A new year offers retailers a chance to manage their stores a little differently. For store owners in the mood for some deep soul searching—or even perhaps a mild business catharsis—consider taking Pam Danziger’s “Retailers’ Self-Test” (the corresponding answer key can be viewed here).
As the president of Unity Marketing and author of Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, and other retail-related books, Danziger’s “Does Your Shop Pop?” self-test gives retailers a chance to better evaluate how their stores attract customers, and, more importantly, keeps them shopping in their stores longer.
Before jumping into the test, let’s learn a little something about the information and retail data that helped Danziger create it. For Danziger, there are seven factors in the “Pop Equation,” so it follows that there are seven questions for retailers to answer. Here are the seven factors as presented by Danziger.
Customer Involvement and Interaction: The leading factor in Danziger’s Pop Equation is the oft-quoted research that states: “In order to increase sales, a retailer needs to increase the time and/or increase the customer interaction with the store owner’s product.” To do this Danziger stresses the importance of a retail store owner to build a community in their market.
She looks at Barnes & Noble, with its plush and comfy reading areas next to counters where a variety of hot and cold coffee concoctions are sold alongside bakery items as a good example where “involved customers create a community where people feel they are part of the store and invested in the store experience,” says Danziger. “People who like to shop in your store are also likely to like each other as they are of like minds. These experiences draw shoppers back again and again.”
Getting jewelry customers more involved in a retail jeweler’s store and interacting more with the product they sell is in keeping with today’s trendy cause marketing campaigns, spending promotional dollars to get store owners out in the community instead spending money on ads to bring customers in to the store, and how these and other in-store events are all about a soft-sell approach that appeals to younger bridal customers.
Ways retailers can create a community and give customers a chance to bond with those holding similar interests in jewelry is to host a fashion show with local boutique. Danziger says the cross-promotional event allows customers to see the latest trends and how these new looks are accessorized with jewelry.
Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing
Building a community is a natural extension of a jeweler’s community outreach efforts in working with non-profits and charities that are important to the local community, be it a homeless shelter, a children’s hospital or clinic, or perhaps supporting a local library or zoo. Today’s more socially conscious consumers actually actively seek out this quality in a retailer.
Monthly wine tasting events are becoming hugely popular with retail jewelers. Whether it’s a “First Friday” or “Last Friday” of the month party, nothing brings like minds together in a jewelry store better than fine wine, delicious finger foods, music, and atmosphere in an appealing retail space where the jewelry counters are completely covered to send a strong message that this is a non-sales event.
Another community builder is tapping into the spirit of the 3/50 Project. Retail jewelers in downtown areas or shopping districts are coming together with neighboring merchants to let people in their community know that even with Big Box stores in town, local business owners have the same goods and perhaps more choices than say Target or Walmart.
Evoke Curiosity: Visual merchandising and inventory management are the key elements of drawing people into your jewelry store. If customers and passersby ask themselves “what’s going on here?” and want to investigate further, satisfying their curiosity with creative displays and enticing merchandise will get them in the store and spending more time in your showroom.
Bridal being the most lucrative product category for retail jewelers, Danziger suggests not displaying rows and rows of product. “Try putting wedding outfits in a display window and have some jewelry product along side it,” says Danziger. “Be creative with your displays. This catches people’s eyes and gives them a reason to come into your store.”
Merchandise itself can be a big draw. Dream pieces of jewelry that although exceed the spending threshold of the average customer, gets people to stop, look, and wonder. With the Tucson gem shows coming up, retailers should take time to shop for visually enticing gemstone specimens. Geodes are a retailer favorite, as are colored stones found in their host materials, crystals and even exceptional fossils.
With regards to actual jewelry inventory and displays, do your best to display pieces the average person doesn’t normally see—be it styles from a designer your competitor doesn’t carry to jewelry made in unique styles or with alternative materials.
Bread-and-butter bridal and diamond fashion inventory should be displayed in such a way as to create visual interest. If inventory isn’t turning, move certain non-performing jewelry to other areas of the store. Some jewelers change up their displays quarterly, monthly or even weekly to keep the same store inventory looking fresh and new.
Contagious, Electric Quality: Danziger echoes the jewelry retailing axiom that: “The biggest mistake a retailer can make is thinking they’re in the product business: They’re in the people business.” The irony is the product, how it’s displayed and customer interaction with the product is what gets people in the store and attracts others to follow them into a particular retail space. Danziger’s leading example is the Apple stores.
The dos and don’ts of creating an “electric” quality about your store is avoiding the exterior sensory stimulus, such as speakers outside the store. “Piping music to the outside is simply the wrong approach,” says Danziger. “Contagious electricity that excites shoppers has to grow organically from the emotional interaction between people.”
In addition to having the product that draws people in a retailer has to have staffers on hand who are extroverts and engage the customer in ways that draw people into the products on display as part of the overall store experience. This is what allows the electric quality of store to grow “organically,” according to Danziger.
This is especially true for retail jewelry stores. “Many people are intimidated by the product and how it’s displayed,” says Danziger. “With jewelry packed in display cases, the challenge for a retail jeweler is to make jewelry exciting and fresh.”
Convergence Atmosphere, Design, and Merchandise: The ability to bring together atmosphere, design, and inventory is a defining exercise for retail jewelers. Here Danziger quotes Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA, one of the nation’s leading retail design, brand strategy, and architectural firms. In his many visual merchandising and design articles, Nisch defines the convergence of these elements that create a “paradox environment,” where people confront the unexpected and surprises throughout the store, from one where customers find the ordinary and expected, or a “parallel environment.”
A favorite “paradox environment” example for Danziger is the Anthropologie stores. The fashion boutique chain has some fun by combining funky fashions, including carefully curated fashion jewelry, with home décor items to create surprises for the shopper throughout the store. “Create paradoxes that compels curiosity,” says Danziger.
For retail jewelers, Danziger plays the cross-promotional card again. “Work with local merchants to create interesting visual merchandising displays,” says Danziger. “This not only speaks to your creative display techniques but creates mutually beneficial relationships with other merchants in your area.”
Danziger’s Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience
Values-Driven Concept: The vision of a retailer gives customers a reason to buy jewelry or frequent your store. This is where a retailer’s niche in the market and/or store events can give customers something that goes beyond a distinctive retail experience.
Gaining product knowledge from a jewelry store that specializes in colored stones or hosting educational events that enhance a customer’s appreciation and knowledge of gemstones and finished jewelry creates a sense of indebtedness and gratitude from customers. And, these thoughts and emotions are associated with your store and its products, ensuring not only repeat visits but creating brand ambassadors that become part of the best and most time-honored form of advertising—word-of-mouth.
A favorite example is a dog boutique client of Danziger’s. “Although my client has some unique specialty products at her dog boutique, there isn’t much a dog owner couldn’t find at PetSmart cheaper,” says Danziger. “But what this client offers dog owners is organizing events where dogs can socialize. Dogs have a pack mentality and social interaction with other dogs is something they need. Other pet shops and Big Box stores don’t offer that.”
Another favorite example is Prairie Edge, a Native American Indian cultural and giftware retail outlet. “In addition to unique items to shop for, Native American Indian cultural enthusiasts can go there to learn more about what interests them,” says Danziger. “It’s like a museum where you can touch things.”
Price/Value Model that Favors the Customer: The “Great Recession” has made the price/value model more relevant for retail jewelers today than at any time in recent history. Now more than ever, retail jewelers have had to adjust price points on merchandise, are carrying jewelry that was once kept at arm’s length as it wasn’t in keeping with the store’s up-scale image in the community, and are hosting more sales-related events than in the past.
And with greater numbers of distribution points such as Big Box retailers and online destinations, “discounting is the story or meaning of these stores,” says Danziger. “But that’s just dumbed-down retailing.”
For retail jewelers especially, the key to contending with today’s customer in the current economy is creating value in the products sold. With a more informed customer base, shoppers today are far more knowledgeable on the value of products.
“In the past the price/value model was all about how can I get a good deal,” says Danziger. “Today it’s all about how smart consumers are and their knowledge of your products. If they sense there isn’t a good value proposition for what you’re charging for your jewelry, they’ll buy it somewhere else or online.”
Accessible, free from pretensions: The final factor in the Pop Equation is being open, welcoming, and accessible to customers. Jewelry shopping is an intimidating experience and jewelry stores have to remove the intimidation factor from their store environments.
Once again, to take the self-test click on “Retailer Self-Test” to complete the online form to take the self-test.
And, click on Answer Key to assess your self-test results.