“Me Places” in Retail: The Fitting Rooms
With many brick and mortar stores fighting an uphill battle against online shopping, retailers are trying new tactics to bring in shoppers. But what truly makes people want to spend time in a store? People like to feel special. They like to have choices. People like me spaces.
At GlobalShop, the Retail industry’s largest tradeshow in Las Vegas, Bergmeyer Senior Associate Mare Weiss joined a panel of industry leaders to discuss current retail trends where she presented the concept of me spaces. Mare believes “people enjoy activities that focus on oneself.” We prefer products that were produced just for us. We wear tech gadgets that deliver personalized health information. We enjoy expressing how we feel and the feeling of being the star on social media. Mare described the notion of me spaces as “places that create emotional experiences by tapping into the mood of a guest.” Her concept of “catering to me” emphasizes individuality and wraps the space around the users. They’re spaces that allow guests to personalize their experience and the ability to share their experience with others. They cater to the senses to reflect the guest’s mood. Me spaces make guests feel important, the center of attention, in control, and comfortable being themselves in their space.
Where does the role of me spaces fit into retail design? To Mare, “people make decisions based on their mood, and it is the role of retail to tap into their mood.” Reflecting on the lecture, I realized a strong opportunity for me spaces is the fitting room. The fitting room is the most intimate area of a store, and where 60% of shopping decisions are made.* There’s no better place to make a customer feel good than in the fitting room. Here’s how some major retailers are creating more “me-focused” fitting rooms:
- Adding merchandise in the fitting room encourages shoppers to continue building outfits. Abercromie’s new prototype, as well as Athleta stores, includes racks of clothing in the fitting room lounge so customers can continue shopping within the privacy of the fitting rooms. Using a tech approach, Polo Ralph Lauren and Rebecca Minkoff use smart mirrors to show additional product and outfit suggestions from individual fitting rooms.
- Allowing shoppers to choose their experience by providing atmospheres which emotionally connect to the brand. The Under Armor Brand House, in Boston MA, outfits each fitting room with a different local sports theme to let shoppers choose the fitting room they prefer that day. I personally favor the Brady Room. Similarly, Lily Pulizer covers each fitting room with a different pattern from their collection. How fun would it be if sales associates inspired the conversation by asking, “Which Lily print are you feeling today?”
- Allowing customers to create a more personalized ambiance with adjustable features. Reformation fitting rooms allow customers to plug in their phone to play music and change the light levels from ‘basic,’ ‘cool,’ ‘golden,’ or ‘sexy time’ lighting.
- Another suggestion is giving customers control over their transaction. New technology offers self-checkout within the fitting rooms for a seamless transaction experience. Japanese retailer Urban Research utilizes smart mirrors with the ability to add pieces to a shopping bag and check out directly through the brand’s website for a quick transaction.
Create a Mini-Sanctuary:
Creating a respite from the visual noise of the sales floor within the fitting rooms brings a sense of calm in which a customer can relax and focus. Design details such as lowered ceiling and soft carpets create a comfortable, more intimate environment. Some retailers are making shoppers feel special and welcomed by offering water or champagne upon arrival. Most importantly, make shoppers feel at home. European brands G-Star and Hunkemoller have added dressing robes allowing guests to comfortably walk outside the fitting room in between outfits. Espirt, in Cologne Germany, adds a residential vibe to individual fitting rooms by including furniture pieces, such as writing desks and table lamps. The Chanel Boutique, on Boston’s Newbury Street, features a grand armoire which sales associates fill with outfits and accessories to emulate the feeling of trying on at home.
Make it Social:
Socialization sells. Retailers are creating larger lounge areas for friends to gather during the shopping experience. Abercrombie’s new prototype features suites of rooms with a private lounge that creates an intimate fitting room environment for friends or groups. On a more service oriented level, Artizia hosts private events or birthday parties in the private setting of their fitting rooms.
People love posting online, so set the stage and the tools, to encourage the sharing of their outfits and shopping experiences online. Tommy Hilfiger’s Dusseldorf flagship added tablets with cords encouraging shoppers to move the tablet to capture the perfect selfie angle. The Karl Lagerfeld store in London has a camera with branded filters to post online. The design of a fitting room or lounge area can create inspiring spots for “Instagrammable” moments that shoppers will share. These are ways to inspire shoppers to be brand ambassadors.
Online retailer, ModCloth, uses real woman as models for their clothing, and feature a Style Gallery of other women wearing the clothing. Rent the Runway also shows images of previous renters wearing the outfits. If retailers could own the shared images, wouldn’t it be beneficial in fitting rooms to show shoppers how other customers of similar size/shape wear the shirt they’re trying on?
Me spaces offer a shopping experience only available in stores. The fitting room is just one place to make guests feel special and empowered in a retail environment. Everyone enjoys a little self-indulgent attention. Stores should reflect the individual desires of shoppers to create a shopping experience truly for “me.”
Read more about innovative fitting rooms on Stylus.
*according to a 2014 study by technology brand Philips.
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