Is there a job title for “Fitting Room Designer”? Does someone actually put one ounce of forethought into this inconspicuous closet, often confused with the adjacent stockroom? Flickering overhead fluorescents highlight every flaw as you bang your elbows on its flimsy walls while trying to shimmy into clothes that probably don’t fit anyway. But this maligned room, an afterthought on most retail floors, is where Ms. Jones makes her purchase decision.
“The fitting room of the future will be about trying it out, not just trying it on,” said Ken Nisch, chairman of retail consulting firm JGA. Outdoor and performance apparel retailer The North Face is tinkering with fitting rooms set to a chilling 30 degrees and slippery, rocky ramps for testing shoes, or you can stand in a puddle to check the waterproofing on Timberland boots. The National Retail Federation has even displayed an interactive mirror that streams video to a mobile device so your friends can pipe in about your pin-striped suit.
Ms. Jones wants to test out your product, in the “fitting room” of your sales floor or in her living room. One retailer installed a sleep room where customers can try out a mattress for two or three hours at a time, complete with fluffy robes and a flat-screen TV. Another has a 5-day, no-questions-asked money back return policy on all purchases—even special orders. (Their return rate is lower than the industry average, in case you were wondering.) Do you provide swatches and product samples, or let Ms. Jones take home a pillow or two? Do you provide printed tear sheets or do you email pictures of her favorite designs?
We were once alerted to a salesperson snoring soundly in our mattress area. Unlike this former employee who got just a little too much product knowledge, how can you help Ms. Jones make sure your product is a good fit for her home?