Looking Without Seeing


You may know how to grade a diamond, but seeing the flaws in your own store displays might not be your strongest suit.

by Larry Johnson

During a recent trip to a conference, a friend asked me to stop by his jewellery store for a quick analysis of his displays and perhaps a few suggestions on how they could be improved.

When I walked into the store, my friend was looking at the diamond in a ring brought in by a customer. He was very precise in grading the colour and clarity of the stone. He spoke of an inclusion and the slight shades of the yellow he saw. Given my reasonably mediocre eyesight (not to mention a slight colour blindness to pinks), I was struck by how well his talents were being professionally presented. He saw things in that stone that I might have never noticed.

The customer commented that she had never even noticed the attributes he had shown her in her ring. After she left, he and I began to look at his store displays. In the blink of an eye, my friend transitioned from a detailed observer of minor nuances to being virtually blind to his surroundings.

His store was presentable but had it’s own “inclusions.” His displays were only a few years old, but due to the inferior quality of materials used and inadequate construction, they were not doing his merchandise any service. Several of the risers had medium brown glue visible on the white leatherette at the seams. Not surprisingly, that glue migration is common on Chinese displays made by lesser quality firms. I suggested we discard the platforms and replace them with new ones.

The leatherette material had turned to a pale yellow shade of its own in the case. Again, cheaper quality displays made of inferior materials are notorious for such fade. I suggested we swap out these yellow displays for some that were still the original colour.

He had ordered his displays based on a current sale the distributor was offering and not based on his merchandise. Therefore, he had lots of individual displays and a few high quantity trays. A ring was destined to either be in a display alone or in a tray with six others. This eliminated a good-better-best display approach that works so well. (FYI: In this approach, the “best” rings are in individual elements, the “better” ones are in trays of three, and the “good” rings are in trays of five). I suggested we get some 3-ring trays for this case to put this proven strategy into place.

The showcase nearest to the door of the store was full of men’s jewellery and I assumed that this category was a top seller. Unfortunately, the storeowner responded with, “No, not really, but all of my stock fit into that 3-inch showcase.” I suggested that we replace the merchandise in that case with product that’s new to the store and perhaps more fashionable.

The pendant LED lights above the showcases seemed to be underperforming. One had a yellowish cast and they just did not have the punch you’d expect being only a meter or so above the cases. Again, initial cost had been the deciding factor in their purchase. I gave the storeowner the name of a firm with excellent lights that have a 5-year warranty to remain brilliant (at an overall store cost of less than $200 total above what he had spent on the deficient lights).

We also talked about his windows and their purpose. We removed all smaller items from the wall cases behind his showcases that required customers to use binoculars in order to see them. We added some signs with monthly payments for higher priced items in his better cases and we put in place a “Top 10 Gift Ideas” program that took about an hour to complete from start to finish.

In a matter of less than two hours on-site, my friend was very pleased with the ideas and suggestions. He said that some of the observations I made were things he had never even noticed in his store before.

I was drawn to the similarity of his comment and the one from his recent diamond customer. All too often, we do not see what is obvious because we do not look. There is a difference between “seeing and really looking.” We allow ourselves to be caught in our own cycle of daily repetition.

Take time in your daily routine, to come out from behind the showcase and really look at your presentation. Look for areas where improvements can be made. Look at your use of your showcases. Look at your lights and cases. Look at your store sales goals for guidance on how to allocate your showcase space. Look at your costs for any new displays as an investment in your sales. Look at your store with the same insight you bring to your diamonds. You might be pleasantly surprised with the increased sales you see. CJ