Many retailers are reluctant to adopt the practice of locked fitting rooms. For one thing, it necessitates the need for a fitting room attendant or a set of keys for every sales associate. There is also the perception that it’s a barrier to customers who just want to try something on without finding a sales associate first.
If you belong to this school of thought, we have some bad news for you: It could be costing you a lot of money.
Three Reasons Why All Apparel Stores Should Lock Fitting Rooms
There are many reasons why you should lock your fitting rooms. In fact, there’s a good chance just these three reasons will convince you.
1. Capitalize on an Important Shift in the Customer Mindset
When does a customer make the decision to purchase an item of clothing? If you think it’s at the cash register, think again.
Shoppers make their go/no-go decision on an apparel purchase in the fitting room, and entering a fitting room is a thumbs-up sign to your sales associates that they are open to engagement. They have decidedly moved beyond “just looking” and into the buying zone. Sending them into an unattended dressing room is a costly decision!
Locked fitting rooms are the perfect opportunity for your sales associates to engage your customers and offer assistance. For instance, “Are you looking for something for a particular occasion today?” is a natural conversation starter.
Asking questions like that makes perfect sense as the customer makes their way into a fitting room. Once a sales associate knows the intent of shopping trip, they have an opportunity to be legitimately helpful with upsell and cross-sell suggestions that will help the customer reach their goal. They also increase the likelihood that the customer will buy since they won’t have to leave the fitting room for a different size or style.
You must understand that your customer isn’t heading to the fitting room to try on clothes so much as they are trying on clothes to validate their choice and make a decision. Secure fitting rooms staffed by customer service associates are a simple way to ensure that personal service is a natural part of the try-on process.
2. Retail Loss Prevention
Yes, people use fitting rooms to make a buying decision, but customers and employees alike also use them to shoplift. Think about it, is there anywhere else in the store where your merchandise is completely unattended and invisible?
How seriously do you need to take shoplifting? Well, theft accounts for 34% of retail loss in the United States, and apparel theft is one of the leading contributors.
Locked fitting rooms ensure that both legitimate customers and would-be thieves have to interact with a member of your team. Studies show that a thief is much less likely to steal if a sales associate has engaged with them with a name exchange and conversation about shopping goals.
It seems increased customer interaction is the key to increased sales AND lower levels of theft.
Honest shoppers intensely dislike being followed in the store as a loss prevention strategy. Locked fitting rooms are a natural way to keep an eye on things in the fitting room, and to subtly count the items going in vs. items coming out.
3. Increased Sales Through Enhanced Customer Loyalty
Think about your shopping experiences. You can probably remember a time when you made your way to an unlocked fitting room and found it littered with the discarded selections of the previous shopper. It’s rather distasteful, isn’t it?
By ensuring that fitting rooms are well-maintained throughout the day, you’re offering the customers a more positive shopping experience. A fitting room attendant or a sales associate can quickly remove items left behind when unlocking the door, giving the customer a clean slate.
When your customer enters the fitting room, they have a brand ambassador (aka, your sales associate) right there to help with additional items or different sizes when needed. Providing service on call buttons in the fitting rooms makes asking for help even easier. The locked fitting room naturally lends itself to an authentic interaction with a member of your team, which in turn leads to increased customer loyalty.
Locked fitting rooms create a way for your staff to keep the fitting room presentable and casually engage customers.
Final Word of Advice
Hopefully, you now understand the benefits of locking your fitting rooms. A final word of advice – once you secure your fitting rooms, you will need to have fitting room attendants on hand at all times or supply keys to your sales associates.
When a customer is ready to make a decision, nothing will frustrate them more than arriving at a locked fitting room door and being unable to find someone to let them in. They will either leave the store empty handed or try their items on at home and return them if they don’t work out.
That’s a hassle for your employees, and more importantly for the customer. Returns are also bad for your bottom line, especially since those returns are more likely to end up marked down. An annoying trip for a return could be your shopper’s last visit to your store as well, so be sure to manage your operational processes correctly!