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Why You Need A Custom Visual Standards Manual

How and why to create a custom visual standards manual for your store.

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ONE OF THE BEST WAYS to guarantee that your employees maintain the look and feel of your stores is a custom visual standards manual, or CVSM. Such a manual explains how a store should look and how to keep it looking that way. A good manual allows room for change and it teaches the store employees how to access their creativity while staying within the boundaries of the store’s image and brand.

Visual standards include everything that can be seen as you drive or walk up to, into and through the store to the back door. The CVSM includes lighting, signage, flooring, all surface materials, fixtures, merchandising the fixtures, displays, focal areas, aisles, wrap desks, daily maintenance, safety standards, back room standards, washroom standards and office standards. Standards must be maintained in order to retain your image and feed your brand.

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Each person has his or her own style of creativity. Some of those creative endeavors may not exactly be in keeping with your image. A standards manual clarifies your image and gives clear direction and boundaries to the various styles and quality of individual creativity and expression.

If a chain of jewelry stores (of any size) has an image that requires presentation standards, or you are re-creating your image and want to retrain your employees, a manual is one of the first steps to making this transition happen consistently and successfully.

Here’s how you develop a CVSM.

1. Assign this job to one or two people who have a clear understanding of your merchandising, visual merchandising, fixtures, signage, store design direction and overall brand and image. If you choose two people, consider one in marketing and one in operations. Or, hire someone from the outside with CVSM and jewelry store experience.

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2. Develop an outline for the manual. Add a chapter for each area of your store. You’ll be describing the fixtures in each area and how to merchandise each one. Add chapters on non-selling spaces, lighting, signage and safety.

3. Take a ton of photos. Before and after shots of merchandise presentation and displays are especially valuable and great teaching tools.

4. Determine what final format will work best for your employees and stores: a loose-leaf book, a bound printed manual, a webinar in several parts, or a training movie. In each case, you may consider a quiz after each section to make sure your employees actually looked at the CVSM. Flexibility for changes is important, so plan for that in your format.

5. Have storewide or companywide meetings and introduce the manual either in a seminar or hand it out to each person. If it’s in digital format, give everyone the link and let them know when they will be quizzed on the book. That’s pretty much the only way they’ll look at it all the way through.

Rather than just stating rules, explain why the rule exists and why it’s necessary. It will be remembered much longer than if it’s just stated without any explanation. Pare down the information so it’s a good mix of photos and copy. People today are used to reading bullet points and listening to sound bites.

The ultimate purpose of producing a CVSM is to have a standard that all employees are required to live up to on a daily basis. If one store is falling down on sales, one of the most easily observable issues may be the visual presentation. Getting everyone “on the same page” will help keep the stores looking great.

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Linda Cahan, owner of Cahan & Company, is an internationally known retail design expert specializing in visual merchandising and store design. She also teaches at The Art Institute of Portland in Oregon. Contact her at linda@cahan.net

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Vegas Must-Haves #8: Long-and-Lean Earrings Are Everywhere

They’ve been popular at awards shows and on international catwalks.

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Heading out to Vegas for Jewelry Week? Here are some of the trends we are predicting you will see and that you might want to bring into your store. Some have been going strong for a few seasons, while others have been evolving for a couple of years. All are popular from the red carpet to the ready-to-wear runways to the jewelry design studios. So, why not try your luck with this trend or the others we will be showing?

From the red carpet to the runways to the design studios, all styles of earrings continue to be strong. One style that we saw at all the big awards shows this past season as well as on the international catwalks was the long and lean look. The earrings can range from sticks of diamonds to streamlined and linear with more movement, traced with enamel and/or popped with colored stones, and can go from mid-length to shoulder-skimming.

Lili Reinhardt in Swarovski earrings at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards Photo: Shutterstock

GiGi Ferranti Gia Deco 14K stick earrings with Zambian emeralds and diamonds. gigiferranti.com. $5,200

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EF Collection 14K gold diamond and enamel Stripe Bar Drop Earrings. efcollection.com. $650

Harwell Godfrey 18K gold articulated black and white diamond stick earrings in yellow gold, harwellgodfrey.com. $2,700.

Effy Pave Classica 14K White Gold Diamond Vertical Earrings, 0.35 TCW effyjewelry.com. $1,095.00

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Vegas Must-Haves #7: Attention-Grabbing Gold Chains That Mix New and Old

They’re being linked and looped together in creative ways.

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Heading out to Vegas for Jewelry Week? Here are some of the trends we are predicting you will see and that you might want to bring into your store. Some have been going strong for a few seasons, while others have been evolving for a couple of years. All are popular from the red carpet to the ready-to-wear runways to the jewelry design studios. So, why not try your luck with this trend or the others we will be showing?

Gold chains are back as a statement and a staple for your customer’s jewelry wardrobe.

I first started noticing the trend to weightier and gutsier chains in 2016, and they are being linked and looped together in creative ways. Many of the modern links take their cue from antique bold gold curb and paperclip watch chains and/or long vintage 70s large rectangular and oval links. Your clients can wear these alone or add charms and medallions. Foundrae is a perfect example of showing different lengths, styles and widths of chains and connector links to add their meaningful pendants. Add different charms or teach customers how to wear the longer versions doubled or creatively as lariats or elongated Y necklaces.

Tod’s Fall/Winter 2019/20 Runway Show

Jemma Wynne 18k gold Toujours emerald necklace with diamonds $15,750 jemmawynne.com

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Sylva & Cie 14K rose gold diamond oval link chain with champagne diamonds approximately .90 TCW sylvaandcie.com. 9,750.00

Foundrae 18K gold mixed oversized clip choker. foundrae.com. $14,995

Brent Neale 18K gold textured chain link necklace. brentneale.com $9,850.

Marla Aaron heavy sterling silver curb chain with baby 14K lock. marlaaron.com $682

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Editor's Note

This Year’s INSTORE Design Awards Winners Followed In a Stellar Tradition

With 25 categories, many designers had the chance to shine.

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EVERY YEAR, I’M consistently impressed by the ingenuity displayed by the jewelry designers who enter the INSTORE Design Awards. Two years ago, Hisano Shepherd of Little H made a splash with her fresh take on pearls, slicing them open and encrusting them with gemstones. Last year, Katey Brunini won three categories with three separate pieces from her intricate and colorful Eating Watermelon In The Black Forest collection, while TAP By Todd Pownell took two other categories with their striking, nature-inspired use of diamonds.

This year, with so many more categories (25, as opposed to eight last year), lots of designers made their mark. Adel Chefridi won two categories and a Retailer’s Choice award with his geometric matte designs. Thorsten placed with three different show-stopping wedding band designs. Manufacturers Gabriel & Co. and UNEEK Fine Jewelry each had multiple winners. The mesmerizing Sultana ring by Annamaria Cammilli Firenze cleaned up across several categories. Then there was our Grand Prize winning piece: the VIVAAN cuff (featured on our cover) with nearly 30 carats of natural fancy color diamonds that won over both our judges and online voters.

When you’re shopping the Las Vegas trade shows, start with the winners of this design competition. If they’re turning heads among our judges and online voters, they’re sure to turn the heads of your clients as well.

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • When displaying men’s jewelry, opt for timeless elements like antique fly-fishing reels, old toy cars or old sports items. (Ask Instore, p. 91)
  • Longer ad copy yields better results, as proven by Google. (Jim Ackerman, p. 90)
  • Always display in odd numbers; it’s more aesthetically pleasing. (Three Things I Know About, p. 94)
  • Ask questions that elicit a “yes” from the woman in order to close the male buyer. (Shane Decker, p. 92)
  • When retirement is in the near future, start maximizing net profit to build the value of your business. (David Brown, p. 94)
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