Palm Desert, CA—Marriage is all about partnership, so it’s fitting that a retailer of wedding attire is teaming with other marketers and service providers. In her session titled “Leveraging Strategic Partnerships to Enhance the Customer Experience in All Sales Channels” at the eTail show here, David’s Bridal’s vice president of strategic partnerships, Veronica Katz-Smith, discussed some of the Conshohocken, PA-based merchant’s unions.
Once a couple gets engaged, “the first step is to look for a dress,” Smith noted. Wide-eyed brides just embarking on the wedding-preparation process ask David’s store consultants for advice on finding resources such as DJs, flowers, and good beauty salons. Its strategic partnership program enables David’s to connect brides with providers of such products and services.
For instance, in a partnership with 1-800-Flowers.com, David’s Bridal has designed exclusive, color-coordinated floral arrangements that go with its wedding attire. A deal with After Hours Formalwear enables brides to coordinate the wedding party’s tuxedos with the bridesmaids’ gowns. The company hooked up with its first national partner, Sandals resorts, about two years ago. With Sandals, David’s stores will host Caribbean-themed nights with information on various islands to help couples plan their honeymoon at a Sandals resort.
The Internet is an important component of the partnerships, Smith said, because “81% of all brides in the U.S. will use online/Internet resources to plan their wedding.” The home page of the David’s Bridal Website has a wedding planning tab that takes users to a page that lets them search local partners in multiple categories–which will bring up partners located within a 35-mile radius—as well as national partners.
“The bride is a powerful brand ambassador,” Smith said. Word-of-mouth is the number one way to promote a brand to brides–and it’s never too early to start. In a strategic partnership designed to appeal to flower girls, David’s offers a $5 gift certificate to Build-a- Bear Workshop with every dress purchase. Why target flower girls? Because former flower girls “come back to David’s for their prom, bridesmaid dresses, wedding gown,” and eventually, Smith said, their mother-of-the-bride outfits.