Can the wedding industry survive in the digital age?

Many retailers are operating digitally today, understanding the importance of an online presence and the potential customer reach that comes with it. In contrast to this is the wedding industry, which has maintained a strong offline presence and is continuing to thrive. With brides needing to try on their wedding gowns before they buy, grooms having several suit fittings. And of course, who would want to miss out on the opportunity to have a tasting session? But with new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world?

When we talk about the wedding industry, we aren’t only talking about the big day itself. Planning is essential even to minute detail, such as, for example, your wedding invitations.  It’s now possible and very popular to even create an online wedding list. And by wedding list, I mean wedding gifts!

Customers are enjoying shopping online and making purchases from the comfort of your home seems like the norm now. In the last twelve months, it was reported that around 87% of UK customers have purchased at least one product online. From the year 2016, digital sales have increased by 21.3%. And are forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017. But does this mean that wedding vendors will have to make the transformation online too? 

Will the wedding industry transform?

With such a successful offline presence and the constraints that it faces, the future of the wedding industry is uncertain.  

The digital world has already impacted the industry and how its customers search and shop. With 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.

In a report published by The Huffington Post, the shopping habits of brides was revealed.  Research showed that 61% of brides search for gowns through their mobile (up from 27% in 2011); and 57% search for wedding vendors in the same way (this figure was 22% in 2011).

And it’s not just weddings either. Engagements are on the digital agenda, with companies like Angelic Diamonds, for example, selling tension set engagement rings very successfully online.

Wedding companies are using social media channels to their own advantages too. The 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 can also be used for couples to look back on their wedding journey and the day from the guests’ point of view. 27% of modern couples suggested said that they would create a hashtag for their special day to do this.

How should wedding suppliers proceed?

If wedding vendors approach the digital world in the right way, the future could remain promising. It’s likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage. As they need to stay up to date with the latest technologies, and keep their head in the game. But there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.

In fact, if the industry decided to become fully digital; as many clothing retailers have done, it is likely that it would begin to struggle. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries. And there is a reason for that. Modern couples use social media for visual inspiration; but 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.

The wedding entertainment industry is perhaps one clear example. It’s possible to find great wedding entertainment online, using sites like Special Guest App. And digital advancement means that listening to or watching an act online is easy enough when you’re making your final decision.

If a wedding supplier is not already online, it is still highly suggested that they make this move. However, it appears that it is during the inspiration stages of the wedding planning process that the internet is most useful. The industry is definitely 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.  

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