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April 5, 2011

Where Did All The Browsers Go?

by Marge Laney

by Marge Laney

Back in 2003 Envision Retail published research that confirmed –

“The fitting room customer is 71% likely to buy versus the customer who browses the sales floor at 28%”. They further declared that this proved that getting customers into the fitting room was good for business. 

Recently, Envision updated this statistic and now states –

“Conversion of customers in the fitting rooms is 67% compared to those who do not use the fitting rooms of only 10%, making the fitting rooms the most commercially valuable space in the store”!

There has been an 18% decrease in the likelihood of the browser buying from 2003 to today!

That’s significant! And begs the question; Why? 

Could it be lack of traffic?

Overall traffic has trended down over the period of time, but I don’t believe that would impact the likelihood of purchase once inside the store.

I believe the reason is the internet.

Consumers no longer need to leave the comfort of their home to browse and purchase. Free shipping and easy return policies make shopping a breeze if there is no immediate need for the product. 

This isn’t all bad and it’s definitely not going to change. Retailers need to be where their customers are. Smart phones and all the mobile technology have expanded shopping opportunities and changed the retail landscape beyond recognition.

Consumers access information and purchase products in different ways depending on their location and need. It is essential for successful retailers to understand who their customers are and how they choose to interact with their brand and make it easy.

The important take away for the brick and mortar apparel retailer is that even though the browser is shopping in a different way, the customer who uses the fitting room is not. 

Fitting rooms and those customers who use them, are the reason they will continue to exist. 

Customers who traditionally visit stores, buy without trying on, and return what doesn’t fit are abandoning this shopping routine in favor of online shopping from home. 

The 2011 customer who makes the trip to the mall is a more committed customer, and they are there to buy. 

While creating and implementing a memorable fitting room service experience may not be sexy or cutting edge, it will sell merchandise, which is the point.  Isn’t it?

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