Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fitting Rooms: The "Last Mile" of Clothing Retailers

The last mile usually refers to the final connection between a telecom firm and its customers. It's been a challenge for all kinds of marketers trying to complete the distribution link to the customer's door (or office).

Clothing stores have a different "last mile," IMHO: The fitting room. If a customer takes clothing into the fitting room, there's a much, much better chance she'll take it home (assuming it fits). So what happens in the fitting room can make or break the sale.

Online retailers (and some store retailers) are using technology to show customers how clothing will fit. The auction/retail site eBay has an app to let you see how sunglasses will look before you buy. Virtual fitting rooms take some of the risk out of buying online, but when the customer is in the store, the fitting room is the last mile.

However, most fitting rooms aren't known for their customer-friendly ambiance. Now that's changing as stores upgrade this vital connection in the last mile. Some are putting fitting rooms in more central locations, rather than tucked into a faraway corner. Some are enlarging individual rooms, adding furniture, changing lighting. Macy's has tested a virtual fitting room in the store (see above), which not only lets the shopper see the "fit" but allows friends to see and comment, too.

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