03212014-bride-dresses

‘Bridal Traders’ Aims to Take Brides, Looking for Dresses Online, to Local Retailers

Right now, in a nervous market, good ideas that can safeguard business will be welcomed with open arms. A new website, designed to service brides on a restricted budget, could inject confidence into the retail sector. Louisa Shulman reports

ASK ANY RETAILER what the biggest threat facing the industry is now, and the answer is always the same; internet sales.

Less money in pocket = the need for a bargain = shop around on the internet.

Couple that with the difficulties that retailers face getting rid of surplus stock and many are tearing their hair out.

The solution is so simple it seems almost ludicrous that no one has thought of it before.

Bridal Traders is a brand new website where shops can promote the sale of their example dresses, surplus stock, discontinued items and any other bridal related items that they wish to clear. The idea is to list the stock at a price that will encourage movement, so the only rule governing the site is that no item can be listed at a cost higher than £500.

The bride can’t buy the items on the site – the idea is to encourage her to go to the retail store.

The primary aim of the site is to preserve the trade of the bricks and mortar retailer by dissuading brides on a budget from buying from overseas websites that are offering to copy dresses, as well as to prevent internet-only retailers from undercutting the shops.

We know that buying online is littered with issues for the bride, not least that she has virtually no comeback when things go wrong (which they inevitably will). But those who have little to spend sometimes feel that they have no choice. Until now.

Bridal traders wants to enable these brides to transcend the financial barrier and get the dress of their dreams even with a restricted budget.

The site aims to protect the British bridal retailer and create a local wedding business community for each area through a network of local services.

So how does it work? Quite simply, the site is divided up into regions. the bride clicks on her county and can then choose the location that best suits her. She is taken to a page which displays a central featured advertisement from a bridal retailer in that area, with a link through to the items that the retailer is selling.

Also on the page, surrounding the central ad, are smaller ads from other relevant traders in the region, such as venues, florists, photographers, marquees… you get the picture. each local trader has a logo, a web link option and some information displayed.

Fees are £3 to £6 a month based on a three-month rolling program. This buys the retailer the opportunity to display 25 featured pictures of bridal items for sale, which can be interchanged across the three months as required. There is no contract or tie-in, and there are no transaction fees.

They only allow one retailer per town and about 12-15 per county, and vet their retailers to make sure they are working in a fashion that promotes the industry and avoids any internet or unwanted overseas interest.

Retailers upload the images and information to the site themselves to ensure accuracy of content and description. Each retailer has their own password and login, but the site is monitored to ensure that all retailers are genuine.

As soon as Aisle Style and their team started contacting people to explain their intentions, ears began to prick up. They sold space even before launch and had offers of support from a number of areas.

Fellow suppliers have identified this as a very good opportunity to help retailers. Obviously suppliers want to sell their new ranges to the shops, so it really is in all parties’ interests to support the project. Suppliers are asking to be featured as a recommended supplier and are ready to commit to the three-month program.

Twilight Designs has a large, established customer base and many of its retailers work hand-in-hand with associated traders, so it has been pretty easy to spread the word. “Significantly, we have secured the backing of Brides Aware, who are very happy to promote the idea and show their support. They would like to have their logo shown on our homepage. Next we will be approaching the BBSA, trade associations, retailers’ forums and consumer magazines.

Aisle Style will also be using social media avenues to promote the site.

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