Our new series, Your Problems, Our Solutions, sets out to solve real issues facing the industry with help from our experts. This month: the WED2B effect and the sale rail….
“We keep and sell from our sale rail all year round, although when new samples arrive, it’s helpful to free up space and cash by holding sale events and releasing lots of these ex-samples in one go. We run two sample-sale days each
year, which have always proved to be very successful.
“However, in the last twelve months we have struggled to maintain the footfall on sale days in comparison to previous years. Has the ‘WED2B effect’ prevented brides from attending sale events in boutiques? And if this is the case, what can we do to encourage them back?”
From Rebecca Baddeley of The Dressing Rooms
“I’m going to hold my hands up here and be honest: WED2B has not impacted my business at all. However, a long time ago I made a firm decision never to have a sale in-store, because I felt this both devalued the dresses I was selling and it devalued my business.
Consider an outlet store
“Instead, I opted for a dedicated outlet store where I sell off my ex-samples. Here I’m still able to make a profit on them (albeit a smaller one, of course) and I also buy in stock to sell them at under £1,000. This business model breaks even after all costs and overheads are taken in, but is the oil on the cogs that keeps my business moving.
“In fact, brides who shop at WED2B actively visit my outlet store. Once they’re in, we’ve got them hooked on our service! Brides come in expecting a sale dress, but now they get all the trimmings of a full price gown, so free storage, payment plans, and in-house alterations are a given to ensure that we are still offering the bride something that WED2B can’t. You can still make money on accessories and alterations.
“While some may think this doesn’t make good business sense, I disagree. What doesn’t make good business sense is hanging on to ex-samples, letting them clog up your rails with nasty red labels all over them, devaluing your whole brand. Cash in the bank and keeping your stock current does make good business sense; it enables you to buy into new collections, thus keeping any future would be brides engaged, as it were.
Know your customer
“However, for those who sell off the rail in-store, there are still many things you can do to maintain footfall and actively encourage your brides to shop with you. Social media must be current, daily and targeted. Know your customer and your area. Talk about price when brides book with you; this seems taboo in the bridal industry and always comes back to the Pretty Woman moment, but it’s all about how you phrase it. Asking a bride, when booking, ‘Do you have a budget we need to be respectful of?’ is a lovely way of saying ‘What can you afford?’.
“When a bride mentions a budget you can’t accommodate on your normal stock, point her to your sale dresses before she comes in for her appointment, but do not give them labels such as ‘discontinued’ or ‘ex-samples’. Explain that they are beautiful dresses at a fraction of the usual price – because you don’t have space on your rails for them.
“Have a dedicated page on your website for these dresses. Put the prices on – brides on a budget need to know what to expect price-wise before they visit, because they don’t want to be embarrassed. Take every opportunity in store to sell sale dresses, if it fits and you want it gone, suss out your bride and see if she would consider buying the sample. If you’re offering your usual fabulous service, why wouldn’t she?
“For millennials, it’s all about the experience – they expect and demand this from us regardless of money changing hands. It can be like walking on ice, but ultimately we have the upper hand over WED2B because they simply can’t offer our quality service. Nor do they have our expertise, and that is where we can win, every time.”