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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bathroom Blogfest '08: Dressing Rooms

miley cyrus dressing room originally uploaded by g.n.o32.
Next on my agenda for Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us: Dressing Rooms...

True, dressing rooms aren't bathrooms. But, they are often overlooked and dismally depressing [think Loemann's or even TJ Maxx]. Paco Underhill, in Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, equates bad changing rooms to "bathrooms without the plumbing" which are "design[ed]... with all the romance and glamour of changing stalls at public pools."

What a mistake! Dressing rooms, fitting rooms or changing rooms - according to Paco - "may be more important that the floor of the store." Think about it. A dressing room is where a customer tries ideas on for size; it's where she becomes involved with the product. She interacts with it and, as a result, engages fully in your store and in all that it has to offer. This process takes time. It usually means that your customer is serious and in full buying mode.

Paco even developed a formula after extensive observation: "shopper conversion rate increases by half where there is a staff-initiated contact, and it jumps by 100 percent when there is a staff-initiated contact and use of the dressing room."

Are you paying attention?

Now, perhaps dressing rooms are irrelevant to your category. Nonetheless, even if you are selling flooring, you need an area where your customer can try ideas on for size, where she can consider possibilities and accessorize her choices. It's the same concept as trying on clothes, and needs the same kind of careful attention...

Here for your consideration are examples of stores that fully understand how important dressing rooms are to the selling process. Visit them, observe what makes these changing rooms critical to the retail experience, watch how customers interact with them and also how sales associates facilitate the customer's buying process via the fitting room. Then, think how you might translate some or all of these considerations to your store.

My favorites:
+ Urban Outfitters
+ Anthropologie
+ Coldwater Creek - where a sales associate is assigned to the fitting rooms specifically to help shoppers find what's missing
+ Even Macy's has added banquette seating and TVs outside its changing rooms.

VMSD's August 2008 issue features an article titled Dressing Up the Dressing Room by Lauren Mang. It makes the point that "dressing rooms should be an experience." The print version includes photos of Love Culture in Los Angeles, Galeries Lafayette's Berlin store, G by Guess in Hollywood Hills, Geometry in Berlin, Te Casan, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

The article touches on the evolution of the fitting room experience into one that is about community. It states that "common areas in fitting rooms give shoppers a place to hang out with friends and interact with other shoppers." Have you noticed the increase in sofas and chairs with coffee tables loaded with fun reading materials outside changing rooms? [Think, too, about how social an Apple Store experience can be.]

As you consider the dressing room experience and how you might apply it to your store, here are ideas:
+ Can you create a comfortable nook or area with table and comfortable chairs?
+ Can you surround it with ideas? Color boards and vignettes and maybe even examples of other successful concepts or installations?
+ How friendly and engaging is the lighting?
+ Can you make the experience social?
+ Can you include other sensory elements?

If you have other ideas on how to incorporate the dressing room notion into the store experience, please do share them. This Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us is all about identifying and sharing best practices to improve all of the forgotten spaces affecting the customer experience.

Next: Luxury Bathrooms

These are the latest Bathroom Blogfest '08 updates from the BBC:
+ From Marianna What would momma say if she knew I was participating in "Bathroom Blogfest '08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us"?
+ From The Carpetology Blog Bathroom Blogfest '08 - How Hotels Inspire Me
+ From Shannon, great water saving tips in “Bathroom Blogfest ‘08 - Cleaning Up Forgotten Spaces Around Us”
+ From Stephanie Forgotten Spaces Day 2
+ From Claudia 3 American toilet things to hate

The Bathroom Blogfest Community [BBC] for Bathroom Blogfest ’08 consists of:

Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads
Katia Adams at Transcultural Marketing
Shannon Bilby at Floor Talk!
Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop
Jo Brown and the blogging team at Kohler Talk
Lisbeth Calandrino at Lisbeth Calandrino
Sara Cantor at The Curious Shopper
Becky Carroll at Customers Rock!
Katie Clark at Practical Katie
Iris Shreve Garrott at Circulating
Ann Handley at Annarchy
Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution
Elizabeth Hise and C.B. Whittemore at The Carpetology Blog
Maria Palma at Customers Are Always
Sandra Renshaw at Purple Wren
Kate Rutter at Adaptive Path
Claudia Schiepers at Life and its little pleasures
Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose
Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology
C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer

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