Laura Daly looks at the advantages of keeping – or trying to keep – all parts of the retail equation balanced…
And, boom, there it is… another year gone and somehow we’ve found ourselves in the brave new world of 2020. Except that, as we all know, we will still be haunted by the same old bridal retailing problems of previous years unless we can agree to change things for the better.
For me, the biggie this year has been quality control and what happens when there’s a problem with a dress. I’m delighted to say that the companies I deal with directly have taken on board my (admittedly, sometimes lengthy) feedback on this point, and have been forward-thinking enough to modify their policies to help us to help our brides. For this, I am extremely grateful.
However, from my conversations with many other retailers, it’s clear that there are plenty of manufacturers who maybe need a gentle nudge and some convincing in this matter.
It’s no secret we retailers have to put the bride first. Any self-respecting in-for-the-long-haul bridal retailer must have this mindset. To survive the onslaught of abuse thrown at us when supplier-related quality issues arise, we do whatever it takes to make our customer happy. We often have to sort out failed zips, missing buttons, broken button loops, missing appliqués, wobbly beads; all at our expense, while hoping that we will be able to persuade our supplier to pay the seamstress bill at some point in the future.
There can be lengthy discussions with someone in customer service; these poor souls bear the brunt of our frustration, but often can only quote us the party line of “you shouldn’t have touched it, we needed to see it first” or “she wore it, so it must have been okay”.
Manufacturing faults can rear their heads, before or during fittings or even on the wedding day. When they do, believe me, time is of the essence. That problem needs to be dealt with swiftly and without argument. Don’t forget that this dress is of huge emotional importance for the customer and when a button pings off or a zip gives way, it isn’t a triviality to her.
For us to keep our customer happy, we need support from the supplier in fixing these issues immediately. If we say the zip wasn’t too tight but gave way on the first try, please believe us. Help us resolve the problem; send us a new zip and pay our seamstress to replace it – or take the dress back and fix it yourself – swiftly. And, if you do this, please check it before you send it out again… don’t tell us it’s sorted and return it in a worse state than when we sent it to you. Unfortunately, this happens from time to time.
The retailer is on the front line. It’s the retailer’s name that gets dragged through the social media mud when there’s a problem. It just shouldn’t happen when the problem stems from bad production. Having to tell an upset bride that we need to send the dress back to the manufacturer for them to decide whether or not something will be done simply doesn’t work. We just need to be able to say with confidence that it will be rectified right away.
Of course we understand that you may need to see the dress to feedback a quality issue to your factory, but the first priority must be a prompt resolution for the bride. Please believe us when we say your product has let us down. We aren’t making things up for the hell of it, and neither are our customers. We know the dress fitted properly, that the she didn’t put on weight and we’re sure she didn’t attempt to plank on the bar whilst drinking tequila shots.
Admittedly, it’s up to us to ensure that we have limited liability written into our contracts of sale so as not put ourselves in the position of having to compensate any more than the retail price of the dress. But, if you have sold us faulty goods it is not unreasonable for us to expect you to foot the bill for any refund.
Ask a retailer if, given the choice, they’d prefer a marketing course, a night in a hotel, a free dinner, branded dress bags and a poster for the window, or a speedy no-quibble resolution to any problem. I think you can guess what the answer may be.
If you want to keep your good accounts and your retailer loyalty, please offer your support and back-up. Work with us, not against us… Fingers crossed for a good 2020 all round!