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HELP! Get me out of here!

The Summer sales season represents a true shopping nightmare to many.

While some love the thrill-of-the-chase of a good bargain (as do I), the drawbacks of the shopping experience are just too great for others to even bother. Crowded stores, the frenzied tug-of-wars over flimsy summer tops, long cues at the fitting rooms and check-out counters....It is a nightmare many are quite willing to skip!

I am currently writing our next newsletter, which is about enhancing the in-store shopping experience for women. Over the past few days I have spent quite some time thinking about what I call "fitting room politics": how our experience in the store - and especially in the fitting rooms - can make or break a sale.

Here are my top 3 fitting room "peeves":

1. Uncleaned floors - Nr 1 killer of a positive impression of a brand! All that shiny marble goes to waste when the floors are littered with dust, hairs and clothing fluff! The worst? 7 out of 10 stores have fitting rooms that are not clean!

2. Lazy sales personnel. The kind that expects you to return the items you've just tried on to the correct shelves in the stores (a favorite in Belgium stores!) instead of doing so for you (with a smile!).

3. Fitting room basics: a well-closing curtain or door, a few hooks, a stool (these days often considered a luxury, it seems), flattering lighting.

Getting it right in the fitting room is of the utmost importance: it is probably the ONLY place in which your customer thinks clearly about her purchase. The more comfortable she is here, the more likely she is to buy!

Five creative ways to enhance her fitting room experience:
Food for thought: if your customer saw only the fitting room, would she know what store she is in?

Besides the basics such as natural lighting, clean floors, enough hooks, a stool (yes please!) or a scarf to protect garments, there are several other creative ways in which to enhance the impression your brand will leave on her in the fitting rooms.

1. Brand it! Use the space to reinforce your brand. Repeat brand colors in the curtain, color of the walls. And add your logo!

2. Surprise them! Beautiful, crazy or cute clothes hooks and an eye-catching stool can change the entire look-and-feel of a fitting room. And how about filling those bare white walls with life-size posters of your latest collection?

3. Sooth the senses! A comfortable temperature (20 - 23 degrees), appropriate music (not too loud!), an in-store fragrance machine...

4. Guidance: size charts or that season's color combination charts in fitting rooms are no luxury. These small gestures make your customer feel important and more relaxed!

5. The "pièce de résistance"? A buzzer for staff assistance!
For while most women don't like being trailed by sales staff through a store, they do appreciate some help with getting another size or color when they're in the fitting room. And that's where they'll be making their decision, so isn't it just then that we want to make the experience as pleasant as possible?

And last, but certainly not least: take care of her shopping companions. A seating area with some comfortable chairs, a few magazines and a bowl of sweets is a small investment that will make her feel less rushed when she shops.