One reason I love writing about retailing for Small Business Trends is that I love shopping — and as a frequent shopper, I can attest that the state of retail fitting rooms is frequently flat-out dreadful.
For over a decade, one major retailer that I frequent has been in the news for its struggles to modernize and upscale its stores. I’ve watched with amusement as the quality of displays, clothing and decor improved … everywhere but in the fitting rooms. Faded carpet, dirty mirrors and plywood doors that barely stay shut welcome me there.
Even if your fitting rooms aren’t in quite that sad of a state, there is still a lot you could be doing to make them better when it comes to fitting room design for retail.
Your bigger competitors certainly are: Retail chains such as Macy’s and Nordstrom are experimenting with high-tech bells and whistles such as fitting rooms where customers can use smartphones and tablets to communicate with sales assistants, interactive mirrors that let shoppers scroll through product reviews and even virtual reality tools.
Don’t worry — you don’t have to get quite that high-tech to make your fitting room experience a more pleasant one.
The Basics of Fitting Room Design
Keep it Clean
No one wants to take off their clothes or shoes in a dirty environment. Just as you do with the rest of your store, make sure your fitting rooms are sparkling. Shine the mirrors, sweep the floors and clean the door handles at the end of each day. During business hours, have an employee check the fitting rooms hourly for cleanliness and to remove abandoned merchandise.
Install two mirrors or, better yet, a three-way mirror that folds out so customers can see the rear view. A three-way mirror in the main fitting area is only a partial solution because many customers feel shy about trotting out in public to use it.
Lock it Down
Door locks that actually lock will make your customers feel more relaxed when stripping down. While you’re at it, be sure you provide plenty of room to put down packages and hang up clothes.
Light it Up
No one looks good with fluorescent lights buzzing overhead. Install lighting fixtures that enhance customers’ appearance while still being bright enough to display the clothes properly. Pay attention to lighting in both the individual fitting rooms and the main area; otherwise, an item that looks great in the fitting room might look awful when the customer walks out to get a friend’s opinion.
Some retailers keep dressing rooms locked so customers have to ask to be let in. That can enable salespeople to provide more personalized assistance — boosting sales — but can also backfire. If customers can’t find an employee to let them in, they’ll leave in frustration. If using this approach, make sure you have someone stationed near the fitting rooms at all times.
Want to go above and beyond? Here are some extras you can add to make your customers’ fitting room experiences truly memorable.
Have a Seat
Impatient companions can rush shoppers out of the fitting rooms before they can make a decision. Provide comfortable ottomans or easy chairs in the main fitting room area so companions can relax (and customers have time to think).
The Pause that Refreshes
Snacks boost shoppers’ energy and keep them from leaving your store to refuel. Look for food and drink that minimizes the risk of spillage and stains, such as cookies, crackers and cheese, or nuts. Water with lemon or cucumber slices seems luxurious without the risk of stains.
Fitting rooms enhanced with wallpaper, plush carpet or wooden floors, decorative lighting such as wall sconces or chandeliers, and extra touches such as a vase of flowers in the sitting area all contribute to enhancing the experience.
You don’t have to go as far as virtual reality goggles, but something as simple as mounting tablets on the walls in dressing rooms to communicate with sales assistants can encourage customers to try on more — and spend more.
When it comes to your fitting room design, small changes really can make a big difference in your bottom line.
Fitting Rooms Photo via Shutterstock
As for me, I’m good as long as it is clean and has a mirror and a good lock. Assistance is a bonus. But I have not seen shops providing snacks. That would be interesting.
I cannot stand fitting rooms, primarily because I get so hot trying on clothes! Keep them cool and I’ll buy more. Consider ceiling fans that can be used at shopper discretion. I quit shopping and just go home once I start sweating.