What Women Want…….. In the dressing room

Your store’s dressing room. For a woman who is shopping, this can be the best and worst space on earth.  Recently I had the opportunity to go shopping.  I was on a mission to invest in some new yoga wear and a winter coat. I ventured into a few outdoor stores in my local area to find the specific brands I preferred.
Women spend over $4.4 Trillion a year.  The rest of the retail world caters to women: EXCEPT in the Specialty Outdoor Sports Industry.  Sadly my recent experience proves this once again.
The selection was amazing.  I quickly gathered two arms full of clothes and I needed to try them on (things don’t always fit the way they look on the hanger). I was very excited to see how I looked in these clothes–but amazingly–I was unable to locate the dressing rooms!
Where are your Dressing Rooms? 
My latest experience in a specialty outdoor retailer is unfortunate.  When I finally came across the ONE dressing room in the store it had the look and feel of a port-a-potty.  No joke!  It was smaller than an airplane bathroom with a small mirror, a broken hook on the back of the door and a lock that said “OCCUPIED”.

Don’t hide your dressing rooms.  Tell us where your dressing rooms are at the beginning of our shopping experience. This way we can plot out how we are going to walk through your store.
Pay attention to your Dressing Rooms
It is humiliating for a woman–naked and in your dressing room–to discover that she doesn’t have the correct sizes!   The likelihood of a woman putting all her clothes back on to traipse through your store to find the right size:  Slim to None.
If there had been an employee observing that I had clothes in my hands coming towards me, taking the clothes away from me, unlocking the door for me, and getting me started in my own personal dressing room that would have been the beginning of building rapport.
Rapport then allows your sales associates to make other suggestions.  If women feel like they have someone who really cares about them, they could be open to trying on more items.  They would know that there was someone checking in on them to see how sizes were fitting and GETTING the new sizes for them.
This did not happen in my case.   As I tried each item on, nothing I had was the correct size and there was no one to help me.
The Basics: Space and Comfort
What do women want when we try on clothes?  SPACE and COMFORT!
Women want to be comfortable and if a woman is comfortable and the items fit, you can bet that she is going to spend a lot of money.  Women also want a lot of SPACE so we can lay all of our items out just like we do when we are at home. Every item gets laid on the bed.  In your dressing room, we want to hang our purse up on a hook and take off our shoes.  Now imagine doing this in an airplane bathroom!
Back to my story: I was determined to spend my money this day so I pressed on in my tiny space.
The other thing that happens in the dressing room is JUDGEMENT.  Women want to look good.  When we try clothes on we may not grab the correct size because we don’t know the brand well enough to know how it fits.  So rather than think this way we take it personally and begin a series of thoughts:
“You need to work out more”
“Your butt is too big”
“Stop drinking so much beer”
“You are getting fat”
And, the list goes on…
If I had a trusted advisor educating me on the product and the features and reassuring me on product design, I would relax and get the size that was made for my body type and look fantastic.  When I look fantastic I want to buy fantastic.
In my recent experience , I got extremely discouraged, I got dressed and I got nothing. I went into the “dressing room” with over $1,200 worth of apparel.
I realize it might be impossible to change the size or even the location of your dressing rooms, but you can start by making effort in these areas:

1. Proper signs – Placing signs above the dressing room area and around the store to tell women where your dressing rooms are.
2. Make sure that every employee makes it a priority to be aware of the dressing room at all times. If    possible, put one employee in charge of the area for an entire shift.  Either way, you must train your staff on effective service tactics with a customer who is in the dressing room!

3. Space/Comfort 
You might not be able to change the size of your dressing room but you can make sure that it is comfortable.
-Lighting is critical. 
-You should have great mirrors in your dressing rooms, which give the illusion of a bigger space.
-Plenty of hooks for hanging clothes up
-if there’s room, have a nice chair in the dressing room.
-Be sure the floor stays clean!
Women are more active than ever.  We want to be outside looking good as we run, cycle, rock climb, ski, and coach our kid’s soccer league.  Therefore we are venturing into more independent specialty stores.  Help us spend more money with you, begin by paying attention to your dressing rooms.

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