In an attempt to slowly check off items on my wedding to-do list (I’m getting married in 2015) I found myself shopping for the most expensive piece of clothing I will ever purchase: a wedding dress. Standing at the crowded check-in counter filling out the shop’s customer information form, I confidently wrote down my price range. My range was probably a bit lower than that of the 15 other women in the room, according to TheKnot.com’s latest U.S. survey, which lists that the average bride spends $1,281 on a gown.
In an industry that screams “once-in-a-lifetime” and calls on brides to forget looking at the price tag, I found it necessary to peruse the Web and determine an initial budget range for my dress before stepping into a store. I didn’t want to walk into my first appointment and fall in love with something I couldn’t afford.
Traditionally, the bridal industry is one that has remained focused on the brick-and-mortar store. Brides still desire that in-store experience of saying yes to the dress (thank you TLC for fostering the dream of well-lit podiums and three-tier mirrors). But the bridal industry is not immune to e-commerce. Whether buying a wedding gown online to take advantage of a huge discount, simply perusing the Internet for styles and prices or searching for the perfect store, brides are taking to the Web.
According to a recent article, David’s Bridal has latched onto increasing online engagement with brides through the IBM e-commerce solution to boost overall sales. Since launching, the company has seen a 20 percent growth in traffic year over year and pages-per-visit have increased from 20 to about 30. While the article doesn’t go into what this means for online (or in-store) sales, it does show that brides are interested in more interactive online engagement.
How will the bridal industry take further hold of e-commerce and online engagement? Are stores (unlike David’s Bridal) currently missing out on a huge marketing opportunity by maintaining that an in-store experience is necessary? Or should the industry be applauded for creating an exclusivity that requires an in-store purchase? What are the implications when a purchase that is so laden with emotion moves to the dispassionate (at least in theory) e-realm?