Retail stores often suffer from a lack of thoughtful branding. When trying to cull a large group of brands together, the store itself can easily get lost in the shuffle. Fine designer brands, on the other hand, are ideally suited to carving out a specific niche for their signature look and feel. I sat down with New York City’s Alexandra Mor, whose demi-couture house of jewelry offers a signature collection of limited-edition pieces as well as one-of-a-kind and custom designs, to talk about the branding and merchandising decisions that have made her stand out. These tactics can and should be applied to retail store to create a unique, finished presentation.
JCK: What have you specifically done in terms of POS materials, packaging, displays, etc., to make your brand cohesive and to ensure it follows your mission?
Alexandra Mor: Easy. Don’t skimp on your budget when it comes to packaging. It’s the first thing a potential client sees and it gives them an idea of what’s in store for them. Quality and a consistent brand messaging are two key elements to your packaging; it is as important as the jewelry itself. Just look at what Apple does with theirs—talk about God being in the details. Packaging is an integral part of the overall purchasing experience and it should, in my view, represent the core essence and feel of brand. It’s that attention and care that will show how much you care about the customer experience. And you should.
JCK: Do you have someone in-house, or do you hire specialists to help with visual merchandising?
AM: Designing my visual merchandising, to me, is as fun as designing jewelry. As my brand’s creative director and designer I enjoy doing it all in my Atelier with the help of my wonderful team. I feel privileged to be able to work with them. And it’s especially rewarding to be able to produce small enough quantities where we can stay very close to how we present ourselves, and control everything from concept to production. We’re a boutique house in essence, and we partner with the right manufacturer who delivers the quality that we stand for, while staying true to the brand and our voice.
JCK: One of your retail venues is online. How can a brand or store make its product stand out online?
AM: I like staying in touch with my customers on a regular basis. And being online is crucial to that end. Staying connected with my customers via email and through social media has been imperative to driving traffic to alexandramor.com and 1stdibs. They’re a great tool as you can communicate with your customers as they’re browsing online. If you take smartphones into consideration, that means 24/7. So i strongly suggest ensuring that all your communications are formatted for mobile devices as well. Over 25 percent of my emails are opened and read on smart phones and iPads. I’m not on Facebook, but I do love Twitter and send out regular monthly emails. I tweet mostly about what inspires me: art, design, and fashion and more. I’m also a big fan of Tumblr. It’s a great way to create an online portfolio without any programming or graphic design costs. And as we all know, less business costs help you sleep better at night.
JCK: Do you have any tips for retailers looking to spice up their visual displays?
- If you have the budget, hire a professional. If your budget is limited, get your store team involved.
- Think about your display as a canvas to draw upon.
- Define who you are and who your client is. Are you a brand, or are you promoting other brands?
- Consider if you should you make all displays in the store look the same?
- Ask yourself: “What do I want my customers to ‘experience’ when they visit my store?” What do they see, feel, smell, hear?”
- Think about the season, its colors.
- Give each piece the space it needs. Less is more.
- Take a trip to the local flea market, flower district, and get creative with props. Think theme, texture, and background.
- Think 360 degrees—your displays should look nice from every angle.
- Lighting is key.
- Add a photo of the designer/artist. Develop a tag line. What’s your company name? You need to give your jewelry a face.
- Whatever you do, think like an artist and search for the white space. Be true to who you are, and have fun—amazing things will come out of it.
- Be inspired by others, but never duplicate.
Author of A Girl’s Guide to Buying Diamonds, Randi Molofsky has covered the fine jewelry and gemstone industries for 12 years. A noted contributor to fashion and business publications ranging from W to New York, and the former fashion editor at National Jeweler, she also serves as a strategic consultant for industry organizations and high-profile designers. Randi muses on personal style and design at pimpsqueak.com.