Here comes the connected bride. And this year’s model has a series of new platforms, partnerships and interactive tools to plan the wedding. For their part, retailers are trying to get data, drive engagement and get more market share in a business where an average event can easily top $30K.
Market leader David’s Bridal is leading the way this season with a new suite of planning tools that will strengthen the end-to-end experience for the bride and drive revenue for David’s. The first such tool is a wedding vision board that takes the user through a series of questions about their event plans and leads them through a wedding dress style exercise. Couples can create a custom wedding vision board by populating a customized wedding vision from day-of decor, to wedding party attire and music playlists. The vision board can be downloaded or shared with friends, family, and planners. The platform, then, is able to accommodate several different kinds of participants, and David’s Bridal continues to build its database with the results.
The second tool, an interactive wedding checklist, can be customized based on wedding date and has the ability to set up reminders and alerts around specific tasks. Lastly, with the Customized Wedding Website tool and Blueprint Registry, brides can build their own customized website and also curate their own registry with the ability to track all gifts regardless of where the items are sold.
Although the bridal business is David’s core, it is also expanding to cover more types of formal events. “Continuing to prioritize making the digital experience more seamless and frictionless, David’s Bridal wants to guide and inspire customers as they shop for prom, special events, wedding days, anniversaries, and beyond,” said Jim Marcum, CEO of David’s Bridal. “We are relentless in our pursuit of becoming the most relevant, digitally modern, and innovative company to serve today’s modern bride.”
David’s Bridal is also venturing into artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions — it recently announced its concierge bot “Zoey.” The new solution, enabled by conversational commerce solutions provider LivePerson, utilizes Apple Business Chat, which is a new product enabling businesses to connect to customers using the Messages app on Apple products.
David’s also announced new store openings in Gainesville, Fla., bringing its brick-and-mortar count to 301. The Gainesville location continues the momentum the bridal chain built in the back half of 2019 with six openings in Virginia Beach, Va.; Houston, Texas; Macon, Ga.; Union, N.J.; Buford, Ga.; and Milwaukee, Wis. A new store in Little Rock, Ark. is also set to open in late March.
Committing to Registry Platforms
Bed Bath & Beyond is also using the registry concept to bring disparate suppliers together. It new platform is called “Your Registry, Your Way” a single-source online registry that brings products, gifts and cash funds all in one place. To celebrate the occasion, Bed Bath & Beyond has released its second annual “Top 10 Wedding Registry Must-Haves” and “Wedding Registry Favorites Across the Country” infographics, which reveal its most popular items among registrants from 2019.
Macy’s is following suit, but doing it through a partnership. Zola, which has positioned itself as a one-stop shopping and registry site, is partnering with the department store chain. Engaged couples can now register for over 2,000 of Macy’s private brand and exclusive gifts across bedding, bath, tabletop, and home, directly on Zola. The integration of Macy’s most popular brands into Zola’s expansive assortment of 100,000-plus gifts, gift cards and cash funds will put Macy’s in a position to see consumer trends and sell product.
“With this collaboration, Zola is now the only other place where couples can add a curated assortment of Macy's popular private brands and exclusive product to their registry,” Macy’s said in a statement. “Couples can take advantage of Zola's registry benefits, including free shipping, a 5-star mobile app, and integration with all of Zola's free wedding websites, while shopping for Macy’s most-wanted gifts, including bedding, towels, dinnerware, serve ware, barware, and much more. The technology developed as part of this partnership allows Macy’s to fulfill the orders placed directly on Zola.”
The list of private brands launching on Zola includes: Hotel Collection, The Cellar, Charter Club, Martha Stewart Collection, Silken Slumber, Noritake and Lucky Brand Home, all created for Macy’s.
The wedding services industry encompasses all aspects of the occasion including a wide range of wedding day service providers, apparel retailers and venues. According to recent research, the number of weddings has actually dropped over the past decade due to factors such as “evolving social norms and medical advancements which enable women to safely give birth later in life.” In addition, “Extended periods of cohabitation before marriage and family planning has increasingly become the norm among young couples. As a result, the industry has experienced stifled growth over the five years up to 2019.” Despite fewer couples getting married, increasing disposable income has enabled higher spend per event. Consequently, industry revenue is expected to expand an annualized 0.8 percent to $78 billion in 2020.
As retailers create or join more platform efforts, expect their offerings to be sharper next year. The registry has become a gift to data scientists as well as the betrothed.