According to a recent study by retail consultant Envision Retail Ltd., customers who try on clothes in stores have a 67 percent chance of buying something, whereas those who don't have a mere 10 percent chance. This is partly due to the fact that people who don't try anything on just didn't like what they saw so weren't going to buy it anyway. But The Wall Street Journal notes that people don't try things on because dressing rooms are unpleasant. Therefore, stores are attempting to lure customers into spending more by turning their dressing rooms into more tempting places. The psychology is that if customers are relaxed and happy — instead of cranky that the door won't close all the way, or stressed that their boyfriends are impatiently waiting outside, or horrified by the dimples that they can suddenly see on their thighs — they'll be more likely to buy the clothes.
Women are the target demographic for dressing-room improvements, since men tend not to try on clothes regardless, according to retail behavioral research (this is probably due to men's sizing being far more uniform than women's, among other things). So here are some new tactics that stores are trying to make their dressing rooms more convincing to buyers:
Making dressing rooms nicer for female shoppers' disinterested boyfriends, husbands, or children.
For women shopping with children or a boyfriend or husband, department store chain Macy's Inc. has been gradually updating its stores to add communal waiting spots with flat-screen TVs tuned to either sports or cartoons and upholstered seating.
Making dressing rooms bigger so that women can go in them together.
Anthropologie, a division of Urban Outfitters Inc., makes sure each room can accommodate more than one person. "They consider it a little bit of a party," says Co-President Wendy B. McDevitt.
Dedicating more space to fitting rooms, period:
Clothing stores typically allot about 20% of the square footage towards fitting rooms and storage and 80% towards displaying the merchandise, says Robin Kramer, head of Kramer Design Group, a retail branding and design firm which works with clients from Talbots to Alexander Wang. She has lobbied stores to dedicate more space to their fitting rooms. "It's the moment where you put the brand on your body and decide if that's what you want," Ms. Kramer says.
And, of course, lighting, which should reveal as few dimples as possible:
The new Ann Taylor rooms have six sources of lighting and three types of bulbs, compared to one source and type of lighting in the old design. The mixture of ceramic metal halide, compact fluorescent and low-voltage bulbs is more flattering, Ms. Dorfman says.
So, if you notice these things in the dressing room, think extra hard about whether you actually want to buy what you're trying on, or if it's just that you're happy that your boyfriend has stopped complaining about being dragged there.