Phew it has been the craziest month I have ever experienced in my career in the bridal industry. With stores all over the UK & USA re-opening their doors our orders have gone through the roof. Not to mention I have been back working on the shop floor for the first time in a few years! I went 21 days straight to try to keep up with the high demand. Now that things are starting to settle down I wanted to take a look at what I have noticed and look at the new trends in brides buying habits.
The first two weeks seemed to me to be a full on rollercoaster of back to back appointments and reserve lists coming out of our ears. To then 4-5 appointments cancelling and 3 no shows in one day. To say my emotions were up and down more than the zips on the dresses is an understatement. Not to mention the return of my old friend zip finger!! (If you know you know) Despite the ups and downs we had a record month of sales sine re-opening and our staff were excelling at adapting to new procedures.
We were getting the same feed back from our wholesale customers with a record month in sales on that side of the business as well. Not letting this go too much to our head we had to make sure we were recognising the new buying trends and helping our customers where they needed it most. With lead times for brides dropping significantly. Some reporting one week notice our 48hr delivery was in demand more than ever.
No Shows or Cancellations
With full so many brides booking appointments at multiple boutiques this has then lead to an increase in ‘No Shows’ or last minute cancellations. These are so disheartening for a bridal boutique. Especially when you know you have a waiting list of brides that could have filled that slot. This increase has then lead on to the age old debate:
Should you charge for appointments?
If I charged for every time I have been asked this question in the past month I would be getting a new car lol! It is such a grey area I think in bridal. I have always in the past been very firm that charging for an appointment is a No Go. I have even put friends off booking with stores who charge in the past. However since re-opening I have done a full 180. I am still against charging out right, however taking a deposit that can be refunded if they don’t find the dress I think is a great way forward. This seems to have a positive effect on conversion rates as well as decreasing the number of ‘No Shows’. If brides know they will have to pay to book they are more likely to do the research and pick only a select number of boutiques to visit. This increases the likely hood that they will say yes to the dress.
Upgrade Your Experience
This does mean that your social media, website and marketing materials need to be on top form. Your full experience needs to be outlined in great detail on every platform possible. You need to create an experience that is unique to your local area. Go through with a fine tooth comb how exactly your brides find you. What is your google rating? Does your Instagram show your personality? Are you getting your face out there? These are all things that deep down you know you should be doing but for what ever reason you have been putting it off. Now is the time to really up your game and it truly doesn’t have to break the bank.
Over all re-opening has been crazy and there are lots to learn about the ‘new normal’. I guess the main thing I have learnt is that we are all in this together. If you are noticing something happening with your customers chances are others are noticing it too. Don’t be afraid to make friends with other boutiques and come up with ideas together. If you don’t know where to start join our Facebook community or @bridalbanter on Instagram. Just remember ‘You Got This’!