Joe Budano, CEO at Indyme, a retail solutions provider, explains why lingerie stores need to look towards technology to find the perfect fit.
Fitting rooms show up regularly in most apparel stores’ shopping experience surveys as a key driver of satisfaction. In fact, shoppers that use these areas are three times more likely to make a purchase than those who don’t. This is especially pertinent for retailers who sell lingerie, where the nature of the product demands the use of a fitting room.
Retailers are aware that fitting rooms are a quintessential focal point in the path to purchase, but if properly instrumented they can now offer a rare glimpse into consumer behaviour. This insight is starting to enable savvy stores to improve customer satisfaction, increase conversion and average purchase value, while reducing shrink and staffing costs.
Enhancing customer experience
By employing technologies available today, retailers can, for the first time, quickly and inexpensively instrument their fitting rooms to tap into valuable consumer insights.
With these systems it is now possible to analyse a number of factors, including customer dwell in the fitting room and when queues form, which store managers can then act upon.
A pressing issue for a lingerie department is being able to service all customer enquiries in a timely and accurate fashion. Retailers can enhance a consumer’s experience in a variety of ways, such as allowing customers to request a locked fitting room be opened. Shop assistants can even reserve a fitting room for a shopper with a handful of garments, allowing her to shop more.
But, perhaps the most important functionality of a fitting room management system for the lingerie industry is allowing shoppers to request a different size or colour from within the fitting room, resulting in more sales and more satisfied customers.
Even when fitting rooms are open and accessible, consumers purchasing underwear increasingly require assistance, with over 40% stating that they have previously requested help from shop assistants when using a fitting room to change the size or colour of an item.
Improving store management
By analysing the frequency in which fitting rooms are used and the average dwell time, retailers can improve their loss prevention solutions whilst simultaneously enhancing a consumer’s experience.
The decision to lock fitting rooms, something that regularly creates tension between loss prevention, merchandising and store operations, is an area of retail management that can be influenced through a fitting room management system. Due to the size of the product, lingerie departments will routinely lock unattended fitting rooms in order to prevent theft. However, armed with data on fitting room utilisation and conversion, retailers can now analyse the impact of these decisions and implement policies to restore sales once fitting rooms are locked.
Through assessing fitting room usage and the average response times, retailers can not only improve staffing schedules, but accommodate increased traffic by ensuring assistance is always available. Of the 2,000 consumers interviewed by Indyme about their experiences in the fitting room, 67% said they would ask for help – either using a help button, if available, or by asking for feedback on an item. In addition, greater awareness of response times within the area will also enable retailers to set goals internally to ensure consumer enquiries are dealt with effectively and in a timely manner.
Queues to use fitting rooms are frequent in lingerie departments and lead to abandonment of sales as frustrated shoppers leave to shop elsewhere. Retailers can now determine precisely what days and times queues form and measure what happens to conversion and sales during times when occupancy is 100 percent. This information allows management to make better decisions on staffing levels or to limit the number of articles brought into the fitting room during peak times.
Increase conversion rates
Increasing traffic to the fitting room is hugely important to apparel retailers. By analysing in-store footfall and identifying the number of consumers that enter and use the fitting room, retailers can establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in this area to drive improvements.
A negative fitting room experience drives consumers to abandon their purchases, resulting in lost sales and damaged reputations. With only 7% of consumers enjoying the fitting room experience, it is clear that retailers cannot afford to be complacent about the impact of the experience and the opportunity it presents to improve customer engagement and loyalty.
Our research has shown that, of the consumers trying on clothes in-store, 50% purchased three items or more than those who didn’t use fitting rooms.
The data attained through instrumenting the fitting room allows retailers to understand the likelihood of conversions and focus on improving fitting room utilisation and increasing sales.
With consumers who try on clothes in store more likely to purchase goods, just a small increase in store traffic entering the fitting room could result in a significant sales increase, making it even more important to analyse the data on offer.
With intelligent fitting room management solutions now available to ensure that lingerie retailers can improve customer satisfaction, while increasing conversion rates, the ill-managed and potentially damaging fitting room experience should quickly become an issue of the past.