A U.S. company is reimagining the way brides shop for their perfect wedding dress, shifting the experience from a what could be a stressful in-store event to what they hope will be an easy and convenient at-home celebration.
Jeff Cardoso, vice-president of operations at online retailer Azazie, said the company’s At-Home, Try-Before-You-Buy strategy has worked exceptionally well for bridesmaids over the past few years. Now they are pushing forward with recreating the same experience for brides.
Azazie allows brides to shop via a try-at-home model with easy returns.
This is how it works: Customers browse the Azazie website and can choose to have three dresses sent to their home for a nominal fee (US$10 to $15 per dress). They then have about a week to try it on before they return it free of charge. If they want to keep the dress, they can return the ones they don’t want and either purchase the sample or send in their measurements to Azazie for a custom fit.
“What will happen now is the bride and bridesmaids get the dresses and then they have a get-together with a try-on party at home,” Jeff said. “But now we are looking at ways to make that an even more robust and special unboxing experience for the group.”
A big part of the experience is providing their customers with a frictionless way to return the items.
A 2022 study commissioned by PayPal titled “Returns Happen” found that 54% of consumers prefer in-person drop off at either the retailer’s store or third-party stores. This ranks high above home pickup, even when home pickup is free. It also found 79% of consumers try to avoid mail-in returns whenever possible, and this number skews higher (83%) for those under 30.
Azazie looked to Happy Returns, a PayPal company, to facilitate their returns process.
Happy Returns offers consumers the ability to return items in-person, without needing to box the items or print a label. It boasts an expansive Return Bar network with more than 5,000 locations at popular retailers across the U.S. For the merchant, Happy Returns is a money saver. These return bars allow merchants to aggregate items and can help save up to 40% on return shipping costs.
Azazie VP of Operations Jeff Cardoso.
“For us, the Happy Returns collaboration has been perfect,” Jeff said. “The fact that the returns get bundled up and shipped in bulk is a great saving for us. It’s also been faster for us once the products get to our warehouse so that was also a benefit. But I think in the beginning, it wasn’t so much about the cost savings for us but about customer retention. The returns are part of our process – they’re not going anywhere – and Happy Returns makes it easy.”
The company’s Net Promoter Score from shopper survey responses found 94% of Azazie’s customers say they would recommend Happy Returns to a friend.
“It’s very strong in terms of the overall score,” he said.
Azazie has seen significant growth in the past few years, particularly as the pandemic and subsequent store closures shifted the way people had to shop for formal wear. The company saw 200% growth in 2021 and continued to experience growth even after stores reopened and weddings were back on schedule, Jeff said.
“We’re seeing that people have really begun to be quite innovative and great at finding flexible and cost-effective solutions when it comes to wedding planning,” he said. “And the great thing is they are coming to Azazie to help fill those needs.”
The Modern Enterprise series explores the issues and opportunities shaping today’s most successful companies. Read about innovations that change the competition, new ways of doing business that consumers have come to expect, and hear from a variety of industry leaders on their decisions and the lessons they’ve learned. Sign up for the newsletter here. For more on how PayPal or Happy Returns can help your company, visit PayPal for Enterprise or Happy Returns.
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