Dress Up Your Fitting Room and you'll help your apparel sales, too!
Many retail designers, consumer behavior experts, and customers believe that the fitting room has far more power to influence a consumer’s decision to buy than retailers believe.
“More sales get lost in the dressing room than on the sales floor,” says retail consultant Paco Underhill, whose company Envirosell in New York studies shoppers’ habits.
For women especially, a fitting room is part of the shopping experience. With more money being spent on high-end tenniswear — and with clothing that, despite being tagged with the same “size” designation, fits differently from one manufacturer to the next — consumers increasingly are demanding to try on their choices.
If you have a fitting room in your shop, its condition can easily make the difference between customer indifference and enthusiastic purchases.
James Adams of Fifth Floor, a leading retail design firm in Bellevue, Washington, draws an analogy to food ordered in a restaurant. “The same meal served in a poorly lit atmosphere sporting poor presentation will not seem as good to a customer as food served in an atmosphere of good lighting and presentation,” Adams says. “In the latter, the same meal will ‘taste’ better.”
This is true of the fitting room, which Adams defines as the “second most important part of the store,” behind the retail floor itself.
“The sale is made in the dressing room, where the promise should come to life,” says Adams. “A properly outfitted dressing room connects the customer to the store, where they then feel a strong connection to the store and the brand.”
Though floor space sometimes limits the size of the dressing room, the box at right offers some tips to help you ensure that your dressing area is doing all it can to help, not hinder, your apparel sales.
Without spending an arm and a leg, a properly appointed fitting room can be just as inviting as an attractive merchandise display. By following some simple guidelines, your fitting room can help to make consumers shop more, and ultimately, to buy more.
- Keep it clean.
- This means no ripped-off clothing tags laying around on the floor or on chairs, no “dust bunnies” or lint in the corners, no dirt dragged in from outside on the floors, no empty hangers on the hooks, and a space that’s free of previously tried-on garments. Have your staff check — and clean — the space regularly, maybe even several times a day. Not only do you want the dressing areas clean for shoppers, but you don’t want your new clothes actually getting dirty in the fitting room, then going back out onto the retail floor to possibly discourage other apparel shoppers.
- Keep it bright.
- Ensure that the room is well-lit. No one likes to go into a dark area to try on new clothes. Side lighting or wall sconces, rather than overhead lighting only, offer flattering light to apparel shoppers.
- Have a full-length mirror.
- An apparel shopper needs to see how the whole picture looks. Even better, if space allows, is a three-angle mirror, which would allow views of the sides and back of a garment.
- Make it convenient.
- Make sure there are hooks and/or a small bench for clothing and personal effects. No matter how clean the floor is, people don’t like to leave their clothing and other personal items there.
- Make it private.
- There should be either a door or curtain that closes securely and completely. Placing the dressing area in a part of the shop that does not have a lot of people milling around outside it may be helpful, too.
See all articles by Cynthia Sherman
About the Author
Cynthia Sherman is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.