Organising a wedding has traditionally always been a physical shopping experience. As brides need to try on their wedding gowns, grooms attend their suit fittings and tasting sessions before you choose your wedding breakfast, shopping for a wedding has remained mainly offline. But with new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world?
Online sales have continued to thrive as shoppers are enjoying making purchases from the comfort of their own homes. In the last twelve months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017. The question remains, what does this mean for wedding suppliers? Here, Angelic Diamonds, a retailer of unique solitaire engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings discuss whether it’s time for the industry to plunge into the digital world in order to survive.
Wedding planning and the internet
As retailers turn to online platforms to keep their businesses afloat – does the wedding industry have to do the same?
With having an abundance of stores online, digitalization has already had a huge influence on the wedding industry. With social media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, brides and grooms can find so much inspiration for their big day with just a few clicks. Modern couples are now using new technology when wedding planning. In fact, 42% of people use social media to plan their wedding – with 41% of brides following photographers on social media, 37% of brides following venues and 14% following florists.
6 out of 10 brides are planning their weddings through their handheld devices according to The Huffington Post: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011) and search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011).
Social media is also used in the wedding planning process as an inspiration tool. The social media apps provide a platform for wedding planners, venues, florists and other wedding suppliers to showcase what they have to offer. Instagram and Pinterest, which is used by 64% of brides, have now become a couple’s go-to platform for all their inspiration, a digital alternative to a wedding fair. Suppliers who have not yet invested time into creating a social media profile for their business could be missing out on free exposure.
Social media’s involvement with the big day doesn’t stop at the planning stage either – when asked, over a quarter of today’s modern couples (27%) said they would create a hashtag for their special day.
Will the wedding industry survive offline?
Fortunate for the wedding industry, it appears that they are able to survive offline and will continue to do so in the future. Whilst it is likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage to stay up to date with the latest technologies and keep their head in the game, there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.
As shopping for a wedding is such a physical process that requires products to be experienced before they are purchased, the industry would certainly struggle to operate solely online. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries, and there is a reason for that; whilst modern couples use social media for visual inspiration, wedding fairs are still a great way for suppliers to engage face-to-face with potential customers. For most people, their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives so it’s important that they can speak face-to-face with suppliers, and physically see what they have to offer.
Wedding fairs are one example of how shopping for the big day can allow brides to start to see their wedding come together. Nowadays, and in the future, there is no escaping the fact that the industry will embrace digital platforms – and couples will use these platforms as a source of inspiration and help ease the planning process. However, the industry is not yet ready to wipe out all traditional methods of wedding planning. There’s no question that there is still a demand for the physical processes. Maybe, it’s just time for suppliers and other industry professionals to use digital as a means to extend their business and gain more exposure.