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Brides and Discounts: What Should You Do?

Bridal retailers are faced with customers asking for discounts on a weekly basis and many are unsure how to deal with it. We speak with bridal boutiques from across the UK and Ireland to learn how they handle this situation when it arises.

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For bridal retailers, pricing your stock is no easy task. You need to understand your market, know how much your customers are willing to pay, as well as how much your competitors are going to charge. To get this right you need to carefully deliberate, calculate and research. After all, your sales are what are going to define the success of your business.

So, what happens when your customer asks for a discount? We spoke with successful bridal retailers from across the UK and Ireland to find out how they deal with this type of situation.

Read More: How to Deal with Difficult Customers

Firstly we spoke with Kathy Kelly, owner of Abellé Bridal Boutique in County Meath, Ireland. With over nine years’ experience in the bridal retail industry, Kathy has witnessed first-hand the increase in demand for discounts and special offers.

“With an abundance of online websites selling cheaper copies of bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses it is becoming a tough environment for brick-and-mortar businesses like mine to compete,” she says.

“Due to this, we have had to adapt and offer discounts where we can. About 80% of our customers ask for a discount and this has, at times, put pressure on us. However, we will only ever offer the maximum of a 5% - 10% discount on a selection of styles. There’s not always room for a discount, but after you’ve invested time with the customer you don’t want to lose the sale.”

When asked about what advice she has for other retailers faced with similar situations Kathy adds, “Just remember to leave yourself enough leeway to give a discount, because no matter how low you price, you’ll still invariably get asked if you can do any better.”

Read More: Seven Ways to Drive More Footfall to Your Bridal Boutique

In comparison, Jo Levett from 21 Dresses in Banbury informs us that her bridal boutique rarely offers discounts. “We find that the majority of the brides that shop with us already have their mind made up that their gown is ‘The One’ and because of this they are going to buy it regardless. Sometimes a customer might ask for a discount in a cheeky, hopeful way, but they are usually prepared to be turned down,” she says.

“If there is ever any room for a deal to be made, we will usually offer 10% off accessories as a gesture of goodwill. We only offer this as it is cheaper for us to markdown accessories in comparison to an entire dress. However, not many people ask for this, and touch wood, no one has ever walked out without buying their gown because we didn’t offer them a huge discount.”

Jo adds, “If you are thinking of offering one of your customers a discount remember what the dress cost you! If the gown is popular for you then I’d avoid marking it down, but, if it’s a sample dress that has been sitting there for two years with only a few orders then discount it at a fair price. This way you clear room for new stock and still make the sale.”

Read More: How to Host a Successful Event in Your Bridal Boutique

7th Heaven Bridal in Congleton has a similar approach to offering discounts. Helen Allen, the owner of 10 years, informs us that she doesn’t tend to offer any reductions on her stock. “We are quite strict with our pricing because the cost of samples are high and VAT takes a big chunk. This means that, for us, there isn’t much room for discounts.”

“We may offer a discount on an item such as an accessory or veil which is cheaper for us but still of value to the customer. However, this is only ever done on the day as we feel that if a customer is asking for it, they should be prepared to accept and place an order right there and then,” she says.

Again, we asked Helen about her advice for other retailers and she said, “My best advice is to be open and honest about your pricing from the start. This way the price is no surprise to your customers and you are both in full agreement. We usually explain to our customers that we feel our dresses are well priced and carefully selected and because of this, it is our policy not to offer any discounts.”

Read More: My Opinion: Why I Don’t Have Sample Sales at My Boutique

Finally, we spoke with Cathy Keen from 14 & Sixpence in Taunton. She explained that she too is faced with many customers asking for discounts. However, at her store, it tends to be more for bridesmaids’ dresses as opposed to regular wedding dresses.

“At 14 & Sixpence, I get more customers asking me for reductions on my bridesmaids’ stock. Due to the demand for this, I have implemented a loyalty discount scheme. If a bride purchases her wedding dress through my boutique, I will offer discounts on either bridesmaid’s dresses or accessories,” says Cathy.

“I personally feel reluctant to offer discounts on new bridal gowns as I feel it can devalue the latest season’s stock. If we all try to stick to the suggested RRP where possible, the only way brides can get the newest gowns is through one of our fabulous bridal boutiques,” she adds.

Read More: The Best Way to Bring in More Brides

Bridal Buyer’s Top Tips for Discounts

  • Set out your business objectives- Blindly implementing discounts is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a retailer. Before offering any deductions ask yourself, ‘How will this discount benefit the business?’ Clearly defining your objectives will make it easier to decide if the sale is worthwhile or not.
  • Offer discounts on a case to case basis– Just because you offer a discount to one customer doesn’t mean you have to extend it to the rest. If you are offering a discount on sample dresses don’t feel pressured to offer the same on new season designs. This will only damage your business in the long run.
  • Keep sight of your margins ­­­­­– Before you offer any discounts on your stock it’s important to establish what you want your profit margins to be. Once this has been agreed upon, keep an eye on every discount given to make sure they don’t surpass this.

If you are thinking about offering a discount in your bridal boutique remember that the key is not to sell yourself short. Know your boundaries, set a fair price and stick to what you’ve set out.

For more business advice like this, take a look at our guide to reading your customer’s body language.

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