Posted By Simon Francis
On a recent trip to New York, I took a couple of hours out of the schedule to enjoy some Fifth Avenue “Retail Therapy”…please don’t tell my boss….
It is difficult in my line of business not to notice the differences in retail experiences, and how they can be improved. In this occasion a particular example came to mind, I would call this “Don’t Leave Me!!”
One large clothing store was on the itinerary. I really like this brand and I am a regular customer. However, on this visit I looked at what is a fairly typical situation from a “Why isn’t this better?” viewpoint. I selected the trousers (pants; I’m from the UK) I wanted, in my size and headed for the changing rooms. It was a wintery day, so after entering the cubicle I removed my coat, assembled my precious earlier purchases in the corner and got down to the business of trying the pants on.
Wrong size—too short and too small around the waist to even close. Peeking my head out the door, I saw no assistant. Now I enter into what I call “Changing Room Dilemma”—how do I get the size I want?
- Walk into a high-fashion store in my socks in a pair of trousers that are too short and open at the fly.
- Change back into my jeans, and of course shoes; after all, who wants to walk around a store in their socks? (Of course I had chosen lace up shoes that day. Note to self: Wear slip-on shoes when shopping)
Obviously, I chose option 2, thinking that by the time I re-dressed, it would be easier to simply leave. However, I am a hunter and the prey is in sight.
Second changing room dilemma: Do I leave my coat and shopping bags in the changing cubicle, or take those out as well? In the end, I opted to take my mobile and wallet out of my coat and risk losing my other goods as I headed out back to the store.
It’s a long way to make a point, but this small retail story is true, and I’m sure you’ve all been there.
According to retail consultant Envision Retail Ltd., physical changing rooms have a sales conversion rate of 67 percent. Here’s a thought on how this can be improved upon: simply “Don’t Leave Me!” We had started on a glorious journey—I have taken notice of the marketing, I like the store front, the friendly greeting is great, I like the store layout and I want the brand. Yet, at the very point at which I am about to purchase, I feel abandoned and alone. We were on a journey and at the penultimate turn, I am on my own.
I look at some of the possibilities for changing-room solutions, and wonder why there is so rarely something to help me and to keep the journey smooth. I imagine a low-tech option that simply lights a bulb somewhere to say “come help me.” At the other end of the spectrum, the tremendous momentum of intelligent systems in the retail industry means it shouldn’t be long before technology steps up to assist shoppers like me. It doesn’t have to be complex solution. I see solutions—such as in-mall sizing kiosks from FaceCake (shown here) and Me-Ality—that continue the conversation, or “in-cubicle” kiosks which allow me to tell the store exactly what I need while still in the changing room (which, in this case, was simply a pair of khakis in a 34 long). While I’m waiting, why not show me a great belt or pair of shoes that match? I might also want to browse your stock for a couple of shirts to try on. After all, the changing room is still one of the most powerful assets that brick and mortar stores have.
In my work life, it’s all about the journey through the sales funnel. Don’t leave me when I am an almost-certain purchaser.