Thursday, November 15, 2007

Does the retail clothing store experience continue to fail?

I love the Adaptive Path blog. The posters there are super-smart, entertaining, and always capable of coaxing an insightful argument out of even mundane content. Julia's recent post about the retail experience is no exception, and she laments that dressing rooms are still inadequate (a sentiment that echoes Paco Underhill's own observation in Why we Buy). But is it fair to say that the retail clothing store experience continues to fail? After all, Julia points out in her own post that:
The layout of the store tends to provide more open space for shoppers than it did just five years ago. Even in department stores, gone are the days of being squeezed in between the sale rack and some soulless sweater display with a half dressed mannequin. It seems there are more boutiques focused on one style or catering to a well thought out target audience than ever before. There are places for people to sit, often with those nice little tables with magazines. I’ve noticed this in nearly every U.S. city I’ve visited this year from Chicago, to DC, to Santa Fe.
So yeah, dressing rooms might still suck, but given the number of things that universally required improvement just a few years ago, it seems like retailers have been paying attention to customers and actually implementing many of the suggested changes. I agree that if retailers can accomplish so much it seems odd that they would fall short of addressing this common gripe, especially since some of the other recent fixes (like recent whole-store planogram changes at Macy's and JCPenney's) must have been much more costly and complex to implement. But even for an occasional shopper like me, the overall state of affairs inside the typical clothing or department store has improved noticeably over the past 5 years, and is far from what I'd consider failing.

Now remind me I said that in three or four weeks when I'm at the mall during the height of holiday shopping season ;)

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