When change rooms make customers feel bad, chances are they won’t feel good about making a purchase
From shoe stores to clothing meccas and more, most fashion-related retail spaces have their own version of the ‘change room’; the place you go to quietly try on new staples or the latest trends.
And yet, the vast majority of change rooms aren’t designed with the customer experience in mind; poor lighting, cramped spaces, uncomfortable waiting areas, poor customer service touchpoints…all of this leads to a poor shopping experience for customers and fewer purchases for the retailer.
Why not create spaces where customers can feel good about themselves and their purchases? Let’s dive deeper into this topic and explore what you can do today to improve your change room game.
Why the change room experience matters for you and your customers
What if we told you that customers who use change rooms are seven times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t? And, further, that customers who receive helpful service in fitting rooms are three times as likely to buy products from that store?
When it comes to the change room, it’s often one of the most overlooked aspects of the shopping experience. And that’s surprising, given the change room is literally the place where customers are trying clothes on, seeing what fits, having to do it all while in a public setting, and maybe even judging themselves and how they look in your change rooms. Poor lighting, unorganized layouts, cramped rooms, awkward mirror placement and where change rooms are situated within a store all contribute to alienating customers from making purchases.
In other words, when change rooms make customers feel bad, chances are they won’t feel good about making a purchase. If retailers want to drive sales and keep customers coming back to their store, focusing on creating a positive change room experience can help you bring them back.
How change room fatigue impacts your business
If you’ve ever shopped at a store and have gone to try on clothes, only to find the change room situation is less than ideal, you’ve probably put your items down and walked away. This happens all too often for retailers, resulting in change room fatigue – the state where customers feel drained by the experience or frustrated enough with change rooms in general, that they avoid them at all costs.
But change room fatigue is caused by more than just customer dissatisfaction. Think of the long wait lines for fitting rooms; the lack of customer service in the change room area; the lack of in-room mirrors; having to redress to look for new sizes or different items, just to name a few. It’s understandable that customers get sick and tired of those experiences.
And, when it comes to customer service, you could be missing out on crucial opportunities to both upsell customers and ensure they have what they need. If your store only has one staff member for a change room or a team member who doesn’t know the product, the customer is being set up for failure the moment they step into your store. Not to mention, a lack of customer service could also put your products at risk, because unattended change rooms make for easy targets for theft.
It’s also important to keep in mind that where your change rooms are situated can cause fatigue. Smart retail design factors in how the change room is positioned along the customer’s path to purchase and takes into account how those rooms could act as a barrier to following through with a purchase.
If your change rooms are located all the way in the back of your department store, for example, it’s unlikely that employees will regularly check on customers there or walk around the entire store to bring customers more clothing options, different sizes, etc. Customers will grow tired of waiting for assistance, and likely won’t return to your store after a negative experience.
What you can do to improve the change room experience
To immerse customers in your retail space and provide them with a change room experience that keeps them in-store, consider improving that experience with the following tips.
Clean up your change room area – Remove any excess stock and product display items from your change room area to ensure there’s enough room for foot traffic in and out of your change room. Keeping your change rooms clean and free of clutter is also more aesthetically pleasing for customers.
Change your lighting – Avoid using fluorescent lighting, especially when it’s overhead lighting because this can cast unflattering shadows
Use mirrors effectively – Instead of housing mirrors just outside of the change room, add them to individual change rooms themselves; some customers aren’t comfortable trying on clothing in front of other customers, and don’t want to stand in front of a mirror with 5 or 10 other customers trying items on!
Dedicate salespeople to change rooms – Give customers the assistance and consistent touchpoints they need in order to feel comfortable by ensuring you staff your change rooms; not just one random staff member, but a few that are dedicated specifically to overseeing the change room and providing customer service there.
Consider offering more than one change room area – Rather than relegating change rooms to just one part of your store, consider offering an additional change room area, especially near the checkout point in your store, to give customers more incentive to try items on. If they don’t have to wait in line for long periods of time, they may feel more inclined to spend more time in your change room.
Go digital – If you want to make things more convenient for your customers, try going digital in your change rooms. In 2015, Zara tested using iPads in their change rooms so that customers could quickly request different sizes or options when trying clothes on. American Eagle did something similar by using the tech in their change rooms to allow customers to not only request new items but check production info, calculate the cost, look at inventory availability and more.
How Reformation turned the change room concept on its head
Reformation, a sustainable fashion brand, experienced the same struggles with their change room experience as countless other retailers. And the impact it had on customer service, satisfaction and retention was palpable. But after studying closely what non-fashion retailers like Apple and Tesla did for in-store customer experience, Reformation knew they had to get iterative.
So, in 2017 the retailer chose to revamp its change rooms in one of its flagship locations by using tech throughout their retail space that customers could use to choose outfits and items they want to try on; while shopping, sales associates would have those items ready in the change room before the customer even got to that part of the store, which made the shopping experience convenient and fun for the customer.
The retailer also made the change rooms more try-on friendly, meaning they chose to make each room larger while incorporating plush furniture and flattering lighting. Knowledgeable staff members were placed near and inside the change room area so they could provide product recommendations or bring customers different sizes, acting as pseudo-personal shoppers for customers without shadowing or overwhelming them with product choices.
Like other retailers that revamp the change room experience, Reformation saw improvements in the way customers felt about their shopping experience and how they purchased. Since 2017, the brand has been testing this approach across other retail locations to scale its improved change room experience.
What other retailers can learn from brands like Reformation is the upside of consistently improving upon the experience you offer customers, especially when it comes to personal purchases like clothing and intimates. Without a positive change room experience, fashion retailers quickly encourage customers to walk out without a purchase and never return.
IS YOUR RETAIL ENVIRONMENT DESIGNED TO OPTIMIZE YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
Whether it’s your change rooms, store layout, checkout area or product displays and shelving, the way you optimize the design of your retail space can make or break your customer experience, and no retailer wants to risk alienating shoppers. At CBSF, we understand the crucial role that retail design plays in the success of your business and the impact it can have on your customers. So, if you’re ready to optimize your existing store or design your next location with experience in mind, contact our expert team today and discover how we can help you level up your retail space.