Make a great first impression

As a brand, you are always vying for customer attention. How do you achieve that? By controlling what they perceive about you. You may not be the best in the industry but if you can enhance your perceived value by some means, you turn out to be the one, at least in the eyes of your customers. Heena Handa shows you how.

In the new retail culture, where it is important to shop at the ‘right’ place but still get a bargain, we often see businesses that have been around for generations fading into oblivion, as newer, showier brands wrestle their way into prominence. What we see today is that showrooms once ‘done up’ are often left untouched for a decade or more, other than a polish and paint job. The upside of this is that the money spent on doing it up, has been recovered and with a minimum of investment it’s as good as new!

That sadly, is the misconception.

In the past two years (forget about five or even, ten years) the retail business has changed dramatically. To understand consumer trends – what attracts them, the way they buy, their loyalty, your refer ability – everything boils down to how you make them feel special. Hotels redecorate every two years. They have to. So now, even stores need to refurbish. No one can rely on past glory to stay alive in the market.

The rise in the use of smartphones and social media means that your store can be positively or negatively in news in an instant. You have one chance to make an impact. Return on investment, or ROI is the new mantra. Let’s see how this affects the jewellery showroom. It’s all about visibility. The more visible you are, the more you are likely to attract those footfalls.

The first eye-catcher is the signage. How do you tell people who you are and what you do? Sometimes you may have to re-brand your store. For example – if it was established in 1912, boast about it! It’s one of your USPs! Depending on your target audience, you may want a small, quiet sign or a large flamboyant one but advisably get your designer to give you variations for both kinds, using a variety of material to create the difference. Various kinds of signage, such as that visible from across the road, from the car window, walking past at close proximity… all of these are required. One sign is usually not enough.

The second attention grabbing attempt is the show window. If you believe that the more you show, the more you sell, you are likely to be called ‘old school’ and for a good reason. You have to entice your customers to stop by. Use lights (and this is the only place I would suggest halogens), colours (or lack of) and blank spaces to draw the eye immediately to your showstopper in the window, which should have only a very small number of pieces on display. Use other means to show that you have a wide variety. I’ll give you a clue: technology!

Now that we have addressed visibility, let’s see how we can start converting this visibility into profitability.

Does your brand talks to your target audience about the unique characteristics of your collection? If there is too much on display, the eye will not be able to pick out or absorb the finer points of what is on offer. Focus on what is your specialty and then, you can think of crowding up the rest. ‘Zoning’ works even in small spaces. Separate viewing areas from interaction areas. Let customers get their noses against vertical glass cases – the closer they get, the more they are likely to be tempted. But put in a security system first!

Keep the tables or counters clear from below so that knees are not banging into the front of the case. Instruct your designer to create smaller intimate spaces to serve each customer separately. Make them feel special and valued. If your customer is comfortable, they are more likely to pay attention to what you show them. Relationships are built on comfort and trust.

Lighting is a key design component in a jewellery store. It draws the viewer’s attention on merchandise. Ambient light, accent light and shelf light, all have a role play in creating an overall experience for your customer. Material makes a huge impact as well. Apt usage of leather, suede, mirror and metallic hues like rose gold, bronze and pewter can enhance your store’s overall look and feel. Make sure that the interiors do not merge with the jewellery instead allows the latter to distinctively pop up.

Now that you have relooked at your experience centre (the showroom), if you actually consider the amount you would be required to spend for a considerable return on investment, or ROI, the idea does not even seem like a gamble.

Consumer behavior trends should be an intrinsic part of every business, if that business wants to grow and show return on investment. As the business ages, so too do families expand. The next generation enters the picture. Newer ideas are implemented, and all of these are just methods to influence the customer to buy. Specialists have entered the field, and we are told that “specific is terrific”.

Are you creating the legacy you will leave the generations to come ?

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