Does your washroom sparkle?

April 29, 2013 / By

I recently attended the presentation hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Asia Pacific Real Estate Association titled “My retail is better than yours”. One of the speakers, Adrian Lee, the CEO of Champion REIT, brought up an interesting topic … toilets. He commented that one of his shopping centres, Langham Place, had the cleanest toilets in Mongkok.

There is little doubt that there will come a time when you are walking along the street and urgently need to pop into a washroom. If we wait, we would definitely choose somewhere clean, such as a hotel or a large shopping centre, because we have a gut feeling that the washrooms in these places will generally be cleaner than public toilets.

When I was in London, one pleasant surprise while shopping in Knightsbridge, was the visit to the luxurious washrooms at Harrods. Not only are the toilets there clean, but also you can use such famous brand-name products such as Chanel perfume and Dior hand lotion, free of charge. Don’t underestimate how a clean toilet can attract customers; I swung by the macaroon counter in Harrods a couple of times after using their washrooms.

Not only can washrooms improve customer flow, but also they can have an impact on the shopper’s overall experience. I have a friend who told me about a terrible washroom in a high-end shopping centre where the flush was not working, there was no toilet paper or hook on which to hang her handbag, and the floor was sticky and slippery. She said it was just like another yoga session as she tried to balance and stay focused in a small cubicle. For her, the experience was unforgettable and she is definitely never going back to that shopping centre.

Women are especially sensitive when it comes to the cleanliness of a washroom and I am prepared to go out of my way to find a clean toilet. Very often, if we see a dirty washroom in a restaurant, it creates such a bad impression that we immediately worry about the state of the kitchen, regardless of how good the food is. So, dirty washrooms can really turn people right off.

In today’s competitive environment, retailers and shopping centre owners use different tactics to attract customers – some expanding in order to increase coverage and some organising tours to attract Mainland Chinese shoppers. However, cash-rich Mainland Chinese are climbing up the value chain and are looking not only for products, but also for the whole shopping experience. A great shopping experience is one of the main factors that will bring customers back again and again. A small detail like clean washrooms can really enhance a shopper’s experience. It also demonstrates how caring and thoughtful a store owner/shopping centre is. So, make your washroom sparkle.


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