Retailers realise they must refit and relocate to compete.
In the world of store design, jewellers have traditionally failed to offer inspirational contributions. But times are changing and jewellers are swapping windows of faded pads for fresh store fits and engaging retail experiences. Join the revolution.
Retailers around the globe are consistently producing innovative, engaging and awe-inspiring store fits. But while the Apples, Anthropologies and Swarovskies of this world are creating pioneering shops, the majority of jewellers are lagging behind.
“Some of the best-known high street jewellers seem to have been left behind when it comes to innovation in store design,” says Nick Gray, managing director of retail marketing agency Live&Breathe.
“Other retail sectors have transformed the look and feel of their stores dramatically, and used a variety of techniques to make the shopping experience an exciting and engaging one. The jewellery sector could do well to look to other industries for inspiration, especially at this time of year when there is an opportunity to take stock and plan for the months ahead.”
One of Britain’s more traditional chains is doing just that. Signet is planning to refurbish or relocate 23 stores and redecorate 85 shops. It has also been experimenting with pop-up shops, opening temporary H Samuel and Ernest Jones stores at London’s Waterloo and Paddington train stations in the run-up to Valentine’s Day.
“Signet’s pop-up shops were a real success,” says Gray. “It took a seasonal gifting occasion to an unexpected location and created an element of surprise. The initiative acted as a powerful prompt to purchase and had a positive impact on brand perception.”
And if Signet can get creative, then so can the rest of the industry. And things are starting to change, according to Mark Giddings of store design agency Giddings Design.
“Jewellers, at long last, are not simply following traditional convention; we’re finally seeing a trend for breaking with the traditional styling that’s been inherent for the past 50 years,” he says.
The popularity of branded jewellery has been partly responsible for this shift. Most brands offer point-of-sale material that instantly creates a brand experience that improves the atmosphere of the whole store.
“Continental branded design influences from brands such as
Pandora are stimulating a passion for cleaner design,” says Giddings.
“We’re creating shop-in-shop experiences for leading brands and these often act as a catalyst for the store owner to upgrade other areas accordingly.”
Charm brand Charming by Ti Sento unveiled just such a clean, branded display solution at BaselWorld. It has created wall units and towers that showcase charms slotted into multiple rows using a plastic clip that allows them to securely dangle free and be played with by shoppers. When the charms are sold, the retailer can snap off a plastic attachment, which has a barcode to allow for ease of reordering, and the remainder of the plastic clip is used to hang the charm vertically inside a presentation box, minimising waste.
Northampton retailer Steffans changed its strategy to focus on branded jewellery two years ago and this is reflected in its store design. Its latest shop fit has clearly defined branded areas for labels such as Thomas Sabo, Swarovski and Pandora.
But Steffans doesn’t rely on another brand’s experience. It has created its own brand and reflects this in exclusive graphics in store, on the exterior and its website, creating a unified message.
Such consistency is crucial, according to Giddings, who has noticed many a jeweller spruce up the inside of its store without carrying this through to the window displays.
“Ensure your window display projects your styling too,” urges Giddings. “Too many shops fill their windows with acres of super-cheap but bland white pads or, even worse, faded dirty acrylics.”
Giddings says that for a minimal outlay, getting windows right can improve a retailer’s bottom line, acting as the first point of contact with shoppers and enticing them into the store. “Take a genuine pleasure in window dressing,” he advises. “It will bring huge financial benefits.”
London independent retailer Kabiri works with its designers to create special window displays to mark collection launches or events, and during London Fashion Week this year the retailer collaborated with Daydream Nation for Peter Jensen and Charlotte Daffern.
Creating themed windows might give more traditional retailers the chills, because it can mean focusing on a single range. “Too often windows are used to showcase everything when more impact would be created by paring things down,” says Gray. “This might mean almost entirely blocking out a window, leaving just a small area for a dramatic display.”
The ability to change a store quickly makes it seem fresh. While windows are relatively easy to change seasonally or for specific buying themes, there is a way to constantly change the inside of a store without calling in the shopfitters every few weeks.
Giddings Design worked on the fresh design of Hatton Garden retailer Nicholas James, which uses magnetic wall graphics. The effect is overwhelming and owner Nick Fitch can change the graphics himself and has in the past used his own photography to create graphics, cutting costs significantly.
“There have been tremendous advances in printing and graphics; nearly anything can be inexpensively replicated and printed large scale, and magnetic-based backdrops allow for total simplicity of change,” says Giddings.
While advances in technology open up new design possibilities for retailers, there is one fundamental design feature that has been tripping jewellers up for decades: lighting.
“One perennial mistake is to under light the sales area,” says Giddings. “This should be as bright, or brighter, than the ambient illumination in the window, but not glaring.”
There is a vast range of lighting options available and getting it right is crucial. If a customer can’t see the sparkle in a diamond they will fail to make the emotional connection and a sale could walk out the door because of a store design flaw.
While lighting is crucial to showcasing product, there are many other ways to create ambience.
“As high street retail vies with the online experience, theatre plays an increasingly important role,” says Gray. “The finer details of décor, materials, lighting, scent, point of sale, design and sound all culminate in creating a sensory extension of the retail brand.”
With so many aspects to store design, the mind can boggle, so unless you’re feeling particularly creative, call in the experts. But before you do, sit down with your team and work out a plan and list your likes and dislikes.
Look to other retailers for inspiration, and consider stores outside of the industry; by doing so you can really bring something fresh to the sector. Go forth and be creative.