Top bridal retailers share their opinions on taking their business digital
Earlier this month, Bridal Buyer featured the article ‘Making Tax Digital: Is Your Bridal Business Ready?’ in which Tim McKee from retail management system, BridalLive talked about how the software could help your bridal business with the new digital tax laws.
Following this, we asked the industry how they felt about the new tax law changes and moreover how they have adapted to this new digital age.
Anna from Pure Brides in Norwich has been running her accounts digitally for several years and has welcomed every new element of digitalisation with open arms. “Digital modernisation has been fundamental to the success of my bridal business. Everything is done online with my business, including appointment booking in real-time via my website,” she adds.
“My business uses software such as BridalLive, Xero, ReceiptBank, Excel and Google docs. There are many benefits to having this online software, but, real-time numbers, including sales figures, outstanding supplier invoices and balances due are to name a few.”
When asked if any part of her business remained offline Anna said, “We still keep paper copies of our bride’s order, but only because we still currently have to use a PDQ machine to take payments and need to know which customers the receipts belong to.”
“Aside from this, I still keep some records on spreadsheets. I’ve always loved a spreadsheet so admittedly I’ll still keep a few to track my essential numbers and how we’re performing against our targets,” she adds.
When asked if she had any advice for bridal retailers who have not made the move to digital, she says, “If you’re going to make your entire business digital then you need to embrace it wholeheartedly. You must gain an understanding of each platform and seek advice before committing to a specific software or marketing campaign.”
However, digital modernisation has not been welcomed with open arms by all. Rebecca from TDR Bridal in Halesowen admits that she struggled with the new technology at first. “In the last two years, I have personally struggled to find time for all of this new technology. We have had struggles with social media, our website, payroll and accounts. You name it, we’ve had it. Going digital has brought many challenges with it, but now, looking back, it has all been for the greater good,” she adds.
“In the last three to five years digital modernisation has changed considerably and it has become crucial to keep up to date and constantly evolve in all aspects of your business. To deal with this, here at TDR Bridal we have moved the majority of our business online,” adds Rebecca.
“Our entire ordering system is online, along with all of our accounts, tax affairs, diaries, staffing organisation, and marketing. To help with this we use BridalLive and QuickBooks. We have just recently moved from Sage Cloud as we felt the software was not user-friendly nor quick enough for this industry.”
Despite hesitation at the beginning, this new online business model seems to be a great success for Rebecca and her boutique. “The main benefits of having so much of our business online is speed and accessibility,” says Rebecca.
“Our order process time has reduced dramatically, freeing up time for key members of staff to be more proactive in other aspects of the business. Our customer care and our bride’s experience has been enhanced and feedback comes directly to us so that we can change and adapt as necessary to suit each brides’ individual needs.”
“On top of this, we also have up to date ‘live’ information on our stock, diary and staffing needs. As if this wasn’t helpful enough, we also know immediately if there is a problem with a discontinuation list, meaning we can be proactive with selling off ex-samples. These online softwares allow us to know every profit margin on every label and soon we will be introducing an extra widget so that we can merge this profit margin with our stock purchases so we have a tangible ‘hold’ on our return on investment.”
When asked about her plans for, ‘Making Tax Digital’, Rebecca informed us that, “the new tax laws are being dealt with by our accountant, so it won’t affect us too much. We have always used the government gateway for payroll, PAYE and VAT but we have now handed that over to our accountant, taking the pressure off us directly so we can focus on all of the other digital stuff.”
Read More: Your Guide to End of Year Taxes
As a new bridal boutique established back in 2018, Anna Wood Bridal in Long Buckby has only known the bridal industry as a digital one. Due to this, she was able to open her boutique with all of this information at hand.
“As I opened Anna Wood Bridal at a time when many other bridal shops were making the move to digital, I was aware that everyone was wanting everything at the touch of a button. Because of this, it was really important to me that I made sure Anna Wood Bridal was as digitally visible as possible,” says Anna.
As a result of this, every element of Anna’s bridal business is online. “For me, it’s really important that the foundations of my business are solid, as without solid foundations you can’t have success,” adds Anna.
“Our accounts and cash flow are all managed online alongside all of our marketing – expect from attending The National Wedding Show. For the customer-facing part of the business, we use BridalLive which is great for tracking literally everything! From managing stock, appointment booking and emails to placing orders with suppliers, BridalLive does it all. By using this software, my business has become more streamlined and a lot easier to run.”
Despite being an enthusiast for going digital, Anna reassures that not all aspects of her bridal business will be online. “Although we run our boutique online, we will never be completely digital. For us, the personal experience of coming to the boutique will always remain. With a significant purchase like a wedding dress, brides want to be able to touch and feel their dream gown and that is only possible in a boutique. Despite taking many parts of our boutique online, our main offering will remain and in fact, we are adding to this currently by launching something new very soon.”