National Jeweler Network

Market Developments

The top 10 mistakes made in displaying merchandise

By Brecken Branstrator

April 24, 2014

San Diego--Jewelers tend to stick with the basics when it comes to their showcases and lose sales because of it, said Larry Johnson of Larry Johnson Consulting at a seminar held Wednesday, the opening day of the 2014 American Gem Society Conclave.

In Johnson’s presentation, he shared the most common mistakes that jewelers make with their showcases and what they can do to fix the problems by understanding correct display approach techniques and signage and by generating new ideas.

Getting the most out of jewelry displays requires deciding what message the store wants to convey to its customers about its brand using the cases, implementing new changes, tracking the impact and modifying as needed.

The top 10 mistakes that jewelers make are as follows:

1. Not displaying with intention or not displaying for the store it wants to become. Often, display strategies are overlooked or not considered. Think about “presentation,” and not just getting it all into the case. Be sure to note if the product is just being put in the cases or being placed to help guide individuals in their shopping.

Try something new, keep records, adjust and repeat. Johnson advises taking photos of every display on the first of every month and using the sales data to make display decisions. What is selling, and what needs to improve? What price points are most popular? What categories are not performing?

2. Not knowing sales and profit targets per showcase and managing accordingly. Start by determining sales and profit targets per foot of case, using total merchandise sales and total running feet of showcase space. The goal is to have a store in which space is allocated in accordance with where store wants to go from both a sales and profit perspective.

3. Using improperly placed, incorrect or unflattering lighting. LED lights are usually the best options for the cases, according to Johnson. Use only true commercial-grade lights--cheap lights will fade and change color in a matter of months, negating the investment. Also, insist on lights with a five-year warranty, and ask suppliers for references of clients with whom they’ve worked. Then visit their stores to see how the lights are holding up. In terms of positioning, lights should not be more than 8 to 10 feet above the floor, and must be aimed correctly.

4. Not using in-store monitors to build sales. Customers are now used to seeing monitors everywhere they go, so it’s important for retailers to turn theirs into a selling aid that prompts the customer to buy. For stores who aren’t sure how to do this, Johnson recommended, which charges a one-time setup charge and monthly fees to send fresh slides every month. For those who create their own slides, be sure to promote special items, price-pointed merchandise, store services, local events (which can give inspiration for where to wear the products), interesting jewelry facts, and images of customers that have purchased from the store. Include jewelry pictures as much as possible.

5. Not using signage to help make the sale. Signs can help salespeople remember the selling points--tent signs on display can include selling points and features of the products to touch on during the sales presentation. In this way, signs also allow the owner or manager of the store to have more influence over how salespeople conduct the sale. Signage also can show featured items in each case to attract attention to a particular item intentionally, increasing the probability that somebody will buy it. Adding the “handmade” message is a good one to advertise on signage as well, Johnson said.

Deciding whether or not to include prices on signs depends on the store itself, though Johnson noted that he’s not a fan of it, as shoppers may start browsing based on prices rather than products. A better option may be to list price ranges instead of individual prices, allowing customers to be guided as well as making it easier for sales people to sell customers up.

Ultimately, signs should be positive, informative, enthusiastic, timely, and use colorful, emotional words. They should never distract from the merchandise.

6. Using the wrong tray densities for the merchandise. The display element should be matched to the value of the piece. Johnson advised trying his ‘20-40-40’ rule for 60 days: take the top 20 percent of the merchandise (based on price, what the store most wants to sell, or whatever the determination may be) in a category, and display in a specific vignette or case. Then take the middle 40 percent and put those pieces on low density trays that hold around 3 to 5 pieces. The bottom 40 percent can be put in trays of 7,9,12 or more if necessary. In this way, the store is differentiating merchandise by display, and it makes the cases a little more interesting.

7. Improper use of vendor-provided displays. “Free doesn’t always mean that they’re a great idea,” Johnson said. To evaluate if the store should use them, ask the following questions: Do they promote their brand or the store’s brand? Do the sizes and colors fit with the store’s look? What do they add to make the sale easier? Johnson suggested using the display if it’s a brand of jewelry that customer asks for by name. Don’t use them they require too much time explaining the brands, if it’s too big or the wrong color, or if it makes the store-brand goods have a lower perceived value. Additionally, plan ahead by ordering display elements in the store colors for use when the vendor displays are removed.

8. Not featuring specific merchandise in each case to direct sales. A good idea is to implement the “key item” concept to attract attention to one particular piece. They should be at a price point that’s about 20 percent higher than average sale price from that case, priced at full margin, appears to be a good value, and displayed so everyone sees it when they look at the case. It’s also a good idea to put two that are 40 percent more than the average sale price on either side in case they want to spend more.

Johnson also noted that he has found the “gift ideas” strategy to be successful--choose a number of great gift ideas for special occasions for clients ahead of their visit, be sure each is replaceable and at full margin and identify them in the cases. This should include items at all price points and from around the store.

9. Organizing the store by vendor. The customer doesn’t care which vendor the product is from, so there’s no need to make it confusing for them. Organize the store that imitates the way they shop, whether that be by style, color, etc.

10. Hiding the good stuff among all the bad stuff. Johnson said that if merchandise is still in the case after 12 months, there’s a 90 percent chance it will still be there 5 years later. Since there’s such a short amount of time to make an impression on shoppers, those opportunities shouldn’t be wasted on product that has already proved to be unpopular. Johnson advised taking products that are 12 months or older off the sales floor and stowing them in the vault for a while.