The bridal industry Jaclyn Jordan came into almost 14 years ago was a very different market. “It was pre-Pinterest, pre-Facebook, all of that,” she says. Starting as a freshman in design school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Jordan wanted a job in bridal. She got hired at a small bridal salon and later worked for another designer as she continued to develop her career.
After getting married in 2012, Jordan wanted to pursue her goal of having her own business as a designer. She started her brand in 2013 with bridal accessories, launching with items such as lace tops, overskirts and veils. A few years later she expanded Jaclyn Jordan New York to include gowns, something she says was always a target but, “It takes capital.”
Buying a veil online can be challenging in its own right — how long will it be on a tall frame, will the color match the gown well enough? — but Jordan says the Wix ecommerce system she uses has built-in tools like a messaging platform that make the process quick, reliable and simple.
“We communicate with customers,” Jordan says. “They might send emails of what their dress is like.” Customers who have questions about a style on the brand’s site can also use the online messaging tools to get more information before making a decision.
Her team of experienced stylists has an eye for the pieces that work best together; they also understand the variety of color palettes used by other popular designers. Using that expertise, the team helps customers navigate the options to find the perfect accessories.
EXPANDING THE ECOMMERCE FOOTPRINT
Though Jordan’s full portfolio features custom wedding dresses as the centerpiece, the online store currently sells only separates and accessories. That will soon change, as she finalizes plans to add gowns to the ecommerce platform. “We’re working toward that,” she says.
Selling custom gowns is a detailed, high-touch process that typically includes some face-to-face visits with the bride. The logistics of moving those steps online will require a good bit of attention to ensure everything goes smoothly. “It’s figuring out things, like what size will fit you best,” Jordan says.
It can be difficult to have customers take their own measurements, simply because Jordan and her team need to know they were taken correctly and accurately. Accessory items don’t require any fitting, but the same can’t be said for a wedding gown. Most brides will need some tailoring to ensure their dress fits as it should, and connecting with an experienced seamstress is key to getting a gown that looks perfect on the big day.
“Alterations isn’t the place to skimp,” Jordan says, who has built a network of seamstresses across the country. “I’ll do my best to help my clients source someone because it’s very important that the fit is right.”
“My game plan is to have a set of samples that are dedicated for the ecommerce platform. They try them in their home and, fingers crossed, they fall in love with one and order it.” — Jaclyn Jordan, Jaclyn Jordan New York
The custom bridal market isn’t just about fittings and alterations. It’s also a highly tactile process where brides want to see firsthand how the gown’s material drapes as they move. Jordan knew it was important for her customers to get that same in-the-flesh experience from her online shop.
“My game plan is to have a set of samples that are dedicated for the ecommerce platform,” she says. The process, though still in development, will likely include brides paying a small fee to borrow several gowns, which can then be shipped out to them for an in-person evaluation. “They try them in their home and, fingers crossed, they fall in love with one and order it,” Jordan explains.
If the bride chooses to order a gown, the cost to borrow the samples can then be deducted from the final invoice.
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND ONLINE BRIDAL
Transforming the traditional face-to-face process of purchasing a bridal gown into something that can be done through digital channels takes advanced systems. Jordan says much of that tech is already entwined in bridal. “It’s in everything I’m doing on the backend of production, all of the different programs and such that we use as a team to talk to one another.”
In addition, her brand relies on technology to feature visual assets including photos and videos on the brand’s website, along with social media outreach to its customer base. The integration of multiple components was something that drew Jordan to the Wix system originally. “It was really important to have a platform that we could manage easily and that would have a built-in ecommerce function,” she says. “Wix just made sense for my business.”
Customers can use the software’s communication tools to reach out to Jordan’s team. “I think what’s so nice for the bride is, they have the ability to communicate with us directly through the website and they can send us any information or questions that they have,” she says. On the ordering side, Wix takes incoming orders and generates an invoice, saving time and quickly getting everything into the team’s hands.
“We then put it into our production chart and then when it’s time to invoice, it has all of the bride’s information, such as their email, their phone, all of that,” Jordan says. Shipments go out via FedEx and are confirmed in Wix, with order status and tracking information going out to the bride so they receive all their information seamlessly.
Launching her ecommerce storefront prompted Jordan to look at the business’s product mix to see what could be done simply and quickly so the brand could get into the digital marketplace without a lot of delays. She had a picture of how she wanted the offerings to evolve and she stuck to that.
“I had different opportunities to sell other things that weren’t necessarily mine, but were complementary items,” Jordan says. She opted not to do that, and instead focused on her own brand and its long-term evolution. “When we developed the store, I thought about how we could make dresses a thing for us.” Jordan knew the logistics would be complex and wanted to get the right process in place, particularly when it came to giving each bride the ability to see what she might end up buying.
“We worked through that for a while until we felt comfortable with the concept of dedicated gowns for our ecommerce platform that we can ship to the bride for a small fee,” Jordan says.
As she works through the challenges and continues to move her brand forward, Jordan has spoken with many others in her industry about what they’re hearing from brides, and even from wedding planners and others in the field.
“I’m not afraid to talk to a certain group of designer friends that I have, because we all reach different brides, and we’re all in this together,” Jordan says. “If you have people like that in your industry that you can talk to and bounce ideas off, it can only help you.”
Julie Knudson is a freelance business writer who focuses on retail, hospitality and technology.