As a small business owner, growing your bridal boutique is an exciting part of your development, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. We’ve put together five expansion strategies that will help take your business to the next level
Now that your bridal retail business is thriving and customer base is booming, it may be the right moment to consider expanding. If you have achieved all the goals you originally set out, it may be time to re-evaluate what you want out of your business and establish new objectives that will help you push even more boundaries.
There are many factors that will indicate if it’s time to take your business to the next level. For example, if your business has regular profits and customers then it’s probably time to think about your next venture. Alongside this, you may often hear customers, or even friends of customers, say that they wish you had another boutique in their local area.
So, how should you go about expanding your bridal business?
One of the most obvious ways to expand your bridal business is to move into a larger property. If you find that you are quickly running out of space and your boutique has become crowded with stock now is a good time to think about relocating.
By doing so, you have the opportunity to enhance your bridal boutique’s offering. With more space, you will be able to take on those extra collections you wish you had room for before. Not only this, but you can also improve your customer’s shopping experience with the additional room.
When you do relocate it’s important to let your local community know of your new location and change your address on Google, social media and anywhere else you may be listed. Moving premises is also a great opportunity for some additional publicity, so throw a re-launch party, invite a group of local brides-to-be and wow them with your new and improved boutique.
An alternative way to expand your bridal business is to open a second boutique. This is a common expansion strategy for many retailers and an effective way to broaden your brand’s presence and target new customers.
However, many retailers have the misconception that their new business has to be an exact carbon copy of the original. While it’s important to keep your branding and processes the same, it’s also crucial to customise each boutique for your targeted area.
The easiest way to do this is to conduct local research and build a customer profile in your new location. This will not only let you know more about your new customer demographic but will also reveal things like buying behaviours, local competitors and gaps in the market that you can utilise.
Another thing to consider when opening a second location is logistics. How will you get stock to your new boutique? Are you going to transport between the two shops or are you going to get your suppliers to ship directly to the new location? Alongside this, you also need to decide if you are going to partner with any other local business. If you currently outsource things like your seamstresses you may need to do some research to see if this will be possible in your new location.
Another way to expand your bridal retail business is to enhance your offering. If you currently only specialise in one area, it may be time to think about developing this. For example, if you only carry wedding dresses it may be a good idea to introduce a bridesmaid’s line, mother of the bride collection or occasionwear. If you already offer all of this, then think about expanding to accessories, shoes or even gifts.
By doing this, you are growing your customer base and in-time your profits. Not only this, but you also increase your chances of repeat business. For many bridal retailers, your key product is something a customer will only require once, however, if you offer alternative goods they may return to your business for other occasions in the future.
If you are cautious about introducing a new product, then partnering with other local business is a great way to overcome this.
For example, if you are a retailer that only sells bridalwear and were thinking about expanding to menswear, find a local business that already sells this. Ask if you can carry some of their stock (maybe sample sizes) as test products and see how they do. This way you can assess how the product fits with your business without the risk of the initial investment.
This strategy is wonderful due to the fact that your associated business has already established itself in the market, meaning you will be able to utilise both customer bases.
Expanding your bridal retail business doesn’t have to be on a large scale. Many retailers tend to gravitate towards the larger strategies as they think they will see more return. However, this isn’t always the case and smaller tasks could actually make substantial changes to your business.
For example, investing in market and customer research is a fantastic way to get a better insight into your clients. Once you have a deeper understanding you will be able to tailor your offering to better suit the needs of your customers (i.e. pricing structure, selection of stock and additional services you offer) which in turn, will grow your bridal retail business.
Although you may have done something similar to this prior to setting up your boutique, it’s always sensible to revisit this task to ensure your findings are still accurate.
There are many agencies you can hire to conduct your market and customer research for you, but if you are on a budget, there are also ways you can do it yourself. The best ways to do this is through customer surveys, reviews, in-depth interviews, focus groups and even through your sales records.
To conclude, if you are thinking about expanding your bridal business it’s essential to scale sustainably rather than just for the sake of it. Alongside this, remember that you may not immediately generate revenue within the first few months. Due to this, you need to ensure that this expansion is something your business will be able to handle and your capital will be enough to cover you until such times that you see a return on investment.
For more business advice like this, take a look at our article ‘Brides and Discounts: What Should You Do?’