Investigating Image, Part 1
What you think your store's image is and what consumers
see may be at odds. In a four-part series beginning this month,
we'll look at what mystery shoppers see. We'll also show you
how to measure your own message
You're in your store every day, so it's a challenge to remain
objective about the message your design, merchandise and customer
service send. You may be dying to change those wood showcases
or be proud of your unique storefront. But do your customers
feel the same way?
There's only one way to know ask them. That's what
Professional Jeweler did to research the seminar "Do Customers
See What You Want Them To See When They Walk Into Your Store?"
at the PrimeTime Fall Marketplace & Conference in October.
We interviewed four jewelers about their decisions on store image
signs, colors, lighting, background noise, showcase layout
and service. Then we sent mystery shoppers to the stores and
compared their observations with the jewelers'.
In this four-part series, we revisit the findings. Throughout
the series, we'll reprint questions and findings from the project.
Use these to conduct similar experiments in your own store.
Education & Design: Jack Seibert
Jack Seibert Goldsmith & Jeweler, located in an upper-middle-class
suburb of Columbus, OH, was the first store studied. In an interview
before Professional Jeweler visited the store, owner Jack Seibert
explained he doesn't want to be all things to all people: he's
a goldsmith and a designer and doesn't carry other designers'
brands or watches. He considers himself a destination location
and uses his store design to communicate integrity, quality workmanship,
understated elegance and the education of his staff.
Several years ago, he moved the store from an upscale mall
on a busy road to a freestanding office building next door. Seibert's
parking lot has brass signs designating spots for customers to
distinguish it from the mall, where parking is always a hassle.
The glass facade creates an open feel, while the buzzer system
makes customers feel safe. His hand-lettered logo, which he calls
"distinctive," is on deep red awnings on the storefront.
Inside, Seibert uses a state-of-the-art incandescent lighting
system and handcrafted cherry showcases to show off his creations.
He's proud of his jewelry design awards and his staff's education,
so he works them into his store design. He displays trophies
in the front window, hangs pictures of awards and gemology diplomas
in cherry frames on the wall and includes his American Gem Society
affiliation on all business cards and literature.
He says his customers like to get in and out quickly, so he
doesn't give them a place to sit, and he provides a well-educated
staff that's not on commission, so there's no pressure to buy.
Molly, the mystery shopper who visited Jack Seibert, lives
in a small town about 45 minutes away, travels frequently and
shops for jewelry a couple of times per year. In her late 30s,
married with no children, she likes interesting-looking jewelry
that's not too avant-garde and is demanding when it comes to
When Molly arrived, she found the building nondescript but
was impressed with the canopy and logo. She was most impressed
by use of the word "goldsmith" in the store name. It
communicated quality and made her think the store has good service.
Before entering, she got the impression the store offers merchandise
averaging $500-$1,000. Once inside, she decided it was a little
more expensive. Molly liked being buzzed in; it gave her a sense
of security just as Seibert thought.
The store seemed warm with just enough commotion to make it
friendly and not stuffy, and she said it was well lighted with
nice cases. Molly noticed the awards displayed on the walls and
in the windows, though she thought they should be placed beside
the winning pieces in the showcases.
Molly felt the products were well-organized, with a nice mix
of traditional and non-traditional. She always searches for a
particular designer when she's in a jewelry store and noticed
there are no brand names here. The lack of brand names didn't
disappoint her, but she noted there was a limited selection of
chains and accessories if she had bought a pendant and needed
a chain on which to wear it.
She was impressed by the customer service. The first thing
the salesperson did when Molly walked in was offer to clean her
engagement ring. The salesperson stayed with her but didn't intimidate
or pressure her, was knowledgeable and disclosed enhancements
readily as they discussed cultured pearls.
At the end of her trip, Molly emphasized the store's quality
and how different and interesting the merchandise is. "I
wouldn't go there to buy a simple gold bracelet," she said.
"But if I had a good gem I wanted to do something with,
I would take it to him in a heartbeat." This is exactly
the impression Jack Seibert wants to make. However, Molly felt
the store's design and marketing efforts should do more to emphasize
its owner's artistic talent and extraordinary jewelry.
Next month: Underwood Jewelers, Jacksonville, FL
by Stacey King & Robert Weldon, G.G.
||The mystery shopper at Jack Seibert was most
impressed by use of the word "goldsmith" in the store's
|A state-of-the-art incandescent lighting system
and handcrafted cherry showcases create "understated elegance,"
says the store owner.
Your Store Exterior
Professional Jeweler asked jewelers about their storefronts
before sending in mystery shoppers to gauge their impressions.
Here are some findings, along with related questions (in italics)
to ask yourself about your own store facade.
- Stores that consider themselves destinations more than walk-ins
worry less about the outside appearance and surroundings. But
some elements shouldn't be overlooked.
Do your parking lot and street feel safe after dark? If not,
how do you increase the feeling of security? Is there one interesting
thing about the storefront that catches the attention of established
and new customers?
- The merchandise in your windows sends a message. For instance,
a store that featured whole windows of glassware gave the shopper
the idea it focused on older people. Witty window designs in
another store gave a down-to-earth feeling.
Who is your ideal customer? How does the design of your windows
and the merchandise inside speak to that customer?
- Location spoke volumes to our mystery shoppers, especially
before they entered the jewelry stores.
What message does your neighborhood send about your store?
If the message of the store and its surroundings conflict, what
marketing efforts have you undertaken to secure your image?
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.