Avoid Being Overcharged, Wedding Day Guides You to a Happy Marriage
Did you know, some sociologists believe that the main reason weddings in our society are so expensive and so much trouble is to prevent divorces and remarriages. That being said, people still want to put on fancy dresses and have the most romantic weddings. Like most marriages, the wedding industry isn’t as bright as it seems at first, the biggest reason is the profit structure hidden behind it.
Co-founders of wedding service website Wedding Day, Aidan Yeh and Verna Tseng, once went wedding dress shopping in a famous chain store, to understand their pricing strategy and witness how the employees wouldn’t take no for an answer like everybody said. They were extremely polite at first though, even when you couldn’t find anything you liked, they still led you upstairs to see the more expensive alternatives, and started telling you the prices, discounts then immediately jumped to down payment. However, once Aidan and Verna said they had no intention of buying anything that day, the employee suddenly changed attitude, making the rest of the experience very uncomfortable.
This might not be the case for all wedding dress stores, but problems still exist. “The best looking dresses are often hidden somewhere, and treated as some kind of fallback.” Said Aidan, “they usually use low price as attraction to get customers inside the store, then persuade them to spend more money, however they can.”
Contrary to popular belief, this kind of business model actually makes huge profit. Aidan explained, a dress costs between NT$10000 and NT$20000, some stores are able to make twice as much money just by renting it out once. This is due to the severe imbalance of knowledge on each side of the deal. Unless you’re in a romantic drama, most people don’t get married too many times, so they are not really bothered by the price they have to pay. Team founder and CEO Stark Chung faced the same problem himself when he got married, and decided to start a business on this topic after discussing with his team.
Wedding Day Is Actually the Result of an Outstanding Pivot
Though they had decided to go with the wedding industry, the Wedding Day team didn’t want to make an information platform at first. On the top right corner of their website, there’s an “attendance chart” that helps newlyweds keep track of their attendants and other details. That chart was the team’s original idea for their business, but they soon found out it was hard to make money off it, because nobody would pay for such a simple head counting service; the other organizer app they had was too complex, and was targeted at the wrong customers. It should be sold to wedding planners but instead they picked hotels.
The chart itself did not make too much money, but it did help Wedding Day gain over 2000 members. This data pushed them to their next stage. “When we were about to give up the entire project, we decided to take one last shot at it, by sending out surveys to our members. The results came back and showed that many people lack the knowledge in wedding dresses and their prices, hence we officially made information integration platform as our main service.”
Wedding Day provides services like dress rental, photo shoot, personal makeup artist, and information on other services like wedding candy and invitation cards. The website charges these service providers annual fees and nothing else. Unlike most wedding websites that are mere extensions of online forum with information coming in a mess and are seldom updated, Wedding Day focuses on better UI and overall visual presentation. Besides finding store locations, sorting dresses by their colors, the newlyweds can set their budgets and preferences too, or even receive suggestions according to their body types. The website even gives suggestions for outdoor and indoor photo shoot, and wedding receptions.
Wedding Day was first launched in 2013, with only 3 business partners, and less than 100 dresses. The team kept exploring and building connections with non-traditional wedding studios, then slowly doing better and better. At the end of the year, their number of preorders reached 100, this was all thanks to their social media policy.
Business Information Should Be Public, so Is Your Real Name
Wedding Day doesn’t want to become a place for people to complain about things, or smear competing businesses, but at the same time they still want users to share their experiences and give ratings, so they made all information public for both users and business partners.
Aidan said, once you need to take responsibility for your online speech, you will be a lot more rational in your discussion. “Users have to log in before they can leave comments. Business owners can reply to criticisms too. Besides these mechanisms, we invite newlyweds to start from sharing, to introduce to other people the things they like and great shopping experiences they had, or anything positive to the community.”
The website has its own social content as well, and it’s being maintained by Verna. She has to visit every wedding studio and try on every dress, so she can discuss them with the newlyweds and give them suggestions. Wedding Day is trying to brand Verna as a “wedding blogger” whom people will immediately think of when they need help.
Weakness to the Information Platform: The Danger of Expansion
Wedding Day currently has 130 business partners on the site. Aidan said that all website owners face the same challenge of getting traffic, members, clicks or business partners, and these things equal profit. As your traffic grows and brings more partners, their earnings tend to get diluted by one another, and they will thus have to become more competitive. Wedding Day sees this, and set the right goal for themselves. “We are not going to recruit every single wedding service into our website. We just want the good ones, and that is why we spend so much time looking for them.” Wedding Day does not intend to expand their business scope. They simply provide what customers want. The wedding shoes and rings they are soon going to introduce, are exactly the items that are being discussed by the customers.
Aidan also mentioned that fewer and fewer people are getting married, and this will be a problem the wedding industry has to face one day. For this, he thought about extending their service in the future, but for now he will still focus on the content of their website
“Running a business will always have too many liabilities and too much risk, and you might already quit just by thinking about this.” Said Aidan.
Each member of the Wedding Day team has a unique background and experience, and the only similarity they share is that none of those is related to the wedding industry. Besides helping him find his team, joining AppWorks Accelerator also taught Aidan what it means to run a startup, “you have to get in there by yourself to understand the market and see the big picture, and AppWorks Accelerator taught us just that.” They also joked that an accelerator either accelerates your success or your death, which might not be a bad thing because business is all about taking risks. Worst case scenario is going back your old job.
Since Wedding Day was launched more than two years ago, they have built quite a community that can help people plan their weddings by providing options that are relatively more trustworthy. As for whether or not they are able to collaborate with the traditional wedding industry which has been around for over three decades, and will the online information platform be a solution for it while every other traditional industry is transforming, still remain to be seen.