Getting the trial experience right

By Philip Morton

I’m always surprised at how poor the fitting rooms are in clothing stores.

Retailers have clearly spent a significant amount of time on every detail in the main part of shops to ensure that the way clothes are presented entices you to buy and reflects their brand, yet when you go to try on clothes you’re interested in, the experience can be the complete opposite.

Fitting rooms are where customers make their decision whether or not to buy clothes, yet the space in which this happens often seems like an afterthought. So many are cramped cubicles made from substandard materials, with few places to hang up clothes or leave other items you might have with you. Customers want to feel confident about their purchase, and a poor fitting room experience undermines this decision.

Pay attention to the trial experience

As we know, being able to try a product or service greatly increases chances of conversion. Fitting rooms, game demos, wine tasting, movie trailers and car test drives are all ways to allow people to sample the experience of being a customer. If these previews are of a poor quality, then those prospects are unlikely to turn into customers.

One great example of a trial experience is in Paper, an iPad sketching app. This comes with one free pen tool and gives you the option to buy more. The dialog box for each optional tool invites you to ‘Try it!’, allowing you to draw using that tool within a small area. This is the digital equivalent of a small pad of paper next to the pen stand in a shop, allowing you to get a feeling for the tool before you buy it.

Tips for creating a great trial experience

For any product or service:

  • Provide a trial experience – this allows prospects to understand what it’s like to be a customer
  • Make the trial as good as the product – if the trial is poor quality, like a bad fitting room in a clothes shop, it reflects poorly on the brand and product, discouraging sales
  • Make it easy to go from a trial to a full product – if people want to give you their money, don’t get in their way!

Philip Morton

I help businesses create better products and services by putting customer insight at the heart of the design process. In the last six years, I've worked with the likes of Sony PlayStation, HSBC, Sega, Tesco and TSB. In that time, I've seen our research, design and strategy work improve both the experience for customers and commercial outcomes for clients.

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