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Buying digitally this season

Ruth Larkin gives her top tips on effectively buying digitally with the ’Covid bride’ in mind.

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So, show season might not have started off as planned, but just like the world right now, everything is evolving to a new way of doing business and a new way of living. We aren’t solely going back to how things were in business before this year. We are all moving forward into a new way of operating, and once we learn to accept that this is the reality, then there are so many opportunities available for us to enhance our businesses. Brides will continue to fall in love and say ‘Yes’, and we will find our place in this new evolved world of weddings. Now more than ever we must be positioned to quickly flex and pivot in our businesses and start using the digital realm to our advantage.

While the Harrogate Bridal Show may have been cancelled in line with health and safety guidelines, the season is only beginning. The new collections are all available and your opportunity to choose the right styles to ensure you are best positioned going forward remains. Bridal Buyer’s Virtual Showroom (launching early October) will give you the opportunity to view the collections in an easy to use digital platform.

Choosing new collections this season is all about choosing new opportunities and generating new business. Never has it been so imperative to make sure every pound you invest is done with a considered and strategic plan behind it. This season it is all about ‘smart purchasing in the digital age’, and ensuring you set your business up for success going forward. The world around us has changed. Brides buying behaviours and needs have changed and so to evolve alongside this, you need to change your buying habits to reflect the new market. Set yourself, your business, and your team up for success by using the digital tools to your advantage to choose the right collections for the season ahead.

Embrace the change

Get analytical and dig into your statistics. Assess what stock has been generating the most high-volume re-orders in-store. You might have this information at the touch of a button, and if not then now is the right time to start tracking and assessing this data to help you with ‘smart purchasing’ going forward. Consider the post-lockdown appointments and engagement, how has your bride and her buying behaviours changed? Have you seen a change in the average size, have you seen a change in the average budget, has the style of wedding changed, has the average timeline changed? What about dress style, silhouette, and fabric, what are the requests you are hearing from brides booking appointments for the coming months?

At the moment, there is a surge in demand from brides who are deciding to go ahead with their weddings sooner than normal and who are taking advantage of venue opportunities. Are you positioned to support brides with short wedding dates in the seasons to come, and working with suppliers with ample available stock?
There has been a supposed increase of engagements across Europe of 150% during Covid. With venues already limited in 2021, you can expect an increase in alternative style locations such as garden party, vineyard, barn and beach weddings, can you cater to that bride and her needs or do you need to add particular styles to speak to these new location needs.

Understanding the digital buying process

This season brings with it a new way of doing business and offers the invaluable opportunity to review collections digitally. With the uncertainty of shows already a concern for brands earlier this year, most considered and adjusted their new collection presentations accordingly. Not only should you be able to receive high quality, digital showbooks of the collections, but also videography so that you can best see and experience each gowns movement and appearance properly. Having analysed your in-store results, you will better understand the silhouettes, styles, fabrics and sizes you must have for the season ahead. So, as you review the collections digitally, prioritise your selection to meet these needs. Consider an app or platform such as BuyerPix to help support you in compiling your collections digitally, quickly analysing your chosen styles and giving you a full overview on size, colour, silhouette, budget etc. so you can assess how your selection is comparing to your key needs along with letting you easily store and compile your collection imagery, invoices and details to sync to your systems easier.

This digital season is also a fantastic opportunity to let your team give you their thoughts and feedback on the styles based on their first-hand knowledge of working with the brides. Their up-to-date insight can be invaluable to ensure the most commercial choice of styles. Their insight could be the difference in choosing a good gown or a great gown, and this season there is only space for great, commercial, volume styles on your rack that suit your clientele. It can also be a great team building and fun training opportunity together in store, creating some real excitement and much needed positivity for the season ahead.

It’s a stressful time with so much uncertainty, so exposing your team to the buying and making them feel like they are contributing to the stabilisation and success of your business in the seasons ahead, can also give them a sense of stability and confidence that they need. A confident, positive and energised team will excel in sales with the right gowns, so involving them in the collection choices can really enhance performance.

Preparing your business for buying

If you can prepare your ‘smart purchasing’ approach this season forearmed with the knowledge as it relates to your business with these 3 points you are setting yourself up for much greater success.
1. Understand your top volume styles and why they work for your brides
2. Assess your new brides’ requirements and requests, and any changes in the average sizes, prices, styles etc.
3. Listen to industry statistics, local influences and potential impacts to best gauge how this will affect your bride and her buying behaviours in the coming season

Make a list of your key suppliers based on suitable styles, price, quality, reliability, available stock, delivery times. Trust and relationships are key in business, coming out of these difficult Covid times, brands that have stood with you throughout the hard times will also support you back into the good times. Before Bridal Buyer’s Virtual Showroom goes live this October, analyse the new ‘Covid bride’ and carry out brand research to maximise your time/budget. This way you’ll know what you are looking for when you access the Virtual Showroom and view the collections. Trust your understanding of your unique customer, your sales statistics and your assessment of what to expect in this new evolved season. Utilise this to make sure your purchases meet the varying needs of your brides and your business. Your due diligence will pay off and you can pick your collections with confidence, with knowledge and with insight – that’s ‘smart purchasing’.

Importantly, embrace the digital resources and shows available to you, it will make the buying experience more enjoyable this season!

Details on Bridal Buyer’s Showroom will be available shortly. Make sure you are signed up to the Bridal Buyer newsletter to be the first to access the login information.

If you would like tailored support on any aspect of improving your business model and performance, contact salesacademy@larkbridal.com

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