Store Fitting Rooms Are Terrible And Make Everyone Feel Terrible

Image courtesy of some lady at Kmart

Do you like to take an armful of clothing items, bring them three at a time into the fitting room, put them on, look at yourself in the mirror under harsh fluorescent lights, and make a quick judgement in the store? Most people don’t appreciate this experience, which is one of the reasons why people are shopping online as much as they can. However, the return rate for clothes purchases is the same in stores and online. Why is that?

Yes, that’s actually true: we learned from Marketwatch that data from Body Labs, a company that studies how human bodies move and are shaped, shows that people return 22% of clothes purchased in stores, but 23% of clothes purchased online. That shouldn’t be the case, since stores that sell clothes generally have fitting rooms: people might change their minds later on, but things getting returned because they don’t fit shouldn’t happen. In theory.

The problem is that people aren’t actually using fitting rooms: the same data shows that 46% of shoppers surveyed said that they “hate” trying on clothes in a fitting room. That leaves stores with a big incentive to make the experience better. Returns are expensive, since they often don’t just end up back on the store shelf.

People might buy multiple clothing items, try them on in a leisurely fashion at home, and then return them because they don’t want to fuss with the fitting room. Another possibility is that people try things on, then try to apply the same sizing information to other items in the same store, or even other brands. That doesn’t work.

What does work? A retail strategist at Kurt Salmon suggests something very simple to Marketwatch: if a store can’t spare the staff to have someone sitting in the fitting room full-time, at least make a button available so customers can page for help when they need it.

Customers hate fitting rooms — and clothing retailers are paying the price [Marketwatch]

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