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April 7, 2011


Why Retail Fitting Rooms Are Awful & What To Do About Yours

by Marge Laney

by Marge Laney

Fitting rooms and their service, as well as how to outfit and staff them, are passions of mine.

That’s why I was excited to be included in the article in the Wall Street Journal about fitting rooms yesterday.

As I was reading the story though, I had to re-check the date at the top of the page because it sure sounded like it was 1995 all over again. The writer focused once again on why making fitting rooms productive is so elusive for the brick and mortar apparel retailers. 

Why is keeping the dressing room area free of dirt and dust too much for some, while others think a laser focus on tweaking paint colors, adding couches and posters will ‘seduce’ customers?  All under the misnomer of service

Why wasn’t the importance of the fitting room in relation to sales and other performance metrics the true story in the WSJ rather than an episode of HGTV for dressing room chic? 

Should making the fitting room area inviting and clean be a priority?  Absolutely! 

Will making the fitting room area inviting and clean sell merchandise? Absolutely not! Yes the design aesthetics of the fitting room should complement the rest of the store, but chandeliers don’t sell!

 Our studies at Alert Technologies show that guys don’t use fitting rooms when they know they can’t get service. But when you give a guy a sales associate feeding them clothes in the fitting room – they’ll stay there for hours. 

Better yet, give a guy a call button to call an associate to help with sizes, colors, or just an opinion and they’ll use it often and without invitation! The men’s clothing segment is the fastest growing segment in 2011.  Are you really going to use 1995 thinking to capture them? No!

The problem for most retailers in their pursuit of excellence in the fitting room is that either no one in their organization owns the fitting room experience, or it’s owned by the store designers.

Let me make this clear: Design is not service

Nobody’s paycheck depends on how well their fitting room strategy performs.

It’s nobody’s job to buy fitting room technology.

No one really knows what percent of their store traffic uses the fitting room. Or how long the typical customer stays. Or how many times they’ve received service.  And why is that?

It’s nobody’s job to know. Hence…


According to Envision Retail in the WSJ article:

  • Customers who try on clothes in fitting rooms have a conversion rate of 67%.
  • Customers who don’t use the fitting rooms have only a 10% conversion rate.
  • Shoppers who use the fitting rooms spend a third of their in-store time there.

Driving customers to the fitting room and keeping them there with service and selling strategies should be job one for associates.

Hoping that customers wander in because the poster on the wall encourages them, or the lounge chairs offer a comfortable rest stop for hubby, is a lousy strategy. 

Look I get it, payrolls are stressed. But with the right payroll allocation and technology that helps with the control and service of the fitting room area, it can be done.

Brick-and-mortar is stuck. Technology that supports the fitting room experience is practically non-existent – that must change. And that’s why our company does what it does with technology and training.

Please stop calling store design customer service

Let’s make someone’s paycheck depend on how good the fitting room service strategy is. And how well it’s executed.

Embrace your fitting rooms as a conversion tool, because if you don’t a competitor will.

Marge Laney is President of Alert Technologies, a technology manufacturer and consultancy that is focused on customer facing service technology for retail.  Call her to discuss your fitting room needs at 281-326-9900.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. UT
    Apr 8 2011


  2. bob
    Sep 20 2011

    I can’t agree no more. great article.

  3. Line Kolling
    Apr 19 2012

    Hi Marge.
    I agree with you in this article. And I have a question for you. We are making a project about an intelligent fitting room. You can see it on this link:

    Do you think it would work? :-)

    Best regards
    Line Kolling

  4. May 30 2013

    Thank you for another magnificent article. Where else could anyone get that type of information in such a perfect method of
    writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such information.


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