Giving consumers exactly what they want is a primary goal for retailers in all sectors, but precision and customer satisfaction are especially crucial in the wedding industry. Individuals preparing for weddings tend to have detailed visions of what they want and why, and meeting these customers where they are is a big challenge for businesses. Consumers who just spent more than a year shopping mostly online are unlikely to want to visit physical stores for all of their shopping, explained Danny Luczak, chief technology officer for wedding retailer David’s Bridal. Developing a seamless experience that allows customers to shop for what they need across multiple channels is thus a must.
“We are focused on creating kind of an omnichannel customer experience from the perspective of [recognizing] that maybe someone is not comfortable being in a store for two hours, going through a whole experience, buying the shoes and the robes and the accessories and everything that they need for their wedding,” Luczak said. “So, we are working on a way to bring those two experiences to life so that [customers] can shop at home and then when they get into the store, they can purchase everything together with one payment instead of having to deal with that as two completely separate transactions.”
Seamless cross-channel experiences must not only be offered but must be kept secure. Developing security standards that allow consumers to trust and engage with retailers will help businesses maintain relationships with shoppers as their payment preferences and needs change.
Joining Omnichannel Seamlessness And Security
Luczak said David’s Bridal has implemented several solutions to better engage consumers who are seeking swifter and more personalized shopping and payment experiences. The retailer, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of all U.S. wedding dress sales, launched its first loyalty program, Diamond Loyalty, last December, and about 500,000 brides have since enrolled. The program allows brides to earn points if 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 is important to support such features across channels, Luczak stated, but retailers must also be sure they are keeping the payment process itself as simple as possible.
“We cannot have experiences that are overly complicated,” he said. “That is going to do two things. It is going to give you more potential vulnerabilities, and then it is also going to pull away from that ideal customer experience. If they see that your payment process is more complicated than what they are typically used to, that … would create just a general sense of distrust. So, we really focus on seamless, frictionless, very easy customer experiences … and then just also making sure that our systems are architected to where there are minimized points of risks.”
A critical part of mitigating risks involves making sure payments are secure, Luczak explained, such as by keeping card information tokenized to reduce the threat of breaches. Fraudsters are beginning to attack with emerging tools and strategies, but consumers still expect to be able to swiftly pay with their preferred methods.
“We also recognize that, right now more than ever … cybersecurity is a huge concern for folks,” he said. “There seems to be kind of a movement away from the card kind of hacking and breaching toward more of … the ransomware types [of] breaches, but consumer behavior has not really changed in that regard. It is not like people are just getting comfortable [and saying], ‘OK, my credit card information is safe now.’”
Merchants must safeguard all payment types as consumers begin utilizing a broader variety of methods at the digital and physical points of sale (POS). Buy now, pay later (BNPL) methods that allow consumers to break purchases into installments are also becoming more popular, with David’s Bridal offering such plans via the provider Affirm. Mobile-optimized payment methods are also on the rise among consumers, and keeping abreast of how they are interacting with mobile wallets could give retailers key insights into engaging consumers and retaining their trust.
Preparing For The Mobile Wallet Age
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 wallets have generated more interest among merchants and consumers alike over the past year. Part of the draw is that these wallets have already tied security and ease of use together, he added.
“I [personally] have leaned more into using those types of payment methods because of the simplicity [and] the biometric two-factor [authentication],” he said. “All of these different ways that they kind of inherently secure those methods without burdening the merchants with having to build that extra technology is pretty fantastic. It is really consumer-friendly, and I feel like it is just going to continue to become the standard of how people … interact.”
Mobile payments could be a perfect match for consumers seeking security and convenience. Retailers of all types would be wise to monitor how consumers are utilizing these methods as well as how their payment preferences are evolving.