff to determine what improvements can be made to help nurture your customer through their shopping experience.

  1. Think like your customer, not like a shopkeeper. Make your guide questions like “How does our customer shop for this category of merchandise?” Example: Many people shop for colored stone jewelry by color more than exact stone type. They may say sapphire but what they often want is blue. Put all your blue palette merchandise together in a single area. You’ll find customers opting for a Tanzanite when they came in looking for Sapphire.
  2. Organize your Bridal merchandise by style of ring, not by vendor.  Except for a few brands of highly promoted Bridal merchandise, most brands mean nothing to your customer. (You don’t organize your clothes closet at home by the store from which you got the item, you likely have the closet arranged by the sequence in which you dress each day) Organize your Bridal merchandise by style of ring regardless of where you got the individual ring.
  3. Get rid of all the distractions and clutter in the store and in the showcases-  You know the stuff. The plaque you got in 1998 from the Chamber of Commerce, the rack with free handouts from the local high school on the top of the counter, the acrylic top of counter unit (with the earrings that don’t sell) that blocks the light in the case below it.  Take the cluttering trim out of the showcases. Less is much more. The jewelry is the star of the case. Don’t hide it with plastic flowers or ceramic angels. Think clear, uncluttered, open, inviting and organized.
  4. Organize each showcase in the store to match how your staff sells… after you have coordinated your sales teams approach.  Your showcases are a “workbench” for the sales team. They need to be organized to match the teams sales procedure. Since the case can only be organized in a single way, your sales team needs to follow a “generally similar” approach in their sales presentation.  Example: If one of your Bridal sales team starts each of their sales presentations with the diamond, while another talks price or date the ring is needed, your showcase will never work right. Get your team on the same sequence of sales and then organize your case layout to support that presentation
  5. Get rid of signs in both the store and cases that do not say anything useful.  My favorite is “We offer financing from XYZ Financing Company”, who doesn’t?  Replace it with a sign that tells your customer what they really want to know, “If I buy this ring for $7000, what will my monthly payments be?” Make the sign match the price points in the showcase. Pick a term timeframe like 18 months and leave off the pennies. Put a sign in each showcase to answer this often unasked question.

Making a customer-centric store begins with an analytic review of the questions and comments you hear from your clients. Anytime you hear a customer ask “where, how, why or do you….” it should prompt you to modify your store’s presentation to answer such questions without being asked. Your customer will feel more comfortable, informed and vested in the decisions they make in your store. They will reward you for your efforts to make the store a great place to shop with their repeated purchases. I have seen it happen in countless of my clients stores.

If you’d like help achieving these changes, send me  a few images of your showcases and store interior for a free critique. No obligation or cost. You might just be pleasantly surprised with the result. I’m sure your customers will notice.

The most common mistakes jewelers make

Travelling around the country working with independent jewelers is not only a very rewarding experience, but it is a great way to see the diversity ideas, efforts and misconceptions that owners have. Walking into a new client’s store for the first time, I frequently am reminded of the words of Forrest Gump, “You never know what you are going to get.”

Although the precise conditions differ in every store, many circumstances are predictably similar.  A brief review of some of the most blatant or impactful judgment errors might be helpful in reducing the mistakes that inhibit the growth of independent retail jewellery stores. Maybe you’ll see one or more that is affecting your own store.

One common misconception that jewellers have is a lack of understanding of the power of effective visual merchandising. Like any talent, people that do not understand the intricacies cannot develop an appreciation for the end result. Storeowners that would never hire a bench jeweller that lacked ample training will allow “Betty Lou” to arrange the store displays when she has no training in the subject. If that bench jeweller sets a diamond incorrectly, at some point, the stone may fall out, and the customer will return to the store looking for restitution. If “Betty Lou” creates a case that is confusing or difficult for the customer to shop, the sale is simply lost. Her mistake is silent but far more damaging long term because where the lost diamond is a single event, lousy displays affect store sales every hour and every day the store is open. Good display people are not inherently born with that ability, they are trained. Being able to make a case look “pretty” is not the same as making the case sell more jewellery.

Some years back, I wrote a book entitled “The Complete Guide to Effective Jewellery Display.” Once it went on sale, I was surprised to see the number of copies that were ordered from foreign countries. A disproportionate number of the copies were sent to readers in India, South Africa, Europe and Asia. I found myself wondering if perhaps those retailers saw their own lack of understanding of effective display techniques and valued additional education on the subject.

Storeowners that invest in simple training for their visual merchandising people will convert more lookers into buyers.

Another common misconception I see at stores stems from a lack of respect for their display elements. The owner will change his shirt if he spills a bit of coffee on the front, but he will leave a platform in his Bridal case that has stains on it for years. He’ll think nothing of using display elements of several different colors in a case because he doesn’t think it matters. Give him a free shirt (in a strange color, with a big logo on the front, and that might not fit well) and he might or might not wear it. Give him a free display with the same attributes and they will more than likely end up in the case. I had an attendee at one of my seminars once tell me that she had used the very same velvet neck forms for 15 years. She explained that every year or so when they got soiled, she simply bought a can of spray paint and gave the display a fresh coat of paint! Imagine the crusty 10-layer surface of that display and the sensory disconnect between the “fine” jewellery piece and the recycled Krylon display on which it was placed.

Your displays say a lot to your customers about you and your store. It is up to the storeowner whether it is good or bad.

In this information age where a Fitbit can give ongoing instantaneous readings of your heartbeat you might think that people would pay greater attention to numeric analysis in the business part of their lives. The introduction of store inventory management systems (such as The Edge and Focus) allows retailers to track their stores progress in a real-time manner.  Smart jewellers read these reports to see how inventory is being managed but why is it then, no records are kept as to the success of their visual merchandising ideas?  With these systems, you can quickly find out how last month’s sales results from your Pearl or Fashion Diamond case, but do you have a photo on file of how your case looked last month? Keeping a visual record of how your windows looked, or how a case was arranged gives the store owner a record of what visual strategies worked and what didn’t. Assign someone the task of taking photos (low res with their phone is fine) of every showcase and window on or about the first of each month. Keep these in a file and when you look at your sales of colored goods last month, take a look at the corresponding placement of the merchandise. You’ll see patterns of how your customers shop.

You’ll soon see which type of window displays generated the best results.

I consulted on a store recently in which the owner had allocated 40% of the available showcase space to watches. He sold these at deep discounts so each case had signs announcing 40-50% off or more.  The watches were not really building traffic for the fine jewellery portion of the store. In fact, his discounted strategy was hurting his store profitability because his customers were being conditioned to see discounts as the norm. People shopping in his diamonds or other non-watch categories, (where full sticker price was his sales plan) were asking for 40% off his price tags.  He and his staff had the problem of constantly repeating “No, this item is available at the price shown even though those items over there are discounted.” The resulting conversation was often difficult and prompted the customer to feel frustrated. He was creating an expectation with his signage that was contrary to his best interests.

Successful retailing is surely a very difficult process. It requires the constant attention and care not unlike that of a newborn baby that never gets older. Each morning poses new challenges in personnel, competition, merchandise, regulation, cash flow or something else.

Wise parents, a talented pediatrician, helpful books or experienced friends can help you with ideas and suggestions as to raising your newborn. Finding similar reference sources or experienced advisers for your business, attending seminars, taking classes and talking to other jewellers all can help you avoid some of the mistakes that inhibit the growth of your store. Good luck as you go about finding the best “formula” for your retail “baby.”


1.)Treat visual merchandising with respect befitting its impact in your store. Provide training to your staff in its effective use. Do not confuse “pretty” cases with cases that sell.

2.) Open your eyes and really “look” at your displays and your presentation with fresh eyes. Determine if your displays do justice to your merchandise. If you are in need of new element, start the process.

3.) Use the reports you get from your store’s operating system to drive how you allocate space in your store. Use it to find gaps in your merchandise selection that are costing you sales. Use it to identify old inventory that is cluttering up your showcases. If you can’t read these indicators from your reports, get help.

4.) Look at messages in the store that are interfering with the smooth flow of your sales process. Remove anything in the store that doesn’t help you sell. Think like a customer and not like a retailer. Build perceived value into your presentation to avoid lost sales due to price.

Don’t display in your case what you shouldn’t be showing in the first place!

At the recent Canadian Jewellers show in Edmonton, I had a nice talk with a young, Canadian jewellery store owner. I had given a seminar on the “Top 10 list of mistakes jewelers make in the display of jewellery” and at the end of my remarks, offered a free 30 minute consultation to any attendee wanting to discuss their displays.

She arrived with photos of her store in hand and asked my opinion. The first few images depicted a store that looked clean and orderly. Each case held a different vendor-provided display full of neatly arranged items. Then I saw cases full of his “Store brand” merchandise  all crammed onto white leatherette displays arranged haphazardly in the case. He had way too much merchandise and the visual comparison between the previous cases and these was dramatic. 

The look of these later, cluttered cases was terrible and gave the impression that her merchandise quality was inferior and overpriced whatever the price. I asked about the amount of merchandise that was over 18 mos old and her answer was approaching 40%.  I commented that if we removed 40% of the merchandise in each case, we’d be closer to the amount the case could attractively hold. We would sell more because the merchandise would look better and the perceived value would rise making her affordable prices look like bargains.

She was having trouble with the concept of taking some merchandise out of the case in order to sell more. “How can I sell it if it is not in the case?” she asked. I replied, “you won’t, just like the hard fact that you haven’t sold it by it being IN the case for the last 18 months!”

Think of that old movie scenario in which the cruise ship sinks and the overcrowded lifeboat is slowly going under as well. The leaders decide that a few people have to go overboard to save the rest. It is always the older passengers that are the volunteers and go. Women and children are the hope of the future and therefore are to be to be saved.

A showcase drowning in excess merchandise will doom the store. It must be removed from the scene in order to allow the items that embody the store’s future to have a chance.

Then the young storeowner told me she was planning to buy more merchandise there at the show. I asked where she intended to display the new goods as she had no available space. She just shook her head like I had burst her shopping balloon.

We agreed to take the following steps to get her cases in shape. See how many might help you as well.

  1. Put in place a good inventory management reporting system to get good data about our stores condition. (My favorite is EDGE.)
  2. Remove all merchandise that has been in the case for over 18 months and put it in the vault. Then, melt the hopeless pieces, place some “possibles” in a clearance case with cash incentives to the sales team member that sells it. Put some of the better pieces on your female sales associates to wear, show and sell. (Yes, it really does work!)
  3. Redisplay the remaining inventory in a logical manner that matches how our customer shops. Use a good-better-best approach.
  4. Track the sales results of any display changes to KNOW what delivers results and do more of that. Change what does not deliver sales numbers.
  5. Set up planned guidelines as to the number of SKU’s you will display in each case to keep the cases looking full (but not crowded) of the right saleable selection. Do not overfill the case. If you buy new items and are over your targeted capacity limit, take something out.
  6. Monitor your inventory each month and take the dead items out of the case. Replace them with items you know from your reports will sell.

She left our discussion with her head full of ideas, much work to do and some hard decisions to make. The difference however between store owners that prosper and those that fail are how those issues are addressed. Nobody ever said being the Captain of the ship was easy.

P.S. If you’d like a free copy of the handout from my “Top 10 list of mistakes jewelers make in the display of Jewellery” seminar, send me an email at

The most important question you ask can sometimes be “Why?”

Anyone that spends much time around young toddlers has likely experienced that beautiful age in which the child constantly asks “Why?”  when responding to any instruction.  The redundancy in which the question is asked can drive a parent to resort to that catchall answer “Because I said so!”

My suggestion for you in this column is to attempt to momentarily connect with your own inner child and explore the question of “Why” in your own stores operation by asking:

“Why do we do it this way?”

 “Why do we put this merchandise in this case as opposed to over there?”

“Why are those rings displayed together?”

“Why are those rings priced at that higher price?”

“Why is this ad for next week’s downtown jazz festival on top of this showcase where it is blocking the light?”

“Why do you start your Bridal sales presentation with those words instead asking _______?”

As a person interested in improving the performance of your store, you might take a critical look at your location and ask your colleagues ”Why?”  In the times I have asked this question in a client’s store, I have heard the following answers:

“I don’t know.”

“It has always been that way.”

“Because, somebody said to do this like this.”

“Oh, I hadn’t noticed it was like that.”

“It is the only way all I can get all this into the case.”

“Because I thought it looked ‘nice’ that way.”

or, that standby answer…….“Because I said so.”

All of these answers leave much to be desired, both in creativity and in impact on the stores P&L.

Here are a few acceptable answers.

“Because it is easier for me to sell up when the items are displayed this way.”

“Because the perceived value of the items is greater on those type of displays.”

“Because the goods organized this way match how the customer shops for these items.”

“Because setting up the cases like this matches the steps I go through when making a presentation on this category thereby making my sales presentation smoother and more successful.”

“Because we tested this showcase layout over the last few months and we sold 23% more.”

Obviously, the difference in answers can be summarized by the terms “customer centric.” The right answers are based in the intention to increase sales by making everything in the stores shopping experience based on increasing sales. Make everything in the store focused on that goal. I prefer a showcase that is not so “pretty” but sells $50,000 a year to another beautiful case nearby doing $25,000. Arrange each case to be totally about making the merchandise look good, look worth the price, be easy to shop and match how sequence of selling points/benefits the salesperson will follow in the presentation. Test different ideas in your cases and keep track of what works and what doesn’t. (Hint: Do more of the things that work and change the losers to something else!)

This applies to your sales presentations as well. In August of this year, my wife and I visited an art gallery in Banff as part of a shopping day while on vacation. I was particularly enamored with a beautiful bronze statue the shop offered and while I was waiting for the shop owner, I overheard his sales presentation to another shopper looking at a different bronze. “Can you believe it? This magnificent piece started as a lifeless mound of clay. It was then shaped by her talented hands (over hours of work in her studio) into the creation she had mentally envisioned before she had even started with the clay. Finally she took the clay and through multiple steps cast this permanent piece for us? The result of all this work is this beautiful sculpture and it’s is only $XXXX. Can you believe it?”  Yes, the sale was made.

Sales presentations are about answering the “Why?” question when it isn’t even actually asked. Substitute “wax” for “clay”, add a few words about the romance of the stones in the piece and try a similar approach in your sales presentation. It is the best way to answer the question of WHY the price of this piece is as it is.

Time to try something new! Your showcases arrangements are likely not nailed down. It is a good time of year to try a few new ideas before the Holiday season really hits.  Try some new showcase display arrangement. Try a different sales presentation. Try anything new that proves to work better that what you did before.

Break out of your comfort zone and try something new if for no other reason that “I said so.” Good luck and let me know if I can help.

Thoughts on creating your website

Recreating the great in-case presentation you built inside a 2 meter wide showcase to the 5cm screen on a cellphone requires a very special talent. The display principles are essentially the same but the small screen requires a slightly different focus.

When planning (or updating) your site, place yourself in the mind of your targeted reader. A well conceived and executed website will build a relationship with your customer not unlike that you have in person in your store.  Trends indicate that on-line retailing will be the norm of the future so implementing sound visual merchandising practices will be even more critical.

If you currently have a site, it maybe time to consider updating by adding video and audio features. (Note: If you haven’t updated your website in a year or more, it is likely time. If your e-commerce site has seen recent downturns in sales, it may be time as well)Check out some of the other sites your customers visit and note their features. By integrating more current technology into your site, you’ll set yourself apart.

The cost of such changes naturally varies with the degree of changes, but getting several quotes will give you a fair price. If your strategy is to significantly grow your on-line business, compare the costs of an up to date site to the creation of a bricks and mortar site. Shiny, modern showcases and displays often cost tens of thousands of dollars so expect your new shiny site to cost almost as much.

Here are some fundamentals that your web designer should consider and common mistakes to avoid.

  • Think of your web presentation as a private conversation between your best salesperson and the customer. Think personal, think specific and apply the same steps of the sale.
  • Plan your site much the same way you’d plan your actual store. Use the same steps in your logic, just apply them to your on-line business. The visual merchandising ideas you’d use in your live store apply here as well.
  • Your website images are your “on-line displays.” Make them hi-res, spectacularly photographed, well-lit and full of appropriate models to create the most impactful look.
  •  Use the text on your site to communicate what you’d say to the customer if she were actually standing in front of you. Just like the signage in your case, be short and use emotional words. Everyone else says “beautiful” or “pretty.” You should use terms like “Spectacular, Stunning” and “Radiant.”
  • Using background colors online that emphasize the merchandise. Just because you can make the site lipstick red does not make it a good idea.
  • Incorporate images, video with accompanying audio wherever possible to add a “show and tell” attribute to your site. Just like in your store, allow your customer to use as many of their senses as possible to fall in love with the piece.
  • Don’t hide the price and payment terms of your merchandise. Adopt an attitude that this piece of jewellery is a great deal at this low price. Show that you own the price and they will want to own the piece.

My Store Monitor is a great idea for jewelers

Now that technology has worked it’s way into seemingly every aspect of our lives, it follows that the digital age is affecting the buying process inside your store as well. Using electronics to add value, to answer questions, to clarify selling benefits, to reaffirm the buying decision and to actually close the sale is an integral part of today’s commerce.  Electronics filling these roles are not part of the future, they have already arrived.

Put a screen on the street outside- Electronic billboards with ever-changing messages have created a new way to communicate with passers-by outside your store. Although they are an expensive investment (often $25,000-$50,000 depending on size) they give the merchant a chance to increase traffic and sales. Keep your message short. Keep your goal firmly in mind. Avoid generalities in your message. Promote a piece of merchandise at a great price point. Promote payments per month on 1cttw. diamond studs. Change your message each Monday.

Put a screen on the wall inside- Once a customer has just told you that they are just looking, an effective store monitor slideshow still speaks loudly to your shoppers. With large screen TV’s at rock bottom prices, put them in your store in lieu of static posters or duratrans.  Run an interesting show emphasizing your stores services and merchandise. Change it monthly. Consider a service like They will send you a new personalized to your store slide show with 75 slides each month for $139/mo.

Put a screen on your showcases- Now that I-pads and their like have become ubiquitous, why not use them as a selling tool in your store. Why not record a 3-minute video (free) about the merchandise in a particular showcase and upload it to You-Tube?  Make the video load upon the tablet being opened. Let that video be as specific or general as you want to create interest in the showcase. It can be the message you’d share with your customer if you were face to face. Communications such as this are appealing to younger customers who do not want to feel like they are being “sold” by a real person. Be sure to add a link to your store website on the tablets as well.

Put a screen in the hands of your sales team- Put all the aforementioned case video links on each persons tablet so your team can use them in their sales presentations. Include links to the homepages of the designers whose merchandise you offer. Images will sell better than your words when it comes to explaining a designer’s inspiration to your customer.  Add a cube card processor to allow checkout from anywhere in the store. Move your sales team from paper to this paperless system. By doing so you have greater control over the sales presentation since you will approve the message. Enlist the assistance of a tech savvy individual to make your message compliment the look and feel of your store and your merchandise. If your electronics are cool, your store is too.

The age of static billboards, painted signage, lined notepads and carbon copy sales tickets is long over. Today’s customer wants more in their shopping experience. To compete with the on-line merchant you must offer a suitable alternative purchasing process. It can be a daunting task to those merchants that did not grow up with this technology, but it is important to recognize its worth and start somewhere, somehow to put it to work for you.

How to make your Bridal displays more effective

It’s a busy Saturday afternoon in the store when in walks this young couple, hand-in-hand, and make their way back to the Bridal area. As they begin to examine the merchandise there, the salesperson approaches and asks the first of what will be a series of questions hopefully leading ultimately toward another Bridal sale. The chances of successfully closing a sale in this situation are greatly improved if the entire process can be made easier, smoother and made to flow more seamlessly. The unfortunate truth is, often times, the arrangement of the displays and merchandise in the Bridal department of many retail jewellery locations are not helpful to this success, and in fact, it impedes the flow. The reason in many instances is because the retailer tends to organize his showcases by his own mindset instead of his customers. “These rings are all from manufacturer X so they all go together here and those are from Y so they go there.” Arranging the merchandise in a manner to follow the decision making process of the client (instead of the shop owner!) has proven to generate a smoother selling process and therefore more and larger sales.

We should keep in mind that the role of the salesperson, (and the store displays) is to help the client move through the process of choosing their item for purchase. The client starts with a store full of merchandise and they must move from a store full to a specific showcase, then to an area of that case, then to a tray of possibles and finally to the one they choose to buy. The process is one of elimination because the client must eliminate all but one in order to buy. Clients buy nothing when they cannot decide on one. The salesperson and the display are there to get the decision down to “the one.”

It might serve the jeweller well to think of the displays in the Bridal department of their store in much the same way as they see the workbench used by one of the jewellers in the back shop. At the bench, all the most commonly used tools are arranged in easy reach, organized and ready. The area is designed for efficiency and easy flow in order to save time and improve workflow. The Bridal showcases are the “workbench” of your sales team. It is undoubtedly inefficient (and certainly confusing) to have a salesperson and a client be forced to move all around the store as the discussion evolves looking for “the one.”

In order to reduce this “sales workbench” confusion, begin by analyzing your sales teams “most typical” diamond sales presentations. You will likely find that the discussions often follow a common path. What questions do you ask of a new client?  What questions does the client ask? How often do clients enter your store asking for a specific name brand? How often do they know exactly what they want as a result of previous homework done on-line or outside your store? How often are they ”just starting to look? ” Take all the answers to these questions and ask yourself how the department might be physically better organized to make the process flow more smoothly. Do not focus on who made what in your cases; look at the cases through the customer’s eyes.

How would this approach look in the store?

 Most subscribers to this display approach find that the cases work better when organized by style of ring. This results from the agreement that the most commonly asked “first question” of new clients is “Do you have a particular Style of ring in mind?” Most brides have some idea of the type of ring they want. Given the different descriptive words being used to differentiate ring styles, many jewellers have put together a small tray with a sample ring (often alloy) of each of the most popular styles to show what is meant by the different styles. The client then sees what is meant by words such as “Classic or Vintage” The most common shown styles are Classic, Vintage, Halo, Three Stone and Sidestones.

Assuming these styles are correct, the cases are then organized by style, with all the Halo rings being grouped together in a given showcase in an organized manner. The logic for this is simple, the client has told us where her interest lies and we can now take her to the case(s) with all our Halo merchandise in easy reach and open to her examination. In a sense, the non-Halo Bridal merchandise is now immaterial and needs to not distract her from her choice. (We have begun the process of elimination.)  Within that “Halo” case, we might group the rings by designer, by sub-style, by price point or other characteristic.   The choice for the further organization of this case is dictated by the most common next question our salesperson asks. This could be metal color, diamond shape, single or double halo, etc. Once the rings are arranged in trays according to this next characteristic, the trays should be arranged by Good-Better-Best. Place the “Good” trays nearer the front of the showcase, the “Better” merchandise at mid-case and the “Best”, nearer the salespersons side (back) of the case. The back of the case is the “sweet spot” where the customer’s eye goes first, so take advantage of the eye-traffic and emphasize the best.

The result is a case with all our Halo goods, sub organized by metal type and diamond shape, then arranged in a good, better, best arrangement. The client sees our selection of her preferences in an easy-to-shop manner and the need for excess movement is eliminated. The salesperson can speak to the selling points of all the selection and move the customer up or down as the sale progresses.

We find the only exception to this organization plan concerns well-known branded rings which are displayed by brand. If you have clients walking in the door asking for “X brand” rings by name, those rings should be in distinctive displays to make the process of finding them easier. If you find you have a significant number of clients asking for a specific Bridal brand (such as Tacori tm or Hearts on Fire tm), that line should be displayed separately and always in vendor-provided brand-distinctive displays with their signage and graphics. You’ll also want to use any vendor provided display that communicates a selling attribute or benefit that you cannot do in your own store display. Always remember to make it easy for your customers to find the object of their interest.

 Consider placing brands that are lesser known or not specifically requested by name in your own store displays. The client for these lesser-known brands is in your store because of your store brand. Use a sign that says “ABC brand by Acme Jewellers” if you want to promote their name, instead of using their display. Using your own store displays also has the added benefit of making it easier to organize your inventory by logical groupings.

A word here about the sales approach to avoid confusion…If you ask your sales team members, you’ll likely find there are some similarities between the actual questions asked of clients and their sequence in the selling process.  The co-ordination of the selling process among the store’s salespeople makes it much easier to organize the cases in a manner that makes selling more effective. It is easier if all salespeople use a similar question sequence since the cases will be arranged this way. This does not mean, the sales presentations are identical (no memorized scripts or other canned presentations). It does mean that the entire sales staff uses their own words but follows an agreed-to sequence that allows them to go directly to the part of the case that holds the merchandise being requested by the client.

As with any new display arrangement, it is important to try different approaches, setups, layouts and strategies, track the response from the clients, adjust and retry. Successful displays are ones that sell jewelry. Period. You’ll never know what really is effective without a record keeping system that tracks how different approaches have performed. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

The marketplace for Bridal merchandise is a rapidly changing landscape. New products, new trends, new competitors, new ideas, come along almost every month. For retailers to expect success using the same old displays and strategies of years past is handicapping your own success.  Rethink how you are selling. Look inside the mindset of your client for inspiration on how to make your sales grow. Make it easier for them and they will reward you with their purchases.