C. Wonder’s Wonderful Dressing Rooms

Discussion
May 22, 2012

While C. Wonder, a newer luxury concept, includes many dazzling features, the most surprising to some reviewers is its deluxe take on the dressing room.

A tour by RetailWire of its dressing rooms at its store in SoHo on Manhattan’s Spring Street revealed features generally expected from dressing rooms at an upscale clothing store with several twists, including:

  • Opulence: The dressing room features a velvet curtain, plush chair, sleek dark brown wood walls, and a massive eight foot mirror;
  • Spaciousness: Measuring four by five feet, the space provides ample room for the shopper to view a potential purchase from numerous angles. Or, the shopper can comfortably invite one or two other shopping cohorts in for advice on a purchase;
  • Mood lighting: A digital screen on the side wall includes light settings to help the shopper view any potential purchase in daylight, club or bedroom lighting. The four settings are: Dark, Dim, Medium and Bright;
  • Mood music: Visitors can use the screen to can pick songs from eight different music station buttons depending on their mood and tastes. For instance, the "Nostalgia" station was playing Aretha Franklin on a recent visit. The seven other music stations include: "Wonder-ful," "Excited," "Flirt," "Playful," Confident," "Refreshing," and "Cool." Four volume levels are also available: Mute, Soft, Medium and High;
  • Sensors: Mimicking the start of a performance, sensors trigger the music to start and the lights to turn on after the shopper enters the room;
  • Help button: The lower-right hand corner of the screen includes a "Need help? Press me!" button to summon the associate standing just outside the dressing room;
  • Refreshments: Bottled water and lemonade are nearby for dressing room visitors.

C. Wonder is the invention of Chris Burch, ex-husband of designer Tory Burch. Featuring a curated collection of apparel, accessories and home décor, the store has gained particular media attention for its strong emphasis on the store experience with its bright colors, themed in-store shops, monogramming and embroidery options, DJs and dancing store associates.

An article reviewing C. Wonder’s dressing rooms in The Record in North Jersey noted that other retailers have likewise modernized their dressing rooms. At Prada’s flagships in SoHo, San Francisco and Los Angeles, a "magic mirror" allows shoppers to see their outfits from all sides and send pictures to friends. At Aeropostale, the glass see-through dressing room doors fogs up with the aid of sensors when a person enters.

Discussion Questions: What do you find most impressive about C. Wonder’s dressing rooms? What major and/or minor enhancements would you like to see made to dressing rooms in general?

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10 Comments on "C. Wonder’s Wonderful Dressing Rooms"

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Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Any time you can make the experience of trying on clothes more personal, more fun, and more engaging, the better. Kudos to C.Wonder for the personalization of the experience versus Prada’s “hold it up it in front of every one and quickly decide.” The more apparel retailers can differentiate the trying-on experience like Victoria’s Secret has, the more profitable they will become.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

It has long been recognized that the ‘try on’ experience dramatically influences the ‘buy’ experience. Unfortunately there are still far too many cramped dressing rooms with flimsy curtains, one hook and pins and labels all over the floor. The experience is almost identical to being shoved into the utility room. If the room depresses you so will the clothes.

The question I have is how many of these features are really important to the customer, even wealthy ones? There really is no point to spending money on things that aren’t important or valued. For example I guarantee that ‘hooks’ make a much stronger impression than dark wood paneling or mood music. Knowing what actually adds value is critical to wise financial investments.

Frank Riso
BrainTrust

I visited the C Wonder store in Soho in New York City, just a few weeks ago. The store carries some housewares but mostly clothing and jewelry for women between the ages of 30 to 40 if I recall correctly. Therefore I had no opportunity to visit the changing room, but was not surprised to learn that it continues to use technology and customer service seen in the rest of the store. Now every item in the store, from the clothing right down to glassware, is RFID labeled. Each sales associate uses a mobile device to service customers and for mobile point of sale. They do maintain a cash drawer for the less than 5 percent of cash transactions. And they play a lot more funky music than in the changing rooms, throughout the store. It is truly worth the visit and the women just love the place. Less than 10 stores today but they are sure to grow.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust
As a technology guy, I always like to see technology innovation. In this case though, I don’t see technology as the selling point. The focus here is the fact that the dressing room was considered to be a very important aspect of the store’s user experience and not some back room dumping ground beyond the view of most shoppers. There’s a major retailer (often mentioned at RetailWire.com) that my wife has been turned off by, due to their filthy, broken, and run down dressing rooms. It has caused her to minimize shopping there because she doesn’t want to try on clothes in that environment. C. Wonder was smart enough to recognize that a dressing room is an important touch point for clothing shoppers and chose to treat it as such. That’s a critical breakthrough in the typical retailer’s thinking. I’m sure there are nice dressing rooms out there, but even so, there’s more to the concept of experience than being “nice”. Regarding enhancements: we would use technologies to make things more hands off and natural, rather than having customers have to fiddle with yet another device when their intention is to try on clothing. Many people carry their music with… Read more »
Marge Laney
BrainTrust
5 years 3 months ago

Shopping may be digital, but the apparel buying decision is still analog, requiring the customer to try on before the final purchase decision is made.

No apparel purchase decision is made until the item is tried on, either at home or in the retailer’s fitting room. 70 percent of customers who use the fitting room buy.

To be a successful and profitable brick and mortar apparel retailer their fitting rooms and their fitting room service strategy must be the focus of their in-store customer experience. C.Wonder understands this, obviously.

Liz Crawford
BrainTrust

The music is a great, fun novelty. But from a practical standpoint, the choices of lighting are most useful. In fact, different kinds of lighting would be even better along with indicators such as “Office,” “Daylight,” “Home.” and “Evening.”

The “Help” button reminds me of the call light in airplane seats. Again, very practical. I could see that these kinds of innovations would be duplicated across many clothiers. Bravo!

Marie haines
Guest
Marie haines
5 years 3 months ago

Great ideas for fitting rooms I have seen include:

– Side lights on the mirrors that light the front of the body, versus down lights that cast unflattering shadows on the face.
– J.Jill recognized the shoppers were hooking hangers over the fitting room doors and installed a metal rail to both provide additional hanging space and protect the top of the door.
– I was in a Kohl’s recently that had 3 hooks in each fitting room. The hooks were labeled Love It, Buy It, and Back On The Rack. The only hook lacking was the one to hang up the clothes I was wearing.

The most important factors in a fitting room are adequate space, flattering lighting, large mirrors, and plenty of hooks or bars. The more comfortable you make your customer, the longer she will want to stay, try on, and buy.

Warren Thayer
BrainTrust

It sure is differentiation, and if it’s working for them, great! Years ago, when I shopped Filene’s basement in Boston for suits and such, the “dressing room” was about 20 by 20 feet, with random hooks on the walls. You went in there with everyone else, got into your skivvies and tried things on. That was also differentiation, and it worked!

Janet Dorenkott
Guest
Janet Dorenkott
5 years 3 months ago

Space and the Help button are most impressive to me. I try to get in and out of a dressing room as quickly as possible. Having enough space for my child to stay with me is important. Having the button to expedite bringing me the item in another size is important. I think the other gadgets will just break quickly and cost the store money that will eventually be passed on to the shopper.

fatima lora
Guest
fatima lora
5 years 2 months ago

It’s impressive; our Associate Editor, Alicia Fiorletta was there during the SoHo flagship. We recorded the whole thing. Makes me want to shop there! 🙂

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