The traditional idea many hold of wedding dress shopping probably revolves around a boutique bridal shop, a bride-to-be and her Mum and best friend sipping champagne and admiring the options.
And it remains the case that this is still the experience for many brides. But things are starting to change. Bridal store chain, Berketex Bride was perhaps the highest profile victim of the digital shift recently, announcing it had gone into administration after more than 50 years in November 2018.
Perhaps it is unfair to blame online shopping as the sole reason for Berketex Bride’s collapse. But it would be unrealistic to suggest the shift to online shopping in bridal doesn’t have a part to play.
Online Wedding Dress Shopping
You can buy wedding dresses on Amazon. And for under £50 if you’re really on a budget. And with money tight for so many, the option of going into a high end boutique where you could easily spend four or five figures on the perfect dress simply isn’t an option.
There’s more choice online. The average age of a woman getting married in the UK today is 30.8 years. In 2019, Amazon will turn 25. In other words, there’s a significant chance that average bride of today has been shopping online her entire adult life.
So Can Offline Bridal Boutiques Compete?
We still see increased searches for “bridal shop near me,” according to Google Trends:
And as we increasingly use our mobile devices to find local businesses, there’s an opportunity here for bridal shops to capitalise, particularly independents who can be agile, who can often find ways to lower overheads and so on.
And make no mistake, many brides will still want the whole experience – to shop offline and make that experience a part of their day.
But in an age when even offline shoppers research online first, Bridal Boutiques would arguably be very wise to consider an online presence too, even if it is just a shop window rather than a full blown ecommerce experience. And with that should come some sort of online marketing strategy, whether it’s local social advertising, SEO, paid search or digital PR.
Simply existing as a shop is unlikely to be sufficient in the long term to keeps a bridal boutique booming.