As we near the end of 2017, I feel compelled to offer my thoughts on The State of the Industry. . . so at the risk of oversimplification, the state of the industry is. . . Change. . . and yet same as it ever was.
    Change in the fact that we are facing significant changes in our marketplace, in our consumer, in how we conduct the business of bridal.  But “same as it ever was” in the sense that through the years we have successfully weathered other such major storms.
    We’ve thrived through 800 toll free numbers offering discounts to a national audience, the at-home cottage industry of Discount Bridal Service, the expansion of David’s Bridal into a national chain, major manufacturers opening their own network of company stores, and the development of the Wild Wild Web.
    We’ve done so by adapting while remaining true to who we are and what we offer, which is why I am cautiously optimistic about the state of the industry today and tomorrow. I believe our best… which is an unwavering focus on our customer and her needs; offering a well-presented, curated selection of merchandise; having employees who know the product, how to personalize it while genuinely listening to our customers; providing a welcoming and warm environment while being technologically relevant; and accepting the role of leader in our community. . . is exactly what your Millennial brides want and expect.
    All the studies about Millennials indicate that they want to buy from you, they want the in-store experience. But they demand that that experience is about them, that you listen and understand their needs and tailor solutions to those needs. Essentially, what they are expecting is what you excel at. . . the soft, emotional skills that connect.
    So if what we offer is what our customers want, why then does it seem at times so insurmountable?
    Again, at the risk of oversimplification. . . it is how we mentally deal with these outside forces that is often the difference between surviving and excelling.
    The storms we currently face will challenge us. . . and we’ve got some big ones with expanding ecommerce from deep-pocketed competitors, the explosion of Chinese factories promoting counterfeit goods at a discount, (and potentially efforts to sell direct to brides), manufacturers abandoning stores and selling direct online, and the struggle of staying technologically current.
    However, when we rely on who we are. . . upbeat and genuinely present and engaging with brides and staff; accepting that their buying behavior is no different than our own; training amazing employees; being a thoughtful and discriminating buyer, and curious about the world around us. . . we can actually enjoy the ride!
    My best for the coming season.