What Makes a Good Fitting Room?

Apparel retailers think of them as necessary evils: Dressing Rooms.  Those space-wasting closets that are empty half the time and filled with crumpled clothing the rest of the time. Yet, customers who use a fitting room are 71% more likely to purchase than those who browse the floor — and will buy twice as much.  If they are given service and attention while in the fitting area, they will buy three times as much!

Retailers have added amenities like a lounge for friends and fellow shoppers, buttons to call for sales assistance and even lighting that adjusts or mirrors tilted to make the shopper appear longer (and thus, more flattering in all wardrobe styles.)  But for most people providing the basics of fitting rooms can make the torturous experience of trying on jeans or bathing suits just a little easier.

1. Signs – Make the fitting rooms easy to find while on the shopping floor.

2. Dumping grounds – Customers like a minimum of four dumping grounds: one for their own clothes and purse, one for the items to be tried on, one for the “no’s” and one for the “yeses.”    Benches work well for the first one while hooks and hanger bars work best for the last three.

3. Sanitation – Clean up the clothes from previous shoppers, the pins and other fasteners from previous shoppers, and Lord knows, any other icky stuff from past shoppers!

4. Friendly, caring assistance – This is much different from the associate who counts the items the shopper brings into the fitting room and hands a neon 3 on the door handle or the young person with the key to the fitting room who begrudgingly open the locked door.  We all know those are security guards – not sales associates.  We are talking about the person who brings a size 12 when we can’t wiggle into a size 10, who is happy to bring the gray sweater instead of the black one and the one who brings a matching belt, necklace or jacket to our attention when we say we like an item.  They convert many single item purchases into a full market basket.

What I see for most retailers is a missed opportunity to talk directly to a prospective customer.  When a customer is in a fitting room, a distraction from the invariably smudged walls and their own reflection would be welcomed.  What better place to inject your brand’s personality?  Why not add a chalk board with a fun question of the week?  (What 1970’s style do you wish would come back?) Tie-in to your latest facebook, foursquare or twitter campaign?  Add a loyalty program message, a reminder for an in-store event or some other non-price promotional message.

What else do you look for in a fitting room?  Who does it best?  And feel free to sound off about who does it poorly…

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