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How Independent Jewelers Can Build a Strong Brand in a High-Tech World

Here are five ways to build a powerful brand while utilizing the latest tech in visual merchandising.

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RESPONDING TO THE pressures and opportunities of technology is a challenge for any jewelry retailer. Here are insights for using brand and visual merchandising to get the high tech and traditional balance right.

The James Allen retail store knocks down threshold barriers and invites exploration. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JAMES ALLEN.

1. Start with the brand experience. How we shop and communicate is changing, but human nature remains the same. Traditional branding and visual merchandising still work in jewelry retailing. The latest tech trend can be just a distraction if you haven’t got the basics right.

2. Understand your story and your shopper’s journey before thinking about technology. Appeal to the senses, delighting shoppers through texture, color, lighting, sound, even scent. Focus on creating a mood and setting a scene to make an emotional connection with impact, with or without technology.

3. Use new props and displays to freshen up your shopping experience. Innovation is at work in areas like signage, props, forms, and fixtures. Here are a few low tech ideas with modern appeal:

  • Sparkling 3-foot-wide lips bring fashion, fun and smiles to a store.
  • Floating stone shapes hanging like clouds juxtapose lightness with weight to showcase jewelry with drama.
  • Multi-handed sprays of arms present bracelets, watches and rings in a way that is far beyond the staid vitrine.

Photos provided by windowfrance.com

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Photos provided by windowfrance.com

Photos provided by windowfrance.com

Photos provided by windowfrance.com

4. Remember that physical retail will never go away. Online retailers are turning to physical stores because online-only is relationship- and experience-limiting. Retailers from Amazon to James Allen are opening actual retail doors.

JamesAllen.com, an online diamond retailer, recently opened a store in Washington, DC. It is a physical manifestation of the online brand. Intimidating aspects of the traditional jewelry store are gone. Here is a welcoming, comfortable environment that invites exploration. Video images of jewelry greet shoppers as they engage with 3-D CAM/CAD design, virtual inventory and visualization tools. They can touch, feel and try on cubic zirconia ring models free of locked cases. The store is a test bed for virtual reality, consumer co-creation, shopping gamification, and product customization.

View from back to front of store-communal cases. PHOTO PROVIDED BY JAMES ALLEN

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In-store technology goes beyond experience. By capturing shopper behavioral data, we can understand how customers interact and adjust stores accordingly.

Photo provided by James Allen.

5. Make sure your store stands out in a blurred, borderless retail landscape. The customer experience isn’t confined to a specific channel. A clear brand delivered with continuity across the physical, online, mobile and virtual is what wins. Don’t ask “what technology?” Begin with the brand, the customer journey and the experience. Regardless of technology, jewelry retailers that deliver continuity, clarity and relevance across channels will have an indelible and profitable impact.

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 [email protected]

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Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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