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- Created on Thursday, 17 September 2009 11:27
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[h4]Better dust off those sleigh bells and iron the wrinkles out of that big red suit – the Yuletide will be here before you can say seven swans a-swimming five times fast! (Don’t try it... you’ll just prove us right). Lest visions of sugar plums cause you to wake each morning in a cold sweat, Instore’s intrepid band of sleuths have tracked down the most innovative holiday advice and recommendations from across the country. Ready to ditch that construction paper wreath and paper maiché snowman? We’ve got 27 up-to-the-minute display tips to turn your ho-hum showroom into a veritable winter wonderland. Snow promotion just not drawing traffic like it used to? Here’s a bevy of cutting-edge promotional ideas that will have customers scooting into your store faster than a reindeer on a slick roof. Are your plain-vanilla Christmas cards leaving clients cold? Check out our selection of the hottest holiday mailers of 2005, sure to warm the hearts (and thaw the pocketbooks) of even the Scroogiest souls. Just in time for your holiday preparations, we’re bringing you got all the ingredients for a holiday selling season that would make any spirit bright! So grab a mug of hot cider, throw some chestnuts on the open fire, and read on ... [h4]
STORIES BY TRACE SHELTON AND PAUL HOLEWA
[h3]27 Ways To Make Your Store's Look Pop[/h3]
1. Ensure that your holiday design fits your overall brand identity. Frivolous displays might have been okay ten years ago, but no longer. “This is the Age of Strategy and the Experience Economy,” says Bruce Brigham, FASID, principal of Retail Clarity Consulting and member of the American Society of Interior Designers Board of Directors. “You have to ask the question: how can my holiday story reinforce my brand? And, it has to be meaningful and relevant to your customers.” When brainstorming ideas for your holiday environment, choose a scheme that will help customers further understand what sets you apart from your competitors. If you’re selling high-end product, stay away from a hand-crafted, artisan approach, advises Donna Lawson, Senior Creative Director at Watt International. “The environment and identity of the store become the background for visual merchandising,” she says. “Changing up your visual merchandising const antly will keep your store fresh, but it must stay in line with your canvas.”
2. Less is more. Don’t overwhelm your showroom with garlands, Christmas trees, and other holiday paraphernalia. Lawson says to keep things “bold and simple”. Adds Linda Cahan of Cahan & Co. Retail Visual Design, “Lots of little things mean nothing. They get lost.” She advises store owners to use one or two things to draw the eye — perhaps one hanging from the ceiling, then a matching decoration in or on the showcase to bring the design together and draw the eye down to the jewelry. Brigham says this holds true in front windows as well, and suggests showcasing a few fabulous pieces with tall, elegant neck forms or risers in bold Christmas colors.
3. Move your merchandise. During the Christmas season, a shopper can pass by your jewelry store several times in a short amount of time. That’s why Steve Kidwell, Chippenhook’s vice president of design, suggests shifting around your merchandise every few days. “If a customer walks by your store’s display on a Monday and sees that your store sells gold jewelry, and comes back a few days later and sees watches in your display window, that leaves a good impression on the range of inventory your store carries,” he says.
4. Classic Christmas colors can still work. If your merchandising is done on grays or whites, you can easily use red and green, says Brigham. These two colors are the simplest, most effective way to say “Christmas.” But, if they clash with your store, you will have to go to an alternative — perhaps blue and white winter colors. Brigham suggests staying away from silver and gold colors, as they will steal attention away from your merchandise.
5. Take your lead from high fashion. Christmas used to be solely about straightforward color schemes and icons. But in the 21st century, anything goes, says Lawson, who suggests that fashion can provide your ultimate inspiration. “Instead of limiting yourself to Christmas, think ‘holidays,’” urges Lawson. “A celebratory focus would include New Year’s Day as well, and allows you to go with glitz and glam.” She says luxury and rich textiles, such as furs and velvets, are in vogue. And this fall, look for the return of black, a classic color for any elegant celebration. “Black was never really out, but it’s really coming back this season.”
6. Hold a showcase decorating contest. At Justice Jewelers, the sales staff is divided into three groups. Each group is then given a budget and assigned a group of cases to decorate with a theme of their choice. The cases are judged by a team of non-sales associates using various criteria. The winning team, after much hard work, is awarded a much-needed extra day off in January. “We did this for our recent anniversary sale and our customers were delighted with the results,” says owner Woody Justice, who is planning on a repeat performance for the holidays.
7. Give it some glow. Jewelry sparkles, and your store décor should do no less. Anything metallic, pearlescent, or iridescent is much better than flat colors, says Cahan. Adding sheen to your color scheme is one of the latest waves in retail. Why? It draws the eye and holds customer interest, a must in today’s competitive marketplace.
[contentheading]Props & Themes[/contentheading]
8. Work in a Winter Wonderland. Kidwell offers instructions on creating an ice-pond effect in your front window or display case, take a custom-fit piece of acrylic that’s a quarter-inch thick. The natural hue of ice can be achieved by placing a colored sheet of paper (or the green bubble wrap provided by many packing supply companies) under the acrylic. Add some fake snow, a few branches, and you’ll have a convincing frozen pond in your window.
9. Let it snow. Many jewelers are using monofilament (that’s fishing line for you non-anglers) in their displays and store decorations for a stealth approach. A handy display can contain eight to 10 glittery snowflakes strung on monofilament. A small fan inside the display case, or one strategically placed near it, can provide a steady stream of air to create movement and the illusion of falling snow.
10. Put a new twist on the Christmas tree concept. Eve J. Alfillé of Eve J. Alfillé Gallery & Studio (Evanston, IL) has started a new yuletide tradition by featuring an abstract, wrought-iron tree in one corner of her store. The tree sits near a display window, and is generally garnished with beaded necklaces. “The cost is under a certain amount, so we don’t mind leaving them in the open so customers may handle them and try them on,” says Alfillé. One Christmas season, the store added shimmering organza pouches to the branches, and let the customers pick which color they liked for the necklaces they were buying.
11. Ahoy! Children’s Treasure Chest off the starboard bow! Wm H Diller Jewelers has uncovered a gem of a concept to keep kids occupied so Mom can shop. “We have a gold spray-painted, sequin-studded treasure chest filled with children’s necklaces and rings,” says co-owner Cindy Lis. For kids, it’s like finding presents under the tree on Christmas morning. And, these little treasure hunters could be your future shoppers. As Lis says, “We figure the earlier you get people hooked on jewelry, the better.”
12. Display Christmas cards from customers & friends. Jewelry means relationships ... and what better way to show it than to honor your store’s “family”? “Celebrating your customers is a wonderful thing to do at Christmas time,” says Brigham. And when you include your customers, chances are they’ll include you in their purchases.
13. Use a mailbox to celebrate relationships. A shoestring budget and a little elbow grease are all it takes to turn a mailbox into a cool prop for your store, says Cahan. “Purchase some faux gems and use hot glue to cover your mailbox with them,” she says. “It’s easy, inexpensive, and very cool.” She suggests showcasing the mailbox with items pouring out of it, such as jewelry, or your jewelry box. You could also combine it with one of our other tips, using the mailbox to show off the Christmas cards you’ve received from customers. Cahan says you could even make mailboxes a recurring theme, strategically placing a few in your showcases and decorating them in holiday fashion.
14. Cover themed items in eye-catching materials. Whether it’s sequins, metallic paper, gold paint, or fashionable pailettes, customers dig shiny objects. And you can shine up just about anything. “People love anything oversized of decent quality,” says Cahan. She suggests a huge pine cone sprayed gold, or a Christmas ornament ball filled with poinsettias. Another shining example is Bloomingdale’s Styrofoam snowman, which was primed, covered in iridescent paint, and then decorated with jewelry. Cahan recommends that jewelers do something similar using faux jewelry. “Creating your own piece just adds energy,” she says, warning retailers to avoid mass-produced pieces.
15. Put a spin on a classic theme. People love Christmas, and they never get tired of the same old themes— but you can make them even more interesting by putting a slight twist on the usual. From stars, to presents, snow, winter, and sleigh bells, a variety of choices exist. For example, if you decide to go with a “Three Wise Men” theme, go for something different. Says Brigham: “Don’t just use the manufacturers’ idea of the Wise Men. You could create an abstract, artistic, sculptural representation of the Magi. With a robe and crown, and an abstract shape, this could be really elegant and classy. Mold them in plastic so you can have several. Then, add a star in the sky on a black window backdrop, simple and dramatic.” Another theme suggested by Brigham is nostalgia, like using old photographs of people in the snow (this idea is especially appropriate if your store has a long history).
16. Tie up your store in a red ribbon. Cartier wrapped their entire building in a red ribbon. You could do the same for your interior, suggests Brigham. Take beautiful French ribbons (3-4 inches wide) and sew the ends into a nice point. Put a bell on the ends and drape them across your display cases, the ends dropping to hang down in front where your cases join. As customers browse, they will brush up against the drapes, causing the bells to jingle. The vivid bands of color across your store and the sound of bells jingling will instantly put your customers in a holiday mood. For the finishing touch, “put a cut-glass vase on top of the ribbon with a sprig of pine, to add scent,” suggests Brigham.
17. Christmas balls ... a real kick in the pants. Who said ball-shaped ornaments were only appropriate for Christmas trees? Put red fabric Christmas balls in your windows next to your risers, and repeat in key areas of the store, says Brigham. He suggests hanging a larger version of the shiny, glass ball ornament behind your showcases or cash wrap as a backdrop, placing smaller ones in the window to pull the theme together. “It’s simple, repetitive, and keeps customer focus squarely on your merchandise,” he states.
18. make something move. Andy Macaulay, Chippenhook’s marketing director, suggests buying something that moves to create visual interest in a display case. Macaulay recalls a Dallas-based jeweler who purchased battery-operated Christmas carolers. “The storeowner purchased the carolers at a local arts and crafts store,” said Macaulay. “What was interesting is the small battery-operated carolers actually moved as they sang. A simple feature like that drew people in closer to have a look.”
19. Use gift bags in window displays. It’s a technique used year-round by shopping experience maven Eve J. Alfillé to subtly emphasize the importance of giving gifts. “We usually line our white-glazed , hot-stamped ‘European shopper’ bags with tissue in tanzanite blue or other colors to complement the background on our current business cards,” says Alfillé. “But for Christmas, we switch to a currant red tissue, and have used pyramids of open, set-up bags in the window as a way to promote the idea of gifting.” Another option, says Brigham, is to hang your bags from fishing line and create a sky of bags in your showroom.
20. Show off your gift-wrapping. Putting wrapped boxes around your store serves two functions. One, it looks really good. And two, it will stop shopping-hating guys — or any shoppers on the go — dead in their tracks. Worried that that seasonal bow will get crushed? Fear not when you can buy flattened bows. If that sounds like buying jeans with the holes already in them, consider they are crush-proof, with pull strings on either side. Simply pull, and presto! Full bows.
21. have a slideshow in your window. After all, you want to show passers-by your best stuff, but it’s rarely practical to have those pieces in your windows. Wm. H Diller Jewelers uses a classy, flat-screen computer monitor in the window to show off their favorite pieces. The monitor is surrounded by products. “It allows shoppers to see our entire line, and it also creates movement in the front window,” says Lis.
22. Use LED lighting displays. One of the newest, coolest technologies to hit retail, LED lighting is programmable to add movement and color to any display. “Many retailers are afraid to do anything different with their lighting,” says Cahan. “With LED lights, you can create a really interesting light show in your windows, and it’s not that expensive.” Anytime you add movement, you attract attention ... and attention is what you’re aftter. LED lights produce no heat, cost as little as $1,000, and are reusable and programmable to fit any occasion — all factors which will help them pay for themselves over time. “LED is the wave of the future,” says Brigham, who notes that Macy’s is already using white LED lights to project snowflakes in their showroom. LED lighting can also be programmed to shift through a variety of colors.
23. Colored, dramatic lighting sparks interest. Color gels are an easy, cost-effective way to introduce color to your lighting, says Brigham. You can re-gel your lights in different colors for various occasions throughout the year. On the higher end, computer-controlled lighting can produce patterns (including your logo!) that rotate and move. “Shapes like falling snow or sparkles can be done in a very classy way,” says Brigham. Your projector could point at the floor, a wall, or even your ceiling. Brigham cites a new jewelry store in Hong Kong that uses a projector in its entryway to throw light onto the sidewalk, and the Watch Pavilion at Basel that projected the interior movement of a watch onto the pavilion ceiling. “Absolutely beautiful,” he notes.
24. Put a zing in your store with laser light. You’ve seen the annoying kid at the movie theater with his red laser light pointed at the screen ... now put that technology to far better use in your showroom. “Purchase lots of these laser lights and add them to your jewelry displays,” says Brigham. “Point them at your diamonds to create a memorable effect of sparkles and refractions.” He advises adding green and white lasers to the scene, if possible.
25. Use side-lighting in your windows. This theatrical effect creates drama, says Brigham. As such, your merchandise will take center stage as this unusual effect mesmerizes unsuspecting passers-by.
[contentheading]Scents and Tastes[/contentheading]
26. Make mouthwatering holiday food part of your store environment. The smell of homemade sweets gets customers thinking good thoughts — of home and warm holiday gatherings. Says Lis: “My Aunt Grace is the absolute best baker around, and years ago we had a plate of her homemade paper-thin sand tarts at the counter. We have now graduated to a small round glass table filled with various clear glass cookie jars, each with different homemade cookies for sampling. Customers come in and ask, ‘Where are Aunt Grace’s cookies?’ We serve them with hot cider — smells great!”
27. BE KEEN ON EVERGREEN. Christmas trees are overdone. But a sprig of fir or spruce suggests the tree in a more creative way, says Brigham. He also says that putting the evergreen scent into your store is “absolutely essential.” In addition to the sprigs placed strategically in cut-glass vases, you can buy scented oils, or even machines that atomize scents into your air ducts. “Smells are powerful, especially at Christmas time,” says Brigham. “This should be at the very top of every retailer’s to-do list!”
[contentheading]Fun With LCDs[/contentheading]
From showing movies of your products, to spiffing up your showroom with custom scents, LCD screens are the latest technology to get retailers buzzing, and just in time for the holidays. Chippenhook VP of Design, Steve Kidwell, notes that with the cost of LCD screens coming down, retailers are increasingly using these attractive products as part of their overall display scheme. Small LCD screens incorporated into displays can play DVDs featuring your store’s products, show a seasonal movie, or even rotate seasonal themes. Regardless of what is shown, the LCD screen brings an interesting visual element to your store that draws shoppers’ attention.
Parents shopping with children are another consideration. No matter the age, keeping an eye on or being mindful of kids distracts parents when shopping. “If the visual is strong enough, like a LCD screen, chances are it will get the kids’ attention,” Kidwell says. “And if it gets the kids’ attention, it also gets mom’s and dad’s attention.”
For those considering the LCD trend, Kidwell suggests buying displays in a “clean” seasonal color like crimson red over a brighter cherry red. In the case, show a few select pieces and perhaps a seasonal trinket or two (a candy cane or Santa). The trick is to avoid clutter.
In addition to getting smaller, LCD technology is getting more sophisticated, appealing to a range of senses — from eyes that catch the visuals, to ears that tune in to audible messages, to even the nose which responds to scented LCD screen displays.
Some of today’s more tech-savvy retailers are using video mirrors, new products from Seattle-based Impart Technology, including big names like Neiman Marcus. Using a single video source, the video mirror can reflect the consumer’s image while displaying a branded message about a particular product, educating consumers about the item while inspiring them to learn more. For shy or unsure customers, the video mirror can encourage them to interact with salespeople. If none are available, such high-tech tools become “silent salespeople,” according to Kidwell.
And if you thought Smellivision was one of those futuristic funnies, the joke is on you. Impart also carries a video mirror that holds up to four scent cartridges that can last up to four to six weeks. The perfume industry, a luxury market cousin, is capitalizing on this technology. A scent from a video mirror can be dispensed on demand or by motion sensors. A mist shot of a scent from a cartridge can remain in the air as long as 30 seconds. Although retail jewelers might not be able to load up those seasonal scents this year, the technology will be ready for distribution by summer of 2006 — in plenty of time for next Christmas.