Retail Design: Innovative Fitting Rooms
The fitting room’s capacity to convert initial engagement into cold hard sales is a considerable piece of any retailer’s arsenal – yet many brands are still neglecting these spaces. Fifty per cent of US consumers who use them go on to purchase three or more items, but 93% don’t enjoy the experience – citing discomfort, stress and lack of immediate assistance as three key reasons why (Indyme, 2015).
Here, we review some of the most notable new fitting-room design concepts boosting sales and motivating shoppers to extend their time in-store.
- Seamless & Private, Digitally Aided Service: Racks at US eco-friendly fashion brand Reformation’s new San Francisco flagship only hold one piece of clothing in each style, freeing up more space for fitting rooms. After browsing, shoppers use touchscreens to select which products to try on. Staff place them in a dressing-room closet with two openings – one employee-facing, the other facing into the fitting room. An in-room screen enables requests for additional sizes, colours and styles; staff restock the closet accordingly. The digitised system not only provides a more seamless shopping experience, but also valuable data for Reformation. See the Ultra-Connected Fitting Rooms section in Omni-Interactive: In-Store Strategy.
- Close Companions Only: US casual fashion label Abercrombie & Fitch has opened a store in Columbus, Ohio that includes two fitting room “suites”. These individual capsules are housed in a larger private suite, allowing shoppers to change in relative privacy – only close companions can weigh in with an opinion. The brand intends to launch six more stores featuring the concept throughout 2017 (locations yet to be disclosed).
- Tech-Powered, Contextually Relevant Styling Tips: At British denim brand Pepe Jeans’ new London flagship, RFID tech detects every item brought into the fitting room. An in-room interactive screen automatically reacts by displaying a styled look incorporating the garment – letting the shopper request other items featured in the look, plus alternative sizes and colours. For more on RFID-enhanced fitting rooms, see EuroShop 2017.
- Communal Hangouts, Exclusive Extras: As first explored in Future-Facing Fitting Rooms, spaces conducive to communal experiences are increasingly key to the youth market. Fitting rooms encircle a lounge hangout area at British fast-fashion e-tailer Missguided’s first bricks-and-mortar location. Opened in London in late 2016, waiting friends can buy cans of 'Unicorn Dreams' water (an exclusive to this store) from British brand CanO Water. See full blog post for more.
- Customisable Ambience – Music & Lighting: Catering to consumers’ booming expectation for personalisation (see Customisation-Courting Flagships), Reformation’s aforementioned San Francisco store lets shoppers adapt the basic ambience of the fitting room. It offers ‘basic’, ‘cool’, ‘golden’ or ‘sexy time’ lighting, while a docking station for phones connects to in-room speakers should they wish to listen to their own music. Similarly, Abercrombie’s new concept offers ‘fireside’, ‘radiant sun’ and ‘night owl’ lighting options, and shoppers can also control music volume.
- Product Demos: Opened in January 2017, Canadian athletic apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica’s London flagship includes night-ambience fitting rooms, allowing shoppers to see how well garments’ reflective elements function in low light. At US outdoor product brand The North Face’s New York flagship, opened in October 2016, mid-floor changing rooms are constructed from the same nylon and aluminium as the brand’s premium tents.
- Themed & Instagrammable: Some brands are amplifying a thematic element to boost their intrigue factor, cultural cred and/or Insta-worthy status. Opened in September 2016 in Tribeca in New York, the changing-room walls of US fashion brand Rag & Bone’s first standalone menswear store are covered in custom graffiti by several street artists previously featured on a Houston Street wall sponsored by the brand. The fitting rooms in Under Armour’s new Brand House in Detroit are painted with images of athletes affiliated with the US sportswear brand by local artists (see also New Glocalisation Strategies). Adidas’s New York flagship, opened late 2016, is inspired by sports stadiums, with changing booths resembling locker rooms. See full blog post for more.
- Feeding the digital proposition of Chinese e-tailer Tmall directly into its first full store space in Hangzhou, Eastern China (see full blog post for more) each changing room area features a make-up station, seating area and a selfie space encouraging customers to shoot and share their looks on social media.