“We think as much about the public as we do the works of art.” Ana Debenedetti – The Guardian, Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum
A Curated Space
One of the most powerful things you can do as a retailer is to think of your store as a curated space. A space that, no matter how big or small, honors the tastes, styles and needs of your ultimate customer. Space that creatively displays your business, merchandise, and brand, and highlights how you are different. A space that allows you to stand out from the crowd with how you service your clientele. The challenge of retailing is to ask the question, “who is my customer, what are they interested in, and how can I provide it better than any of my competitors?”, and then to answer that question with merchandise that surprises and delights them. When you do that, you will connect with your customers on a different level. Your store will just feel more personal, more special. By being a guide to show your customer all the design possibilities available to them in your space (and on our easy to use mobile or web app), you will give your customers reasons to return over and over again.
When you do this, you will become a “retail curator,” and this will separate you from the crowd.
Becoming a Curator
So. What is a curator and what do they do? A curator, whether it is in a museum or a retail space, listens carefully to their customer, and what the customer feels their jewelry/artistic needs and tastes are. A curator is open-minded, assisting customers to find special pieces that suit their tastes. Then, as you show them potential solutions to their quest they realize that they can’t get such personal assistance from anywhere else. It is all about who they are, their story, their experiences, their relationships, and their specific needs. As you listen carefully, and dig deep for the right solutions and choices, you will do more than help them discover that special piece . . . you will provide a memorable experience.
We tend to think of museums as being “about the art.” But in fact, most museum curators firmly believe that their job is based on the experience of the customer/audience. They do it through the art, but it’s about the visitors. This is even more true for a retail jeweler, who is selling rather than just displaying. It’s wearable art, in our case, and it’s all for the purpose of entertaining and enticing the customer. People want and need to wear pieces of art that reflect their own individual style and taste (and they have since the Stone Age!). They do this for themselves, and to express themselves to the outside world. Helping and guiding our customers to this end is the service, honor and privilege we get by working in this field.
Your Retail Store is a Gallery
Look at your store as you would a museum or art gallery. What pieces are you displaying? How are you displaying them to take advantage of their best qualities and designs? What experience do you want potential customers to have when they walk into your store? What is your story, and how can your story and your differentiator be told visually by your displays, store, signage, branding? And how can you and your staff make the customer’s experience even more special, memorable and personal by the way you greet and treat each individual customer?
Part of a retail curator’s job is to have a deep understanding of the merchandise, how it is created, its gemstones and metals, the processes that were used to create it, its place in jewelry history or current fashion, its price point and if the piece can be created or altered to fit the individual needs of the customer. The retail curator makes every encounter about the customer and the jewelry – and not just about closing a sale. You want your customers to leave with a personal story they can tell over and over, about the personally validating and fun experience they had, how you made them an integral part of a fun and helpful jewelry buying story. You want your customer to realize that you helped them find something they could not have found without you.
When your customer feels they have voiced their unique personal needs, and were part of an exciting process from the beginning to the end, you have done the work of a curator. And ultimately – that’s what you should be, and that’s what makes designer, statement, fashion, art and simple classic designed jewelry so special. Because in the end it is all about wearable art. It always has been and always will be.