By Paul Pannone
In a continuing story about the changing factors determining the success or failure of businesses today, eWedNewz watches business owners from another time faltering. Unable to make the necessary adjustments most say they’re stumped in what to do and how dramatically business has changed in the past few years. Some that are relics from a different age might as well be from another planet– they’re destined to fail.
The relics we see are in wedding forums crying the blues instead of embracing the newZ. Many are protectionists crying foul over the onslaught of off-shore influence that is now a reality, not a passing phase.
A bold, chesty move by companies like the Limited to cater to plus size women could someday have an impact on old-thinking industries like the wedding dress business.
In the wedding dress business struggling manufacturers try to make up sales lost from retailers by opening their own stores and compete with the very people they service. An ongoing poll shows only 14% of respondents favor manufacturers opening their own retail stores, while an overwhelming number (80%) disapprove. The poll sparked discussions among industry members that suggest most business people are relics from another time and do not understand the way the game has changed.
Sources that did not want to be mentioned said the line between manufacturers, retailers and consumers are slowly but surely evaporating everyday. The sources say consumers seeking lower prices will simply wipe out the layer of overhead called a store owner and in some way deal directly with the manufacturer in the future. Meanwhile manufacturers that realize the change try to adapt to the new reality; even those who pound their chest and profess allegiance to their wholesale (retail stores) base can’t deny how strongly the trend points to the conclusion.
eWedNewz watches the actions of misguided protectionists in the dress business filling message boards with call to arms to fellow retailers. Reports say some want to petition the federal government to ban imports into the country, feeling they can no longer compete against the lower wages and technological advances of online sales that have eroded sales here in the US .
“Fat chance of that ever happening; the feds have a hard enough time with major issues involving the economy and monetary policies, why would they ever want to get into that fray?” says wedding marketer, Sheryl Davies.
The long-time wedding professional says she has seen it all over he career and has simply learned how to adapt. Davies told eWedNewz what she thinks about the newZ of David’s Bridal– a company that embraced and leveraged the power of offshore manufacturing– opening new locations in parts of Canada.
“It was bound to happen sooner or later and business owners should have been ready. Just like everything else, store owners have to stop crying about the change and reinvent themselves somehow to regain their footing,” says Davies.
Davies says she is in the throes of reinventing her publication, claiming it’s a never-ending, ongoing process. Davies and the Wedding Guide team have done an excellent job of integrating Social Media, promotions and adjunct shows to give added value to advertisers. But even Davies admits David’s Bridal is a tough nut for local retailers to crack.
In a recent story about David’s move into Canada Craig Debenham, vice-president of stores for David’s, says the chain took a good part of its 60 years of life to develop its business model.
“We are what we call a ‘ready for you’ business. A bride can find a gown in her size, her style, her colour. Instead of taking up to six months to custom-order a dress from a sample, many brides can walk in and find exactly what they want and walk out with it.”
Discussions about why David’s and other successful organizations like them connect to customers include giving fast, unconventional service to today’s consumers that don’t care about quality. According to experts most bridal salons own limited styles in the most popular sizes. Because of limited resources most must offer representation of the hottest styles created by the most reliable manufacturers. But it’s getting harder, if not impossible to do, as manufacturers tighten credit and raise demands on units to buy.
A recent discussion with several Wedding Water Cooler fashion experts said today’s shoppers (brides) are not reflected in sizes most salons carry. According to the discussion most of today’s brides are over a size 10; some as high as 16-18 or higher in plus size. Yet changes in how bridal salons work are slow to come, according to our experts.
In a recent Media Post story the Limited is taking a proactive move to give the women of plus size more options for their wardrobe. According to the story;
More than 50% of women in the U.S. are plus size, yet plus-size clothing accounts for only 19% of sales.
But in the wedding dress business many manufacturers refuse to change from their traditional methods. According to WWC fashion experts they simply do not want to spend money updating patterns and making the necessary costly adjustments to meet the changes. The sources say the changes would greatly help their retailers but they do not want this information to get out.
To that end David’s Bridal offers convenience, cheaper prices and a fast-track to selling dresses, knocking the life out of most retailers that are old and tired– or even young and tired– to be able to put up a fight. But, as eWedNewz watches, they still have time to sit in wedding message board arenas and cry foul, longing for the old days that are gone; never to return.
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