It’s no secret that the wedding industry has grown to colossal proportions. In 2016, the average cost of a wedding reached an all-time high of $32,329, with the entire U.S. wedding industry hitting almost $72 billion.
After his wife and sister opened a bridal salon in 2003, Tom Esposito saw the potential to approach the industry with a tech perspective. Esposito saw the pains in keeping up with existing and incoming inventory while staying on top of orders. He started building out what would later become BridalLive, a B2B retail management system designed specifically for formalwear retailers.
“Our customers are retailers that sell wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, prom dresses, tuxedos and other formal attire,” says Esposito. “BridalLive is integral to the day-to-day operations of the store and includes CRM, inventory management, point of sale, and procurement features.”
In 2011, he made the jump to work on BridalLive full-time along with his co-founder and wife Rachel Esposito, to increase the startup’s initial 10 customers. Now, their team of seven has scaled the business to more than 750 retail clients worldwide, with most customers in North America, UK, and Australia.
BridalLive addresses three pain points within bridal and formalwear shops: meaningful metrics, workflow automation, and no umbrella software application to manage it all.
“Jumping around between all these applications in a retail environment just doesn’t work, but this is exactly what most shops are doing today,” says Esposito. “BridalLive puts all the critical functions of running a bridal shop in one system. This approach helps shops keep tabs on critical performance metrics like closing ratio as well as managing low value tasks such as booking and confirming appointments.”
With the management platform, the bridal shop can schedule appointments automatically, onboard quickly thanks to the software’s default product library that boasts over 25,000 gowns, and keep track of sales, credit card transactions, and special orders. BridalLive charges a monthly subscription along with additional support for shop owners.
With any industry that hasn’t adopted new software technology, startups can have a difficult time breaking into the market. Esposito sees this as a meaningful challenge as a founder — as it forces the startup get to know its clients’ needs and helps with retention.
“It’s true that our industry is a bit behind when adopting technology, but that’s been a good thing for us,” says Esposito. “We make a concerted effort to educate our new customers and make sure that every customer is getting the most value from our product.
“Once a shop has decided that BridalLive is the right software for them, we assign an onboarding specialist that helps build the relationship and ensure successful transition. We’ve tried a number of low-touch onboarding techniques, but we found that this method yields a higher lifetime value.”
In the next year, Esposito hopes to work on more product development and continue expanding to more shops in Europe with France, Germany, and Spain already on his list — helping brides say yes to the dress with less friction every time.