The global bridal-wear industry is projected to reach a market total of $82 billion by 2020.
It’s no doubt that the wedding business is booming – and the current wedding season is no different. But what is new is that more and more brides are trading the pomp and circumstance of going to the bridal shop with mom, sister and best friend. Instead, they are finding just what they need online. Tracking how customers use their products, whether by survey or on social media, even online retailers who weren’t previously in the business of creating bridal lines are now offering new collections and the service to go along with it to help brides get ready for the big day.
The Wedding Report’s 2015 online market study found that online wedding-dress sales were 7 percent of overall sales, and the report pointed to the increase in e-commerce as well as online and social media decision-driving as sources of that growth.
In June 2016, eBay reported a 33 percent uptick in searches for “wedding presents.” This is significant considering eBay’s sheer volume–162 million users as of January 2016. Econsultancy adds that it’s not just wedding presents people are searching for. Brides and grooms are skipping brick and mortar to find their engagement rings, attire and wedding favors online.
More than 200 million people get married in the U.S. each year, with the average wedding cost exceeding $30,000. In fact, CNN reported that couples are now spending more than ever on their big day. The average cost for New York couples getting married in Manhattan exceeds $80,000!
The bridal industry is indeed changing. According to the International Association of Wedding Industry Professionals, brides are going online in greater numbers year after year. In summer, the market for weddings is especially hot. With some brides doing everything they can do to pull off that last minute summer or autumn wedding – one that has everything of which they’ve dreamed, it’s not too late to take a look at how friendly your brand is to brides and anyone involved in wedding planning.
Customer Experience Is Everything
Everyone knows that weddings are high-touch affairs. They hold deep emotional significance and are one of life’s most cherished milestones. Even when shopping online, brides, grooms, guests and wedding planners expect instant attention, guidance in selection, personalized care and an invitation to return.
Ever watch, “Say Yes to The Dress?” If so, you know that finding just the right fit, style within the right price range is no easy feat – even in brick-and-mortar stores.
Not surprisingly, many brands struggle to meet the rigorous demands of today’s bridal and wedding consumers in the e-commerce arena, leaving customers not only empty-handed but also unimpressed. The shortcomings are often exacerbated on mobile, which increased by 5 percent in 2015 to account for 30 percent of all e-commerce sales.
How to Create a Fantastic Online Wedding Shopping Experience
1. Train Online Agents to walk in the Consumer’s Shoes. A wedding is just one day. But the memories will last a lifetime. If you are going through planning a wedding – and need to pick a look that speaks to your unique style, you’ll take a look at several styles, have multiple dresses in your shopping cart, even though you need one. You have a lot of questions to ask, and will likely abandon your current session before deciding which one to purchase. Maybe you’ll visit a physical store, or maybe you’ll come back to the computer later to poke around some more.
2. Ensure Agents Are Ready to Address Questions and Concerns As They Pop Up. Imagine what a difference you would experience if a knowledgeable customer service agent was available to chat with you – at just the time when you needed it. You might get an invitation to speak with a wedding specialist who walks you through the different styles and the feel you are going for and then helps you narrow down your choice – just as if you were right there in-person. The specialist goes on to schedule your fitting, recommends a seamstress and addresses any concerns you might have. They even offer suggestions for shoes and accessories to match.
3. Personalize the Experience. Being ready with videos, blog articles and other content – including being able to steer you in the direction of sites like WeddingWire.com or mywedding.com, which are chock full of complementary services and resources – will result in customers associating your brand with the kind of added value they’d look for if they had their own personal bridal consultant to help them plan their big day. This will pay dividends when they think back and share their experience with others in your target market.
4. Remember, You Can’t Beat Word of Mouth Advertising. Delivering a top-notch experience will drive not just one sale, but it will likely result in many thereafter. The bride who puts her trust in you will be partial to your brand and that will pay-off over and over again. She’ll likely share her experiences through positive word of mouth and social media marketing – which will boost your future sales.
Thankfully, technology now exists to make shopping online pretty much map to the in-store-experience and replicate the brick-and-mortar experience online and across different devices. No longer will customers shy away from doing everything online – the sooner they can cross the dress, the cake, the music and other important aspects of their big day off their list, the more time they’ll have to relax and look forward to the big day.