Do you want to start a bridal shop from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a bridal shop business with NO money and no experience plus a sample bridal shop business plan template.
If you are one who loves weddings and have an eye for exquisite wedding dresses, then opening a bridal shop might be the best decision you would ever take, as this enterprise is not only lucrative but rewarding as well. Potential brides are always very excited about their weddings and do not mind spending a lot of money to get the bridal gowns of their dreams as well as wedding accessories.
Brides also do not mind browsing till they have found the perfect shop that not only has the gown they want but also increases their shopping experience.
As with any other business, you will need to conduct a thorough market research on the bridal shop industry. You might need to visit wedding fairs where wedding vendors and sellers meet in order to understand how the industry works, as well as know what gowns and accessories are trending and which are referred to as classics.
Talking to competitors is also necessary as this will allow you understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how to exploit their weaknesses to become an advantage for you to create your own unique style. Once you have hired the right staff you need for your business, you will need to ensure that you engage in marketing campaigns in order to gain the attention of your target market.
If you feel overwhelmed carrying out your marketing campaigns, you might engage the services of a marketing consultant with experience in your kind of business, so that your bridal shop business will be projected via the right channels and perhaps with the least expenses.
Steps to Starting a Bridal Shop Business from Home
1. Understand the Industry
According to IBISWorld, the bridal stores market in the united states is worth billion annually and has experienced a 0.3 percent growth between the periods of 2011 to 2016. There are more than 8,200 bridal stores in the United States of America employing more than 48,000 people, which shows that the industry is not doing badly for itself.
However, the sluggish growth experienced in the industry is one that is caused by slow economic recovery where customers are slowly getting their confidence back and have also increased their wedding budgets in order to get the gowns they want.
In the years to come, bridal shops in the United States will be expected to increase their investment in labor in order to provide a customer service that is superior and will aim to make them stand out from bridal online stores. While this might be positive news, the increase in wage costs will still cause a sluggish growth for the industry, thereby limiting the profit likely to be experienced in the industry.
On the customers’ side, rising disposable income will help in boosting wedding budgets as this will enable couples that had been postponing their weddings due to low income to be able to choose a date. The bridal shop industry is one that exhibits a very low level of capital intensity.
Also, the industry is one that is highly dependent on labor in order to help customers make their choices, and have their fittings as well as alterations.
The fact that intending brides usually try on a sample dress or dresses before being measured to get a custom size gown are one of the factors that have caused a high wage in the industry. Wedding gowns account for majority of sales in this industry and as a result, staff employed must have a thorough knowledge of the brands and styles carried by the shops in which they are employed.
Globally, the market for bridal wears is expected to surpass $80 billion by the year 2022. This surge will be caused by factors such as an increase in lavish weddings due in parts to rising cultural expectations, social media as well as the influence caused by celebrity weddings.
Another reason for the surge in the industry globally is due to the fact that more brides are demanding for jewelries which has led to the launch of innovative and creative bridal jewelry. Also, there has been a high demand for comfortable yet stylish bridal footwear which gained prominence due to the internet and social media.
The largest market for bridal stores is the United States of America, with Europe following closely behind. These two markets are expected to not only continue to dominate the industry but to also dictate and cause a heavy influence on the fashion regarding what brides would wear all around the world.
Therefore, the growth in sales experienced in countries such as Germany, Spain, France and the united kingdom will be of great benefit to Europe as a whole. Another surprising emerging market dictator is Japan which is already setting trends in the industry.
The bridal stores industry is expected to grow by 2.5 percent on the average every year. This is as the slow declining rate in marriages has caused a serious limitation for the industry. However, it is to be noted that the recovery of the U.S economy has caused more customers to increase their wedding budgets and have seen a surge in demand for luxury wedding products that are being sold in the industry.
According to a wedding survey by the Knot, the average amount of money spent on wedding gowns increased significantly between the periods of 2010 and 2014. The trend is still expected to rise through 2015 especially as revenue rose to $4.3 billion.
There is intense competition in the industry as the number of players in the industry has increased. Most manufacturers are expanding their services vertically by opening up more bridal shops and selling their products at markups that are higher, in order to boost revenue.
Competition is also mounting from online retailers who not only benefit from not having to pay rent but also having to deal with less labor and other operating and overhead expenses.
Other entrants causing intense competition are department stores which have also expanded their bridal departments in order to be able to boost revenue. This therefore means that even though the economy has improved, the profit expected in the industry will in contrast be contracted.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic compositions of those who require the services of a bridal shop are not limited to those are looking to wed but also to those who are coordinating wedding and other sorts of vendors.
Therefore, if you are looking to define the demographics for your bridal shop, you should look towards making it all encompassing and seek to conduct a thorough market research that will open your business up to more target markets.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
The bridal shop business is one that offers brides the opportunity to choose their gowns as well as other accessories that will make their dream day a success.
Therefore, it is important that you thoroughly research the market to not only have an in depth knowledge of the business but to know what niche will best suit you. Some of the major niche areas that you may need to decide on when you start your bridal shop include;
- Retailing of Wedding Gowns
- Retailing of Bridal Accessories
- Retailing of Bridesmaid Dresses
- Providing alterations and other related services
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the bridal shop business industry most times does not depend on the location of the business. This is because the internet has now made it possible for entrepreneurs to be anywhere and still get customers from all over the world if they wish.
This trend made bridal shops to focus more in creating their websites and boosting their online presence via social media platforms so as to be able to penetrate the market as well as get more of their target market to be aware of their presence.
This has also made it very hard for companies who do not have an online presence to compete fairly against their competitors as customers are able to make choices of what they want via browsing on their devices without having to physically visit many bridal shops.
There are several bridal shops scattered all over the United States of America and this is due to how big and creative the industry is coupled with low entry barrier thereby making it easy for new entrants. If you are therefore looking to start your own bridal shop in the United States, you must be prepared for the stiff competition which you might have to face from other bridal shops.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are brands that stand out due to several reasons and the bridal shop services market is no different.
The reasons why brands stand out are due to their products and services, their marketing and publicity strategies, their pricing strategies, their length of time in the industry as well as their customer care relationship. Below therefore are some of the well-known bridal shops in the United States of America;
- David’s Bridal
- Mark Ingram Atelier
- The Dress Theory
- Little White Dress
- Loho Bride
- Chic Parisien
- Solstice Bride
- Lovely Bride
- Shareen Vintage
The revenue growth expected in this industry will slow down between 2015 and 2022, especially as less people will not only be getting married but competition from different external factors will increase. Other factors that will cause a decrease in revenue for this industry includes, companies having to invest in labor so as to be able to provide superior and quality service.
According to a survey from The Knot and Wedding Channel, the average budget spent on a wedding is $28,400 even though weddings in certain parts of the city such as Manhattan, has an average of $76,000.
One reason why there has been a wedding surge is due to the legalization of same-sex marriages; where the average gay couple is older and likely to spend more on their weddings. According to Bloomberg, the New York’s economy alone will get see $100 million generated from these gay marriages.
It is estimated that the next 25 years or more will see more Americans getting married, thereby allowing more businesses to tap into trending opportunities in order to keep up with the times and habits of couples.
This means that more bridal shops will have to embrace mobile technology as nearly 60 percent of brides have embraced using a smartphone to plan their weddings and order their dresses. The bridal shop business isn’t one that is very difficult to break into especially as most of the businesses in the industry are run by local entrepreneurs.
The industry is one that relies heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth, so entrepreneurs are going out of their way to ensure that they offer their customers quality service and products.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
In starting from the scratch, you will not only be in control of making key decisions concerning your business, you will also be able to change strategies whenever it is necessary so that your decisions would favor your business. Starting from the scratch can however be very overwhelming especially if you do not have prior experience as regards the business.
Buying a franchise is another ballgame, for you will not only get all that is necessary to start your bridal shop, you will also be buying into mentorship as well and certain key decisions such as marketing and advertising, promotions and legal entity and so on would be out of your hand.
One disadvantage of buying a franchise is that you will not be in charge of running your business and so you might not be able to make certain changes to your business where there might be need for one. It is therefore important that you thoroughly research on what franchises are available, what they will be offering your business as well as if your business will even need one.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business entrepreneur starting out should expect to face certain threats and challenges and should therefore be prepared for it.
The bridal shop business is one that isn’t different from other forms of businesses and as an entrepreneur you should be prepared by making a thorough survey of the industry before starting the business as this will help you to become prepared for any threats and challenges that you are likely to face.
Some of the threats and challenges that you should therefore expect when starting your bridal shop include; the downturn of the economy where spending power of clients will reduce, intense competition from already existing bridal shops and from new entrants into the market as well as new trends and innovations that might change the pace of business.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
Some of the factors that you would need to consider when choosing a legal entity for your business include; tax implications, liability, ease of set up and control as well as ability to access external funds for your business. It is imperative that you get in touch with an attorney or accountant with experience in your market to help you help especially if you do not understand or are overwhelmed by the whole legal entity issue.
In the United States, there are four basic legal entities available for entrepreneurs and they include; sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and Limited Liability Company. In the sole proprietorship, the owner controls everything in the business and should the business fail, he or she will be held personally liable.
In the partnership form of legal entity, two or more people come together to form a business and the decision and action of one partner is binding on all members. Also, the partners are held personally liable for any losses incurred in the course of running the business.
In the corporation, the business is regarded as a separate entity from the owners. This is usually hard to set up and requires the services of an attorney. Owners or shareholders are taxed doubly in this form of legal entity. In the LLC, owners are also regarded as separate entities from the business. However an advantage of this system is that owners are taxed on personal income returns.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Choosing a catchy business name for your bridal shop might not be so easy especially if the names you desire have already been picked by other competitors.
When choosing a name for your bridal shop, it is important that you choose a name that is unique, memorable and related to the industry you are in. Some of the names that you should therefore consider when starting your bridal shop include;
- Lora’s Bridal Store
- Becky’s Brides
- Exquisite Bridal Store
- La La Dream Bridals
- Unik bridal Store
- Lola’s Pretty Brides
- Starlet Bridals
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Having insurance policies for your bridal shop is very important especially if you are considering running your bridal store in the United States of America. Having an insurance policy protects you from having to pay personally from your pocket when you encounter any incident.
If you are confused about the insurance policies that you would need for your bridal shop, you might need to get in touch with an insurance agent or broker that would help you choose the appropriate insurance policies for your bridal shop.
Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you intend starting your bridal shop in the United States of America;
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Commercial Vehicle Insurance
- Employment Practices Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Payment Protection Insurance
- Business Owner’s Policy Group Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
Applying for intellectual property protection for your business is one sure way of protecting your business. It is therefore important that you decide if this is what you want for your business especially if you have enough money and time to wait for your IPP to take effect.
Even though this is a creative industry, applying for an IPP for your business might be very difficult as there is no law stopping another designer from copying another design that you have stocked. Also, due to the fact that you will be into sale of products, you might not need to bother except you are interested in protecting your company logo, domain name and other concepts relating to your business.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The bridal shop business is one that is based on skills acquisition and experience, rarely is a certification needed in this kind of business. What clients expect from you in this kind of business is the quality of your products and service delivery.
This is not to say that there are no certifications in this industry, but they aren’t standardized and so any entrepreneur running this kind of business or intending to stand out might need to get some sort of certifications in order to boost the profile of their company.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Every business running in the United States of America is expected to have the necessary documentations in place in order not to run into any sort of problems with the law. While the desire to start a business might be exciting, making sure you fulfill all legal obligations is more important.
If you are not sure of what documents to use in starting off your business, you might need to engage the services of an attorney or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to help you with the right documents to use in running your bridal shop.
Therefore some of the basic legal documents that you would need to have in place regardless of the state you intend operating your business from are;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement
- Seller’s Tax Permit
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Insurance Policy
- Contract Documents
- Federal Tax Identification Number
- Business License
- Business Plan
- Business Permit
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Every entrepreneur has a dream of building something that would be not only be magnificent but also stand the test of time; but to have a business that is huge and stands out from others in terms of product, requires a lot of money.
Sourcing for start-up capital is one sure way of achieving this dream; however, not all entrepreneurs have the money at hand when they dream of starting a business and so it is necessary that you seek for ways by which you can get the needed money to start up your bridal shop.
Having a business plan really helps as this will help convince your potential investors of the need to lend you the necessary money to start your bridal shop. Below therefore are some of the ways you can source for finance for your business;
- Using personal funds from savings and sale of stock or properties
- Applying for loan from the bank
- Sourcing for soft loan from friends and family members
- Sourcing for loan from private investors in exchange for equity
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
Finding a suitable location for your bridal shop is very important because a good location translates into more brides visiting your store, which will in turn lead to more revenue generation for your business. Your target market should determine where you will need to locate your business.
However, with the new trend in the industry where retailers can run their bridal shops online, more entrepreneurs who don’t have the necessary funds to consider renting or leasing a commercial facility are considering this option especially as even those with traditional brick and mortar buildings also have to run their stores online in order to get the attention of their intended target market.
If you therefore intend to run your business from home by operating solely from an online store, you will need to conduct a research on how well bridal shops running their businesses from home were faring. If there are no successes recorded, then you might need to reconsider your options as regards running your bridal shop business from home.
In order to ensure that your business can compete with its contemporaries, you might need to rent or lease a facility with which to run your bridal shop.
You should ensure that you look for a property where you can get at least a five year lease with a three year break lease clause. This is so that you will be able to study your business properly within two years and know by the third year whether your location is working for you or not.
You might need to consult with a real estate agent or broker who has experience in your kind of business to help you choose an environment that will be highly favorable for your bridal shop business.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Before your business can start and grow to the extent you require, you will need to start with inventory which will depend on the finance you have at hand to start your business with. In order to have inventory, you will need to select the suppliers you will work with. At this point, building or having a good relationship with these suppliers is very essential.
You might start with three or four collections and move on to have close to 60 samples. Except you intend to target only luxury clients, then you might need to stock your products according to price bands, as this will allow you to cater to a wide range of customers.
Once you have decided on the location of your store, then you would need to ensure that you decorate the shop with the essentials needed to help your business grow and thrive and also to ensure that your customers have the needed convenience and comfort when they use your store.
Creating an atmosphere such as using plug in scents, using fresh flowers and also having on low music from a quality sound system is enough to make your bridal shop inviting for your clients.
There are basic supplies and equipment that you will need to have in place in order to start your business on a standard scale. Therefore, the basic equipment you would need to start off your business include; display counters, clothing racks, large mirrors, computer, phones, printer, scanner, office supplies, and software (sales, accounting, and customer).
Regarding the kind of business structure you intend to build for your bridal shop, you will need to ensure that you hire only competent, committed as well as those who align with your organizational goals and visions to work in your bridal shop.
Therefore, the people you need to hire if you intend to run your bridal shop successfully are; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), admin and human resources manager, business development and marketing executive, sales representatives, tailor, accountant, front desk officer, security guard and driver. You will need at least 9 key people to help you run your bridal shop to achieve your intended goals and objectives.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
Bridal shops are on the lookout to make shopping better for brides and so strive to make the processes easier. The internet as well as technology has made it easier for bridal shops to get brides to easily pick out the gowns they would need for their big day.
While starting a bridal shop might look easy enough, it is not usually so as you need to establish a relationship with trusted vendors.
Once a relationship has been established, picking the gowns that would make brides ecstatic enough to order them is another process as the owner of the bridal shop must have an eye for detail and also be creative enough to make alterations that would meet the expectations of the customer.
Once an order has been made, the bridal shop has to ensure that the prospective bride goes through fittings so that all would be perfect for the big day. Most bridal shops have accessories so that the bride can use these accessories to make the gown more beautiful.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Having the right marketing plans regarding your business is very essential if you intend to penetrate the target market and stand out from your competitors. In having a marketing plan, it is essential that you focus on what kind of clients you intend to have and the experiences you might want them to gain when they come to your bridal shop.
Customers that come to your store want to feel valued, therefore, when you intend marketing your bridal store to your intended market, you should ensure that you focus part of your marketing campaigns on your good customer relationship.
Conducting a thorough market survey when you intend to decide what marketing campaigns will best suit your bridal store is very essential. This is because your market research will allow you to know and understand your target market and know how to meet and exceed their expectations.
Hiring a marketing consultant with the necessary experience is key as this will help you fumble less as regards what channels would be most effective for your business. Below therefore are some of the marketing strategies and ideas you might need to use in order to kick start your bridal shop business;
- Empower your marketing executives to market your bridal shop
- Create in-store promotions on a regular basis in order to not only generate sales but also ensure that clients return to your store
- Place adverts about your bridal shop with local newspapers and popular bridal magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Create a website and ensure that it has keywords that will direct traffic to your sites when brides go online to check for bridal gowns
- Ensure that your bridal shop is listed in yellow pages as well as o online directories
- Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Google Plus to market your bridal shops
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Promoting your business is very important and this is because publicity helps to not only increase awareness for your business but also helps ensure that you generate the needed revenue for your business.
Every serious minded entrepreneur knows how advantageous boosting the awareness of a brand is, which is why companies who are already in existence, do not mind spending a huge fortune every year to promote their business to their intended target market.
With the internet, more entrepreneurs are finding it very easy to promote their brands and create a corporate identity for their business, especially businesses who are running on a tight budget as the internet has made it very cheap for businesses to promote their products and or services in order to not only stand out but to also compete favorably against their competitors.
There are several online platforms available for use that most entrepreneurs are not aware of, which is why they engage the services of a publicity consultant who understands the industry thoroughly and have the needed experience to help draft the right strategies that would boost the brand awareness of the company as well as create a corporate identity.
This does not however mean that all campaigns should be done online as there are several effective publicity campaigns offline that are very effective as well and will still help to achieve the desired goals and objectives of a bridal shop business.
Below are some of the platforms that can be used to boost brand awareness as well as create a corporate identity for a bridal shop.
- Making use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram to promote your bridal shop
- Creating an interactive website and creating blog updates in order to increase awareness for your bridal shop
- Encourage your satisfied customers to help spread the word about your business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in strategic locations where you intend to operate your business from
- Placing adverts about your bridal shop in local newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Attend wedding fairs and other such events in order to network and create awareness about your business