Anu­raag S


The renowned epis­te­mol­o­gist, Nas­sim Ni­cholas Taleb, in his book the Black Swan de­fines a black swan as a largeim­pact, hard-to-pre­dict, and rare event be­yond the realm of nor­mal ex­pec­ta­tions. Taleb tells the story of au­thor Yev­ge­nia Niko­layevna Kras­nova and her book A Story of Re­cur­sion. She pub­lished her book on the web and it was dis­cov­ered by a small pub­lish­ing com­pany; they pub­lished her work unedited and the book be­came an in­ter­na­tional best­seller. The small pub­lish­ing firm be­came a big cor­po­ra­tion, and Yev­ge­nia be­came fa­mous. We, for one be­lieve that re­tail is a black swan in the job starved In­dian econ­omy, and within re­tail, Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing will be the black swan. The im­pact of a re­tail store which un­der­stands and lever­ages its vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing well will dif­fer­en­ti­ate the lead­ers from the ‘also-rans’. Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing is the id­iom of smart re­tail­ers. Like hu­mans use lan­guages to com­mu­ni­cate, re­tail­ers use vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing tech­niques to com­mu­ni­cate with cus­tomers. The com­par­i­son to lan­guages doesn't stop there. Like lan­guages have their own gram­mar & logic of ob­ject, verb and sub­ject, vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing has its own rules and guid­ing prin­ci­ples. Within these set of rules you can still use cre­ativ­ity to write po­etry, us­ing the same lan­guage a vis­ual mer­chan­diser too can use his cre­ativ­ity to cre­ate vis­ual ef­fects in the store to com­mu­ni­cate in­no­va­tively with the cus­tomer. To my sur­prise, it’s been al­most 12 years in this pro­fes­sion, but I’ve hardly come across any good book or even ar­ti­cle on Jew­ellery Dis­plays. Years ago, the Jew­ellery in­dus­try used to use jewel tone col­ors in silk, as a back­drop to dis­play jew­elry. The dark tones tend to show off the jew­elry. Also, the rough tex­ture of silk is a good con­trast to the smooth tex­ture usu­ally found in the shiny smooth­ness of the jew­elry. Then "mar­ket re­search" showed that fe­male shop­pers like the pale and pas­tel col­ors for the back­drop of jew­elry dis­plays. Some­times the dark col­ors were found to be in­tim­i­dat­ing, or some­times the jewel tone colored silk could be con­sid­ered gar­ish, if it was slightly off in tone. The pale neu­tral col­ors give the im­pres­sion that the jew­elry is ex­pen­sive, but still de­light­fully ap­proach­able. So neu­tral col­ors be­came the jew­elry dis­play norm and a Cham­pagne color seems to show off both gold and sil­ver well. These days blocks, ris­ers, etc are usu­ally made from some sort of fake suede. But many jewel­ers still pre­fer the rough tex­ture of a silk or linen. If it is cos­tume jew­elry; mass­ing it all out is a ben­e­fit and a chal­lenge. The ben­e­fit is that the larger amounts of sil­ver against the back­drop will show up bet­ter. The chal­lenge is how to con­tain it. If it is on a show­case plac­ing like items to­gether in pat­terns and group­ing will work, us­ing ris­ers to give def­i­ni­tion to the cat­e­gories or themes. If it is on a wall or counter top most big chains use counter top chrome fix­tures. If your store has a cer­tain theme, or im­age iden­tity, you can use col­ors and ma­te­ri­als that will fit in with your look.

Chrome is the worst for show­ing off sil­ver jew­elry. Many people use it be­cause fix­tures or com­po­nents are eas­ily avail­able, and in stock. Re­fer the fash­ion jew­elry snap be­low; so well color co-or­di­nated. For some, so much of jew­elry stocks works on their walls and looks great too. It purely de­pends on the buy­ing strat­egy of the mer­chan­dis­ers. But then look at J Crew, you will see won­der­ful neu­tral tex­tures show­ing off a few beau­ti­ful pieces of jew­elry. Also, as men­tioned by Jeanne Hol­brook, Store Plan­ning De­signer at Lee­gin, Spin­ners are the evil of the jew­elry busi­ness. They are ugly. They also sell tons and tons of jew­elry. It is pos­si­ble to de­sign a beau­ti­ful spinner but it gen­er­ally turns out to be very ex­pen­sive thus In­dian re­tail­ers end up buy­ing what­ever spinner is avail­able to stock up the max­i­mum num­ber of SKU’s. A lot of Spin­ners are made of hard sur­faces (chrome, acrylic, or lam­i­nate). That is the worst way to show off jew­elry. It is pos­si­ble to have back pan­els that are a dif­fer­ent tex­ture, but it is all about work­ing with your store's iden­tity, im­age and budget. Also, you can place jew­elry on all kinds of things as part of a dis­play theme or sales pro­mo­tion. In many bou­tiques, Jew­elry is of­ten dis­played on nat­u­ral el­e­ments. So there are many things you can "dis­play" jew­elry on. Tif­fany's new collection used Co­ral and colored glass vases. More­over, one also has to con­sider the cul­ture of your vicin­ity or lo­ca­tion and what kind of Jew­ellery you want to present to your ‘which’ kind of cus­tomer. Do­ing the un­ex­pected can grab on look­ers, more foot­falls means bet­ter sales! How­ever, light­ing plays a vi­tal role in Jew­ellery dis­plays. In one of her book on light­ing, Janet Turner* says, ‘the cor­rect source of light­ing is es­sen­tial for good color ren­di­tion, and this can be made more ef­fec­tive by us­ing a

com­bi­na­tion of light source: metal halide for cool­ness, and tung­sten for warmth.’ The choice of fit­ting should never be based solely on its out­ward ap­pear­ance: in many cases, the type of lamp and re­flec­tor will be more im­por­tant to the ef­fect of the light. Pro­fes­sion­als think the first con­sid­er­a­tion of dis­play light­ing is color tem­per­a­ture. Not many agree though. Color tem­per­a­ture is im­por­tant to pho­tog­ra­phy, but is a sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tion to Jew­ellery dis­plays. It is ad­vised to al­ways use sev­eral small point sources of light which will sparkle and come to life. This is be­cause each point source will cre­ate a re­flec­tion. The more points of light, the more sparkles. Of course there is a prac­ti­cal limit, too many point sources will start to merge and have the re­verse ef­fect. Color tem­per­a­ture of 3000°K is too warm. But 4500°-5000°K is op­ti­mal as it ap­proaches day­light il­lu­mi­na­tion at its best. Any­thing higher may look gold green­ish, and any­thing lower won't ren­der blues, pur­ples, etc. If you are us­ing LED, 5000°K is best for Jew­ellery dis­plays.** In mod­ern re­tail, where em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity is crit­i­cal for prof­itabil­ity of a busi­ness, vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing is the most ef­fec­tive way to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity. A great vis­ual mer­chan­diser us­ing lots of color, sig­nage’s, vis­ual breaks cre­ates oa­sis of mer­chan­dise to at­tract cus­tomers, hold their at­ten­tion to spe­cific mer­chan­dise, throw crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion at them and aid the process of sell­ing. Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing is the key func­tion and a re­tailer in­volves this func­tion from the start of store de­sign, to ex­e­cu­tion and con­tin­u­ous in­no­va­tion in the store. With mod­ern re­tail ready to ex­plode in re­tail, we see tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for the cre­ation of a new set of young, en­er­getic & most im­por­tantly cre­ative bunch of people proudly call­ing them­selves ‘Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ers’.

Acrylic Ris­ers & blocks; There are many ven­dors in mar­kets like Karol Bagh, New Delhi etc that are will­ing to ex­plore new ma­te­ri­als like leather (with em­bossed logo, etc).

Anu­raag S Vis­ual Mer­chan­diser Allen Solly, Madura Fash­ion and Life­style

Left: Fash­ion Ac­ces­sories Dis­play-Colored blocked; Right: J Crew Jew­ellery Dis­play in neu­tral/nat­u­ral tex­tures

Tif­fany Co. Jew­ellery dis­play on Corals

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