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

by | Feb 8, 2022 | News | 0 comments

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.