Retailing 139: Why Fitting Rooms Matter!
By Jay Townley
How can you increase sales of tennis apparel to women? By installing fittings rooms, or cleaning up and remodeling your existing fitting rooms. Then educating and training owners, managers and staff about how to integrate fitting rooms into your store’s sales process and conversion and close rates. Research shows that the more customers entering a fitting room means more customers leaving the store with a purchase.
The book tennis specialty retailers should get — and make required reading for managers and staff — is “Fit Happens: Analog Buying in a Digital Age,” by Marge Laney.
Total category sales is the metric most used by specialty retailers to measure and track the performance of their stores. In addition, some specialty shops also measure and track conversion, or the average ticket value of an individual transaction, and the number of items sold.
According to Laney, a recent study commissioned by Alert Tech11 revealed two fitting room variables that play a significant role in increasing all of these metrics: the percent of total store traffic that enters each fitting room, and the number of associate engagements initiated by the customer.
The research shows that if you and your staff focus on getting customers into the fitting room and engage with them while they are making their buying decisions, it will positively impact conversion and close rates and build loyalty and repeat business.
Clean and Neat
Women, and a growing number of men, have to try on apparel selections in order to make buying decisions. According to Laney: “They will do that in the least painful way possible, whether in-store or at home. Retailers should embrace this idea and make their fitting-room environments match their selling environments.”
A few years ago I was visiting a specialty retailer with a female colleague. The owner asked our opinion about what he should do to improve his store. Without hesitation my colleague said: “Your fitting rooms are downright scary and women won’t go in them. It’s no wonder you are complaining about your store’s inability to sell clothing to women.”
Treating fitting rooms as an integral part of your store’s environment adds continuity to the apparel-buying process and increases the likelihood the customer will feel comfortable in using your fitting room. The retailer we visited completely remodeled and modernized his store’s fitting rooms — and reported an immediate increase in apparel sales.
When shoppers make their buying decisions in the fitting room, it’s more profitable for the store and more efficient and enjoyable for the customers, which in turn builds customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
Also remember that you and your staff are the keys to making the fitting-room experience happen, so educating and training is important. Integrate your fitting room into your customer-service and sales process to connect with a shopper on the sales floor.
When you or your staff see someone holding apparel she’s considering, offer an invitation, such as, “May I check to see if the fitting room is available for you?” This engages the customer and encourages her to commit to the next step — trying-on the items.
Don’t think you have space for a fitting room? Well, I suggest you take a look at your your overall revenue, then calculate what an increase of 10 to 15 percent in clothing sales will mean to your bottom line. If the increase is interesting, or even compelling, start to plan a remodel of your store — no matter how small your square footage — to include a well-lighted, cheerful fitting room with a full-length mirror, a hanging rack for clothing and a chair.
Increasing your store’s revenue and profitability from the sales of clothing should be the focus of your fitting-room strategy.
This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).
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