Take Me To Your Dressing Room

The following is the outline to Leslie Cunningham’s seminar at the inaugural Running and Fitness Event for Women on 6.30.14
Introduction: We spend a lot of time in the retail environment working with clients and see many areas where attention and changes in approach will affect the bottom line in a positive way. More importantly these changes will create a powerful experience for your customers. What I want to specifically talk about today is the dressing room area. My goal is for you to leave this seminar thinking differently about your dressing room strategies and a few concrete ideas to give you a competitive advantage in your market place.
1. Women buy over 80% of all goods and services which adds up to $4.4 Trillion / year.
2. Leisure Trend Stat $3.5 Billion was spent in the women’s hot growth sector of running, outdoor and cycling.  Women will spend 8 years of their lives shopping.
3. On Average women will spend 400hrs/Year on 300+ shopping trips.
4. Women try on 720 items every year which adds up to 43,400 during a 60 year lifetime of dressing room visits.
5. Once a woman makes it to your dressing room they will spend about a third of their in-store time there.  YOU NEED TO HAVE A PLAN!!
6. Women on average go on five shopping trips a week trying on 14 pieces each time (that goes up in swimsuit season.)
7. If you sell swimsuits for every one bottom a women buys two tops…this is true for sports bra’s, tops etc.
8.  Amount of time spent in a changing room, per trip, on average is 22 minutes for women.
These are averages…some women shop more and some shop less…but even so what would a 71% conversion rate be for your store?
#1 complaint from women:  “Lack of help when needed”
II.  When a customer is in your dressing room their odds of buying from you triple.
III. Dressing rooms are the most under utilized place in a store but have the highest potential to grow your dollars per square foot.
IV. Where are our opportunities?  SPACE, SERVICE, STRATEGY
A.  SPACE –  Make it hers/Basic

1. Critical eye – look at your dressing room as your women consumer would:

2.  Lighting – If you are going to spend money it would be best spent on good lighting in your                                      dressing room  
a.  Dressing room lighting is paramount, especially when it comes to using the mirrors.
b.  Unflattering lighting can easily turn a prospective customer away when they look in the mirror and get distracted by their perceived blemishes.
c. The better the customer looks in the mirror, the better they are going to feel about the things they’re trying on.
d.  Ambient lighting is important as well. A dressing room area with a comfortable mood and ambience can improve a customer’s mood and increase the chances for a purchase.

3.  Room
a.  It should also be large enough so that when they have successfully undressed and are attempting to make a decision about what to buy; they have enough room to look into the mirror from a reasonable distance and see themselves. 
b.  Outdoor/Running and Bike Specialty Retailers often get parents who want to bring their kids and strollers in with them.
c.  Women tend to make clothes shopping a social occasion and bring their friends in for consultation. It’s good if you can accommodate these scenarios. 
4.  Chairs, Hooks Bars and Outlets-
a.  Customers like a minimum of four dumping grounds: one for their own clothes and purse, one for the items to be tried on, one for the “no’s” and one for the “yeses.”    
b.  Benches work well for the first one while hooks and hanger bars work best for the last three.
c. Secure/ Safety


 5.  Clean up –  
a.  Clean up the clothes from previous shoppers, the pins and other fasteners from previous shoppers, and Lord knows, any other icky stuff from past shoppers!
b.  Make it important for her to be the diva in the dressing room. Just like hotel rooms…she shouldn’t have to clean up after herself.  Hang things back on hangers etc.
  6.  Doors – 

a.  Dress them up.
b.  Personalizing your dressing rooms will help you stand out as a unique retail space and help your customers to identify the store. 
c.  One technique is to write the customers’ names on the doors so that the salesperson can call them by their name when offering service. 
d.  Adding your brand character is important for crafting a retail brand that stands out. 

7.  Ultimately the SPACE you create equals what sort of experience you want your store to be?
a.  Think about what you are trying to communicate to your customers when you design your store and dressing room facilities.
b.  Do you want people to feel comfortable? Outdoorsy? Wrapped in luxury?  Like they’re on a vacation? What is your brand promise? 
c.  What is relevant information that educates your consumer about your retail store, events, community or product information.  Configure your decor to encourage and perpetuate this feeling.
B.  Help Me/SERVICE/Be Different
1.  Where is it?                  
                                                      Signs –

Make the fitting rooms easy to find while on the shopping floor.        Target, Dick’s, REI have an advantage with similar layout in store design as I know where the dressing rooms are going to be when I walk in and have my plan of attack ready


TOO many times the Dressing Room is self-serve What do you do when they are in the dressing room? Remember that I am a captive audience at this point and for the most part Naked!!
1.  Offer assistance

2.  Forecast
3.  Facilitate the dressing room

C.  Be The Expert /STRATEGY – Your strategy should not be giving a key to the dressing room on my first day of work.  I need to earn the right to have a key!  Vans/Gap/Buckle you have to pass a series of training and test before you can ever be called a dressing room attendant. 
Train your staff around the dressing room A LOT and often.
1.  Staff needs to understand the Strategy with dressing room
a.  Weekly training in the dressing room with focused apparel training
b.  Make sure that every employee knows their goal is to get customers to try on the merchandise
c.  Make sure that when your sales people take customers to the dressing room they unfold items, lay them out or hang them neatly (practice ways to lay out clothes in your dressing room that go with your brand) Make sure your employees know the art in connecting to women!
d.  Make sure your employees are confident in making suggestions to complete the outfit.  If you sell Bathing Suits offer a cover up.  If a woman is trying on a sports bra give her a few top selections to try on  too
e.  Let’s talk sports bra’s…a woman should buy a sports bra every 3 months to a year depending on how often she wears it and how well it’s being taken care of.  Always  suggest a sports bra. Make her feel comfortable.
f.  Be straight forward about the bra.
V. Call to action
Good Service converts to repeat customers.  When you get an item in someone’s hands or on their body they are much more likely to bond with it.  These are necessary steps if you want to move conversion rates and margins higher. 
You now have the competitive advantage…there is power in understanding the dressing room.
For information on how The Mann Group can help your store achieve higher top line sales, engaged employees and super loyal customers, please contact Leslie at lcunningham@manngroup.net or give her a call at 1-800-936-3049 ext 701.
About the speaker:
Leslie Cunningham is a mom, active cyclist, runner and the Chief Connection Officer at The Mann Group. Leslie is a master of maintaining relationships. From her photography work with celebrities including John Mellencamp, Mikhail Gorbachev and Michael Andretti, to publishing a book that is empowering new mothers everywhere. Leslie knows people. 
For the past 20+ years she has perfected the art of connecting with people. Leslie has been a Human Resources Director for over 150 small business owners developing training, workers compensation and employee benefit programs. Leslie worked as a HR Executive during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2001. She also managed fundraising for the Ronald McDonald House raising over a quarter of a million dollars in one evening.  Leslie connects with people and walks along side of the them until they are living their life with  ease and passion. “I sense where people are unhappy and connect them to solutions.”

Comments (1)

Thanks Leslie for a great article! Very practical and sensible advice on how to get the most revenue from every square foot!

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