Another highly popular Wednesday session was “An Intellectual Guide to Merchandising,” presented by Anne Catherine Bowcutt, northwest regional sales manager for JCK magazine and a sister publication, Gifts and Decorative Accessories.
Prior to joining JCK, Bowcutt was a regional manager for Joan & David stores as well as Mark Cross leather goods. Her presentation focused on how to intellectualize and how to break down the principles of good visual merchandising.
“People read from left to right, top to bottom. Your merchandise has to tell a concise story, and it has to tell it in the manner people are accustomed to reading.” It’s essential to avoid cluttering up the story with extraneous merchandise. For visual appeal-much of which is subconscious-place merchandise from light to heavy, small to large, light to dark. Again, the process follows the Western reading pattern: left to right, top to bottom. Showcase space should be allocated according to the sales volume of each category, and jewelers must be on top of their sales tracking to be able to merchandise effectively.
Bowcutt also discussed planning traffic flow within the store to maximize merchandise exposure. The average shopping trip is 15 minutes per store, and it’s essential to begin selling as soon as the customer comes in. Therefore, she advised placing the best-selling goods at the first stopping point and visually walking the customer through the store. Men are more likely to home in on what they want; women are more likely to browse the entire store.
Bowcutt wrapped up her discussion with an explanation of color planning, and she stressed many times the importance of cleanliness. No store should be without Goo-Gone, Fantastik, a can of touch-up paint, and a sponge. To illustrate, she sprinkled some audience handouts with smudges and Post-It Notes, to illustrate how much dirt-and notes stuck on the cash register-detract from a store’s visual appeal.