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6 Trends in Display and Packaging from JCK Las Vegas

You have many options for conveying a brand and creating an experience.

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IF YOU ARE SEARCHING for displays and packaging that go beyond the functional, the marketplace this year is brimming with new ideas. The unexpected, outstanding, delightful, beautiful and clever filled the JCK Las Vegas expo. From the immediacy of attention-getting to the lasting impact of memorability, jewelry marketers and retailers have options for conveying a brand and creating an experience.

Here are the key trends to watch among display and packaging exhibitors:

Color is Colorful

Mixed color gems, enamels and metals are a major jewelry trend — an idea that is carrying through to displays and packaging. Rich velvets have made a comeback on displays and boxes. Under newer LED lighting, darker shades of navy and slate gray help gold and colored gems pop. The soft neutrals that have dominated the industry continue to be strong with added textures and subtle gradated tones, moirés and ombrés instilling a sophisticated sense of luxury.

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The Showcase as a Show

Compelling open space and custom lighting of clean, modern wood frames around recessed blocks of color is how Adria Lanham, the design director at Bufkor, used windows to highlight packaging and displays. The simplicity reflects a refreshed philosophy and design approach with just enough style to set the stage. Box Brokers Group showed a wide variety of design techniques, materials and production capabilities. What struck me was the detail of a ring slot wrapped in color-coordinated bengaline — subtly set into suede and leather trays. What appeared as an aesthetic use of contrasting materials served a much greater function. Bengaline is a material that resists ink-stains that result from price tags inserted into the slot and pen marks. Wood laminated surfaces contrasted with satin-finished steel frames and conveyed modernity that reflected trends in home furnishings at Alfa Box. They also set off the drama of clean tall window neck forms, in suede done in natural tans and creams.

Bufkor 2019 JCK booth

Box Brokers Group 2019 JCK booth

Alpha Box 2019 JCK booth

Alpha Box 2019 JCK booth

System of Touch and Touches

Shoppers who touch products are more likely to buy them — 40% to 60% more likely — and they are willing to pay more, according to “The Power of Touch,” a study of consumer buying behavior. For displays, it means finding ways to bring consumers through the glass. The use of colors, textures, risers, props and other “touches” creates focal points and draws attention along the customer’s journey. Thinking of the shopping experience as a designed and branded system that goes from overall store ambiance to displays, to in-case details and top of counter pads is a way to create a deliberate and cohesive experience that moves the jewelry closer to the customer, culminating in interaction that can make the sale.

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Small Is Big

Wedding rings continue to drive profits for many in the jewelry business.

The box it comes in is an important part of the proposal and wedding experience. Elegant and small is a major trend. The Jewelers Box, based in London, makes bespoke ring boxes with small leather coffrets like the Italian one in which my dad kept his cufflinks. Naturally dyed leathers in luxe colors are embossed for a rich artisanal package experience in both stock and custom options. Of all the boxes at the show, the company had the tiniest and most precious. At Gunther Mele, a darling box dubbed “The Sweet Heart Box,” is done in vintage velvets of amethyst, berry, blush and teal, hinged for those popping the question. As CEO Darrell King explained to me, it “speaks to romance and heirloom.”

Ring boxes from The Jewelers Box

Ring boxes from The Jewelers Box

Ring boxes from Gunther Mele

Ring boxes from Gunther Mele

Useful Interactivity

Tech is a much talked about trend and has been for years, however, this year’s show focused on technology that is actually useful for retailers. An example is Gunther Mele’s display app that helps you create layouts for your showcases, allowing you to interactively swap out counter pads, risers and other elements — calculating costs as you go. You can also create a box or design a bag. All of it is easy, changeable and quick, with stress-free ordering.

Flexible and Dynamic: Alex Velvet has long been a first stop for retailers in search of new ideas in displays and packaging. Owner, Koko Alexanian showed how newness can be subtle and compelling with sculptural shapes, neck-forms, and fresh metallic fabric finishes. Koko also shared clever ways of instantly creating completely different looks by flipping around window panels in an array of dynamic colors and subtle natural tones and textures.

Capturing attention and creating lasting impact are how jewelry brands and retailers win in the marketplace. Exhibitors at JCK Las Vegas truly delivered this year with inspiring new ideas at every price point.

ALEX VELVET GALLERY (5 Images)

Pam Levine, president of Levine Luxury Branding, is an expert at harnessing the senses and the emotionally complex — often silent — drivers of purchase decisions in stores and online. Contact her at Pam@levineluxurybranding.com

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Where Did All My Profits Go??

Understanding cash flow vs. profit can affect how you manage your business.

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A COMMON COMPLAINT FROM retailers after the CPA has completed the end of year financials is, “Where is the money?” Often, they have reported a healthy profit (which also leads to a bigger tax liability to the IRS), yet their bank account never seems to reflect the profit the business makes.

It’s a common issue. Most store owners expect their profit to show up in the bank account — and that’s perfectly understandable. After all, profit is meant to be what you have left after paying your operating costs and vendors. Yet, rarely does it align.

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The reality is that cash flow and profits are two different things. Cash flow reflects the ins and outs of your bank account over a period of time. Profit is about your income and the expenses that relate to that income. That means the expenses don’t necessarily line up with when you paid them.

One of the best examples of this is the inventory you buy. For instance, let’s say Bob’s business does $1 million in sales for the year. With a keystone markup, Bob makes a gross profit of $500,000 from his business. After expenses of $400,000, his net profit is $100,000.

The bank account tells a very different story. Although the cost of goods sold is $500,000, Bob didn’t necessarily spend that much on inventory for the year. If he spent $600,000 on inventory purchases, he would have increased his inventory holding by $100,000. However, he didn’t sell the extra inventory, and therefore, it doesn’t pay for itself, but it will still come out of his bank account!

Timing is another important factor in paying vendors, too. Whether you pay your vendors immediately or pay the amount six months later, this will affect your bank balance, but it won’t affect your profit — the item is an expense when you sell it, not when you pay your vendor.

Your bank account can also be affected by assets that you buy. A new vehicle that is deemed a business asset may leave a hole in your bank account now if you pay cash, but as a business asset, its cost will be spread over several years to reflect when it is used. Your profit will look healthier than your bank account in this situation.

Of course, another factor to consider is personal spending. Withdrawing a good deal of money from your business account to support your lifestyle isn’t a business expense and won’t decrease your profit. It will, however, certainly lower the balance of your bank account.

It’s important to understand this difference between cash flow and profit so you don’t get caught spending money you don’t have.

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How to Create a Feeding Frenzy In Your Store

Limited-quantity special offers can do more than build short-term traffic.

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IMAGINE A VIRTUAL feeding frenzy of customers coming into your store to buy, right now.

Nice idea, right? But that’s not the sort of thing you can simply turn on or off like a faucet … or is it?

Actually you can, and it’s the perfect thing to create using email marketing and social media. The secret is to offer extremely attractive offers on extremely limited merchandise, and do it on a regular basis.

For example, maybe you offer an 18-inch strand of freshwater pearls with a regular price of $89 for just $27. Who wouldn’t want to buy that? Of course, many, many people would and will. But to get the feeding frenzy, you need one more element … urgency!

In this case, the urgency is manifested in the form of an extremely limited supply. “But I only have 17 of them, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!”

But why would you want to do this? I mean, let’s say you bought those pearls for $12 a strand. Well, selling 17 strands at a profit of just $15 a strand makes you a whopping $255. Hardly worth the trouble, right?

Well, consider this: When you do this regularly — at least once a month, and once a week is better — you can predictably expect the following:

  • You will virtually eliminate opt-outs from your email list. People will stay with you forever, not because they want or need any one thing or things, but they’ll be afraid of missing the one screamin’ deal they do. Research proves this to be true.
  • You’ll very likely see an increase in email opens.
  • You’re likely to see an increase in your social media engagements in the form of page likes, comments, etc.
  • You’ll finally be able to track social media responses directly to specific posts; no longer will you have to guess if your social media is working. You’ll know … and how well.
  • You’ll have customers walking in to buy. And that makes upselling and add-on selling much, much easier. If your sales team is well-trained, that li’l $27 sale turns into your average ticket or higher.
  • Perhaps most important, you’ll be training your customers on how to be your customers. You’ll be delivering the message that, in this relationship, they’re expected to buy from you.

Obviously, to make “feeding frenzy” marketing work, you need to buy right. Make it part of your trade show routine to visit the closeout booths to find such deals. Buy unusual numbers of the items you want to make your feeding frenzy offers (17 of these, 22 of those, 8 of another thing, 31 of something else).

It’s also important to keep the price points low. You can have something with a $200 value or more, but you’ll want to keep the “deal” price under $100, and under $50 is best. This has to remain an “impulse” buy that virtually any and every customer can appreciate.

And once you’ve mastered the art of the feeding frenzy offer, start making more compelling offers to your customers for those bigger items for bigger occasions. You’ll see your traffic, sales and profits skyrocket.

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David Geller

What You Can Learn About Turn from Clothing and Furniture Stores

Hint: Turn more, earn more.

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THERE ARE REALLY only three important numbers in a retail store: gross profit dollars, inventory on hand, and inventory turn. So who’s better at managing money among these three retailers?

Store                         Gross Profit %
Jewelry                      42.6%
Furniture                  45.0%
Clothing                    46.5%

Darn close, aren’t they? The grass isn’t so green on the other side after all. Or is it?

Let’s look at inventory turn, which means how many times a year an item sells. (These numbers are from stores doing “pretty well.”)

Store                            Turn            Days in the Store
Jewelry                   1.4                       260
Furniture               3.5                       104
Clothing                 4.3                       84

A clothing store won’t keep a shirt/suit/jacket/blouse in the store more than three to four months. They will heavily discount it at that point to get it out the door; they don’t just “squash” merchandise closer together to show more like jewelers do.

Furniture stores work the same way. They have a natural problem: available floor space. The biggest reason for high turn in a furniture store was told to me by a furniture store owner: “Where am I going to store an extra 100 mattresses?”

Clothing stores get rid of their merchandise every quarter. Furniture stores get rid of their inventory every four months, and a good jeweler turns their merchandise a little over once a year. But most jewelers I meet have had their total merchandise for two-and-a-half to four years! This causes terrible cash flow and piles of debt.

If you buy jewelry in January, it should sell at least once by Christmas; that would be a turn of 1.0. If it stays until after Christmas, discount it or give a spiff to the sales staff to unload it, or even return it to your vendor and exchange it.

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If it is still there in 18 months, scrap it. That’s what clothing and furniture stores do.

Let me show you the money-making power of turn. All three stores are going to buy an item for $200. For a jeweler, this might be earrings; for a clothing store, a nice jacket; and for a furniture store, it might be a chair. In the table below you can see the cost, profit margin in dollars, and what that brings in for total product dollars in a year.

Keeping an item long-term is a detriment. Even if someone buys it three years from now, you should have had that $207 in profit for each of the three years, totaling $621 brought into the store (not the measly $163.35 you would make by holding it three years).

When it’s over a year old, most things need to be disposed of and replaced. Maybe your customers just aren’t buying what you have in stock. Change that!

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