Giving consumers exactly what they want is a primary goal for retailers across all industries, but accuracy and customer satisfaction are especially critical in the wedding industry. People preparing for weddings tend to have detailed visions of what they want and why, and meeting these clients where they are is a big challenge for businesses. Consumers who have just spent more than a year shopping primarily online are unlikely to want to visit physical stores for all of their purchases, said Danny Luczak, chief technology officer for wedding retailer David’s Bridal. Developing a seamless experience that allows customers to buy what they need across multiple channels is therefore a must.
“We are focused on creating a kind of omnichannel customer experience from the point of view of [recognizing] that maybe someone isn’t comfortable being in a store for two hours, having a whole experience, buying the shoes, dresses, accessories and whatever else they need for their marriage, ”Luczak said. “So we’re working on a way to bring these two experiences to life so that [customers] can shop at home and then when they walk into the store they can buy it all in one payment instead of having to treat it as two completely separate transactions.
Transparent cross-channel experiences must not only be offered, but must be secure. Developing security standards that allow consumers to trust and interact with retailers will help businesses maintain relationships with shoppers as their preferences and payment needs change.
Joining omnichannel transparency and security
Luczak said David’s Bridal has implemented several solutions to better engage consumers who are looking for faster, more personalized shopping and payment experiences. The retailer, which accounts for about a quarter of all wedding dress sales in the United States, launched its first loyalty program, Diamond Loyalty, last December, and around 500,000 brides have signed up since. The program allows brides to earn points if their friends and family add them as beneficiaries on their purchases. The retailer has also developed an augmented reality experience for online shoppers that allows them to project images of certain dresses and view their details at home. It’s important to support these features across all channels, Luczak said, but retailers also need to make sure they keep the checkout process itself as easy as possible.
“We cannot have experiences that are too complicated,” he said. “It’s going to do two things. It’s going to give you more potential vulnerabilities, and then it’s going to take you away from that ideal customer experience as well. If they see that your checkout process is more complicated than they’re usually used to, it … would just create a general feeling of mistrust. So we really focus on seamless, frictionless and very easy customer experiences… and we also make sure our systems are architected to minimize risk. “
A critical part of risk mitigation is making sure payments are secure, Luczak explained, for example by keeping card information in token form to reduce the risk of breach. Scammers are starting to attack with emerging tools and strategies, but consumers still expect to be able to pay quickly with their preferred methods.
“We also recognize that right now more than ever… cybersecurity is a major concern for people,” he said. “There seems to be some kind of movement away from the card hack and breach type to more… types of ransomware. [of] violations, but consumer behavior has not really changed in this regard. It’s not like people are getting comfortable [and saying], ‘OK, my credit card information is safe now.’ ”
Merchants need to protect all types of payment as consumers begin to use a greater variety of digital and physical point-of-sale (POS) methods. Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) methods that allow consumers to split purchases into installments are also increasingly popular, with David’s Bridal offering such plans through provider Affirm. Mobile-optimized payment methods are also on the rise among consumers, and staying on top of how they interact with mobile wallets could give retailers key insights to engage consumers and maintain their trust.
Prepare for the era of the mobile wallet
Luczak said that while David’s Bridal does not offer support for mobile wallet payments like Google Pay or Apple Pay, such tools will likely be a point of interest in the future. These portfolios have generated more interest among merchants and consumers over the past year. Part of the draw is that these wallets have already linked security and ease of use, he added.
“I [personally] have focused more on using these types of payment methods due to the simplicity [and] the double biometric factor [authentication], “he said.” All of these different ways of inherently securing these methods without forcing traders to have to build this additional technology are pretty fantastic. It’s really user-friendly, and I feel like it’s going to continue. to become the norm for the way people… interact.
Mobile payments might be a perfect fit for consumers looking for security and convenience. Retailers of all types would be advised to monitor how consumers use these methods as well as their changing payment preferences.