As we’re all aware, online shopping is becoming increasingly popular. In the last 12 months, it was reported that an astonishing 87% of UK consumers had purchased at least one product online. Digital sales increased 21.3% in the year 2016, and this is forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017.
The wedding industry also appears to be operating comfortably online, as the recent wedding I covered show. Wedding planning has traditionally always been a very physical process, 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 at your venue for your wedding breakfast? But with new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world? Retailers of seven stone rings, Angelic Diamonds, explores the issue.
Does the future look digital?
As more and more companies continue to take the plunge into the digital world, will the wedding industry have to follow suit to remain successful?
Without fully operating online, the digital world has already influenced the wedding industry in many ways. Social media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, offer brides and grooms lots of 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.
Couples seem to be using their mobiles for wedding shopping more too – a report from The Huffington Post showed that around 6 out of 10 brides are actively planning their weddings through their mobile device: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011) and search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011).
Some wedding vendors are getting in on the action too. The apps provide an effective platform for companies to show couples what they have on offer and compete with other businesses in the industry in a new way. 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 is also playing its part on the big day too – when asked, 27% of modern couples said that they would create a hashtag for their big day!
In terms of survival, it does not appear as though the lack of online presence is drastically harming the wedding industry. Whilst it is likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage to stay up to date with the latest technologies, and keep their head in the game, there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.
All couples who have planned a wedding or are in the process of doing so, understand how much of the process revolves around physical activities. In fact, the industry would most likely suffer more if it went solely online. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries, and there is a reason for that; whilst modern couples use social media for visual inspiration, 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.
All in all, it appears as though the wedding industry will continue to thrive without becoming too digitalised. However, it’s very clear that customers are using the internet and social media in the inspiration stages of wedding planning – perhaps when they are deciding what vendors to go and experience. Therefore, although the industry is not yet ready to wipe out all traditional methods of wedding planning, being tech savvy is still necessary. 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.