How Bridal Retailers Win with Online-to-Offline Experiences
Weddings are a big business; a $72B market in the US and $300B globally (IBISWorld, 2016). The pre-wedding shopping experience is an integral part of that business. Whether it’s shopping as a couple for an engagement ring, spending an afternoon with the wedding party to decide on a wedding dress or groomsmen’s suits, or simply choosing that special gift, shoppers expect high touch service in-store—something that an online retailer just can’t do.
However, there are headwinds in this market. Disruptors like Rent The Runway, Blue Nile and Diamond Foundry are making online a key part of all shopping experiences. With a larger shift in spending toward experiences over products themselves, today’s bride and groom also have more choices. Millennials are getting married later, and have more disposable income to spend. In this increasingly competitive market, bridal retailers must invest in creating differentiated store experiences to elevate customer lifetime value.
At Brickwork, we have a handful of Jewelry and Luxury Fashion customers that offer in-store services in the Bridal category. We dove into the data and surfaced a few insights that our customers have discovered about the Bridal shopper.
They start online
92% of retail is still done in brick & mortar, but shoppers now start their path to purchase online (New York Times, 2018). 64% of brides use Pinterest to find inspiration (Brides, 2014). For one Brickwork customer (an engagement ring retailer) driving more traffic into store consultation experiences meant recognizing the full buying journey of ring shoppers. After identifying that these shoppers spent most of their time on product detail pages during their online research phase, this retailer placed digital calls to action for personalized store appointments strategically on all of these pages. As a result, 60% of all store appointments now come from these PDP pages (rather store pages or the home page). If you don’t have in-store appointments that can be discovered and booked online throughout the customer journey, you risk falling behind.
They spend more time in the store
Looking across Brickwork’s customer base, bridal appointment lengths exceed all others, with most bookings lasting between 1-2 hours. This gives retailers a chance to create a lasting connection with the brand and increase lifetime value. These shoppers often enter the shopping experience with a gang of loyal friends and family—bridesmaids, groomsmen…parents. So as a bridal retailer, carve out time for these special occasions and make the experience special for all involved.
They convert at higher rates
When a customer with “offline intent” can raise their hand to demand a differentiated experience in-store while simultaneously telling the store more about what their intentions are, they convert at higher rates. This is especially true with a Bridal shopper, who expects white glove service and personalized attention. On average, we see a 3-4x improvement in store conversion rate above average for these shoppers—a powerful metric. Make sure you are measuring the results of your appointments and capturing the improvements in conversion rates over time.
They spend more
This might be obvious because of the high price points in the engagement ring and wedding apparel categories. We found that a bride spends roughly 80% of the average American’s annual “apparel and services” expenditure in one fell swoop (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016 / The Knot Annual Survey, 2017). But even at stores with relatively even price points, we see dramatic increases when the customer is ushered into an in-store experience like a ring consultation, partly due to the store experts being better prepared. For one retailer, their Average Order Value per visit for customers who booked an appointment online was over 18x the average walk-in. Overall, these customers are clearly worth more to you than the average walk in. Make sure you have the right technology to capture the rich data to find more like them in your marketing efforts.
Shopping for one’s wedding is an entirely unique experience on its own, and it is up to the retailer to enhance this experience. Simply offering appointments and services to brides and grooms is insufficient. Today’s bridal retailer needs to meet the customer where they are, provide an engaging, luxurious customer experience online, while arming associates with information about shoppers before they enter the store. The pre-wedding shopping experience is nearly as special as the big day, and retailers that understand that will reap the benefits in their brick and mortar stores.