Professional Jeweler Archive: Investigating Image, Part 2

February 2000


Investigating Image, Part 2

Compare your perception of your store’s image with what consumers see. In the second installment of this four-part series, a mystery shopper sizes up store windows and customer service

Even if you’ve been in business long enough to enjoy a solid reputation in your community and understand your average customer, you can’t neglect your image. The way your store looks, feels and sounds has a great deal to do with whether your regular customers feel comfortable and continue to buy from you.

In the seminar “Do Customers See What You Want Them to See?” at the PrimeTime Fall Marketplace & Conference in October, Professional Jeweler writers Stacey King and Robert Weldon compared how jewelers and customers viewed stores. They asked jewelers about the messages they thought their store designs sent. Then they asked mystery shoppers for their impressions of the same stores.

This month, we look at what happened when a mystery shopper visited Underwood Jewelers in Jacksonville, FL.

Natural Touch

Underwood Jewelers is in the upscale San Marco shopping district along the riverfront in Jacksonville. Because the store shares its building with another tenant, the owners don’t have much control over the exterior. President Clayton Bromberg told Professional Jeweler he uses shadowboxes to display crystal in the full-front store window for daytime glitter and lights the window at night. This makes Underwood one of the most impressive-looking buildings in town, Bromberg said. The glowing windows coupled with Underwood’s reputation attracts shoppers from the evening restaurant and theater crowds.

Bromberg said the store exudes a feeling of low-key warmth. His salespeople try to blend into the background and help when needed so customers feel at home and unpressured. Armed guards add a feeling of safety. Bromberg uses warm colors for walls and display cases and relies on mirrors, glass and natural light at the front of the store. He uses halogen lights to make his fine jewelry look good, but he doesn’t use “mood lighting” or highlights. Bromberg said he doesn’t play music because it would be distracting, especially with sound that comes in off the street.

The store changes its front case frequently to attract attention. A sequential order to the cases moves customers to the back of the store, where the Rolex department is an attraction itself. Bromberg’s diamond department is out of the way to give customers privacy. The signs he uses coincide with the store’s ad campaigns or promote designers.

The Hard Sell

Our mystery shopper, Victoria, lives in the Jacksonville area. She knew San Marco was a posh shopping neighborhood and noticed Underwood Jewelers frequently because it is so bright at night. From the store’s exterior, she assumed it is upscale, because of its surroundings more than the building. She thought the building seemed old-fashioned from a distance. But as she moved closer, the glass and windows made her forget about the rest of the building. The emphasis on crystal in the windows conveyed to her the store caters to customers over age 35 – she thinks younger people probably don’t shop much for crystal.

The store’s interior seems glamorous, but tasteful and comfortable, Victoria said. The guard inside made her feel Underwood means business when it comes to safety. Victoria said the jewelry is nicely organized in categories and, though she usually shops for watches in jewelry stores, the attractive, colorful jewelry caught her interest during this visit. Once she wandered from the front windows, however, she said some of the cases were too dark.

The most interesting discrepancy between Underwood’s strategy and Victoria’s experience is the store’s customer-service policy. The salespeople are professional, courteous and enthusiastic, she said. However, while Bromberg instructs his salespeople to “blend into the background,” Victoria said she was asked several times if she was OK or needed anything. She wasn’t pressured to buy, but she said the salespeople were “very anxious” to find out what she wanted. It didn’t change her comfort level in any way, but the salespeople were a more prominent part of the sales experience than Bromberg perceived. Victoria said that because telephones were located in the middle of the store, she sometimes found herself more interested in the sales associates’ phone conversations than the jewelry.

The Results

Overall, Victoria felt comfortable in the store and found it quite upscale. As a local resident, she knew the store’s reputation in the community for being fair – she was confident she wouldn’t get “ripped off” when she went there. For a jewelry store that’s a destination location based on reputation, Underwood was successful in emphasizing and tying in its image with that reputation.

– by Stacey King & Robert Weldon, G.G.

Crystal in the windows conveyed to the mystery shopper that Underwood Jewelers was aiming for an older clientele.
Though the mystery shopper found the building nondescript, she said the windows and the neighborhood surrounding Underwood Jewelers communicate an upscale atmosphere.
Inside the store, Underwood uses natural light and warm colors to
create low-key comfort.

All photos by Robert Weldon

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications