The Impact of COVID-19 on Wedding Dress Shops
In recent days, we have seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior because of the onset of the Coronavirus. Being in retail, you have all likely experienced a heavy rate of appointment cancellations, and you are probably left wondering what to do. Not to fear! Today, we are going to talk about what to do today, and what to be ready for, so that your bridal shop can make the most out of this negative situation.
Before we get into what you need to do today, let’s look at the silver lining. When the virus is contained, there is going to be a massive influx of brides-to-be looking to purchase their wedding gowns. So as a store owner, you have two options:
- Shut down the store. Hope everything gets cleared up soon. Resume the status quo
- Strengthen your online presence, your online reputation, your appointment generating mechanisms, and prepare for growth
The point is, you are one of these types of owners. For the owners that fall in category #1, you should not be surprised when you’re significantly down (revenue-wise) this year compared to years prior. For the owners that fall in category #2, you can use this challenge as an opportunity to grow and expand your business, and drive revenue throughout the rest of the year. Let’s talk about how.
First things first, let’s talk about your online reputation. Brides search for wedding dress shops on Google when they are preparing to make appointments. If you’re sporting a lackluster 3 star rating, you’re getting overlooked. You are not even getting brides to take the next step and look into your website/social media, the journey stops for you here. So what can you do?
The absolute best way to deal with a negative reputation online is to drive a significant amount of positive reviews. Use this period of downtime to construct a nice email that you can send to your previous customers kindly asking them for a review. If you make it easy enough for them (i.e., you give them a direct link to your Google my business ‘Write a Review’ page), then they will do it. Email comes with its own drawbacks (low open rate, promotional inbox filtering, etc.), so you can also craft up a nice text message and use the same link described above to request a positive review from your clients.
Not sure how to go about sending out these texts? Sign up for a free Google voice account, and effortlessly send text messages from your computer, tablet, or phone.
Your goal should be to have at least a 4.5 star rating on Google.
Second, it is time to revamp your website. Since your store is likely not getting the traffic it normally does, your website is the only window into your store’s identity. You have to think that people have significantly more free time at this moment, so it’s time to give them some content to consume! What better content for a bridal shop owner than the hundreds of designer dresses you have access to?
Here are some basic tips to consider when going about your website revamp:
- Go Mobile. If it’s not mobile-friendly, it’s broken. It’s 2020 and most people browse online using their smartphones. If you’re not portraying your store in an impressive way for mobile, then you are losing the game.
- Go Secure. It is absolutely imperative that you have a secure, ‘HTTPS’, website. Google literally tells your customers that your site is not secure and their information can be stolen by attackers if you do not. Make sure that your website has an SSL certificate, today.
- Content is Key! Add your designers’ styles to the website! This will give your potential customers a significant source of content to go through in this period of downtime. Do not make it all about your store (a brochure of your hours and phone number). Give your brides the information they want! Show all of the designer collections on your own website. If you’re linking out to the designers, you’re doing it wrong.
- Prominently display ‘Book an Appointment’ and your phone number on every page. Make it very clear to your customers that if they see something they like, or something they are interested in, they should A.) book an appointment or B.) call you.
Shameless plug while we’re here — SYVO offers a free trial of our website design services. Contact us today for more information.
Third, get social! Instagram usage has almost doubled in the past week. This is a tremendous opportunity for you to engage with your brides. Remember! There is going to be a massive influx of brides that want appointments when this is all said and done. Make their choice easy by engaging with them on social media!
Here are some tips to consider your Instagram presence
- Acknowledge the problem at hand, and post about what you’re doing to address it (Talk about your cleaning practices, Virtual appointments, Private appointments)
- Showcase gown(s) of the week
- Start a contest
- Post 3 times a day to your feed, and as many times as possible to your stories
- Be creative.
Remember everyone, Content is key. The more engaged you can get your customer-base, the more likely they are to come to you when this is over!
Lastly, we strongly encourage you to offer virtual appointments. Virtual appointments are appointments that take place using meeting software over the internet. You can check out our guide here. Virtual appointments are a great way to engage your customers, and significantly increase the chance they will buy from you when this is all said and done.
As the old saying goes, when life gives you lemons.. Make lemonade! Now, more than ever, you have got to hang in there and make the best of the situation. Just remember, you are not the only one going through this, and everything is going to be OK. Stay strong.