A bridal shop mainly sells dresses and accessories to brides-to-be and members of the bridal party. These businesses also offer alteration services so everyone can get the perfect fit. Some bridal shops will also sell gowns for formal occasions, such as prom, etc.
Note that these shops are different from other retail clothing shops, which carry a variety of sizes as well as colours and styles. Inventory of gowns, bridesmaid’s dresses, veils and headpieces is limited. The selection covers a wide variety of styles, but not sizes.
How Do Bridal Shops Charge for Their Services?
If you plan to offer ready-to-wear bridal ranges, you will stock samples of perhaps two to three hundred wedding dresses, in various sizes, produced by a variety of manufacturers/ designers. Note that when a potential customer comes in, you will help her to select her ‘dream dress’, within her price range.
You can choose to charge a consultation or appointment fee for this service. Or you might only make a charge if the bride – to – be does not show up for the appointment. Have it in mind that it might take an hour or so for someone to try on between four and six different styles.
However, if you want to offer customized services, you will have to first measure your clients, and then place an order with the manufacturer for the appropriate size. It is likely to require some alteration, so that it fits perfectly, so it is important to make it clear to the customer whether or not the price includes alteration.
Also note that customized dresses may take several months to arrive so it is imperative to make sure that it will be ready in time for the wedding before you place the order. In addition, to cater for the growing number of couples who want to get married quickly, you might consider holding in stock some popular ranges in the most requested sizes.
Some bridal wear shops charge a ‘rush cut fee’ for orders placed less than three months before the wedding day. You can also decide to ask for a non – refundable charge if a customer asks you to reserve a particular gown that you’ve got in stock while she makes up her mind. If she places an order for the dress you would set the amount she’s already paid against the cost of the outfit.
Knowing exactly what you have in inventory, what should be in inventory based on your accounting and point of sale system and where you can get your inventory helps you manage your bridal shop more efficiently and grow a successful business.
5 Steps on How to Get Inventory for a Bridal Shop
A typical day in a bridal shop will likely involve being on the sales floor as much as possible and researching new trends in formal fashion. Owners will also have to spend time on basic administrative duties, marketing, and stocking merchandise.
Owners should ideally have experience in retail before getting started. They should be organized and have a knack for managing people and tricky situations. Here are few steps to take when sourcing inventory for a bridal shop.
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Start the Business
Just like any business, to run a bridal shop you need the appropriate licenses such as your seller’s permit and your business license. The process to get them varies depending on where you live. Make sure to check your state and city websites for more information.
Bridal shop owners will also need to account for their inventory, rent/ mortgage, and insurance costs. They will also need to take into account the staff salaries as well as ongoing marketing costs and acquisition of new designers.
Define Your Purchasing Strategy
After seeing to the basic needs of starting your bridal shop, you then have to decide if you want to use domestic or overseas designers. Normally, buying bridal accessories from overseas manufacturers entails that you will pay less.
However, it also generally means that you will have to buy in larger quantities, have more issues with communication and have to deal with the logistics of shipping from overseas. Meanwhile, working with domestic designers means you will have to pay more, but will have better lines of communication and it will be easier to manage quality control.
Have it in mind that finding trusted suppliers requires evaluating multiple options until you decide who is right for you. If you are someone who prefers touching and feeling during the buying process, then you should consider trade shows or approaching the manufacturers directly.
Wholesale, online marketplaces are a good way of finding merchandise. You can shop dozens of vendors at the same time without leaving your office.
However, if you are seeking physical, brick and mortar marketplaces, LA Fashion District and San Pedro Wholesale Mart (for fast fashion items) are wonderful sourcing choices if you live in Southern California or can travel there. Howbeit, the most popular trade shows for fashion and lifestyle are:
- Magic Las Vegas,
- Project Las Vegas,
- Dallas Market Center,
- Fame New York,
- Stylemax (Chicago),
- AmericasMart Atlanta,
- Accessories The Show (New York and Las Vegas),
- NW Trend Show (Seattle),
- OffPrice (Las Vegas and New York).
Visit the Manufacturer
After you must have found your manufacturing supplier, it is advisable to visit them before you start ordering as it will allow you to check the quality of your future inventory. Note that even though you may have talked with them on the phone or sent hundreds of emails back and forth, it is always best to talk face to face with the people who are making your products.
Store your Inventory Properly
Also note that one very crucial aspect of getting inventory for a bridal shop is to know how to store it once you have it. If you are well organized and know the proper way to store your inventory, it can both help your company’s efficiency and reputation.
However you choose to make it happen, remember that you are selling not just a pretty gown, but an entire experience. People who do well in this business are not only hard workers willing to take on a variety of roles, but also uniquely talented in their ability to put an overwhelmed bride’s mind at ease.
Despite the surge in popularity, most people still prefer the personal interaction of shopping in a store. Note that offering people a one-stop shop in their town is a great way to cut through the confusion and frustration of shopping for a special dress online.
Not only is it completely impersonal to buy from a faceless buyer on a website, it also takes some of the magic away from the dress.