Avery Austin, a bridal retailer, has launched its e-commerce operations, according to a Monday press release.
The company introduced a "Try-at-Home" feature, which lets brides-to-be view wedding dresses, connect with virtual stylists and order their selections to try on from home, according to the company statement.
The company rolled out the "Try-at-Home" feature to reach brides who were wary of visiting traditional bridal salons during the COVID-19 pandemic, per the company statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for traditional bridal retail companies to service brides and their wedding parties, so Avery Austin saw this time as an opportunity to introduce the platform to consumers, Justin Yeh, co-founder of the Avery Austin brand, said in a statement. Though the company's e-commerce brand is new to the market, Avery Austin has been designing, manufacturing and selling bridal gowns for more than 30 years and opened its first store in 2010. The company now has five total locations, Yeh said in an email.
Though Avery Austin is opening its virtual doors to online shoppers, wedding startup Brideside closed down last month. Brideside's co-founder and CEO Nicole Staple told customers in an email that the wedding cancellations and overall uncertainty ahead led to the company's closure.
While other bridal retailers enter and exit the market, traditional players like David's Bridal have worked to modernize their digital offerings. Like Avery Austin, David's Bridal unveiled virtual styling appointments for customers. Throughout this year, David's Bridal has released a collection of tech tools, including a chatbot, 3D and augmented reality dress shopping and various virtual wedding planning tools. The company also teamed up with Popwallet to reach consumers via mobile wallets, launched its first loyalty program and acquired the Rustic Wedding Chic site.
Meanwhile, competitors are vying for a share of the bridal market. Before the pandemic forced non-essential retailers to close in March, Macy's collaborated with Zola on wedding registries. In February, Eloquii and Ella & Oak teamed up on a bridal pop-in tour. Once the pandemic shifted marriage ceremonies virtually, Jared also released its own virtual wedding planning tools in May.
Before the pandemic upended in-store bridal shopping, wedding retailers were already on the decline. However, it seems that the pandemic has pushed the wedding sector to accelerate the adoption of technology to reach consumers from afar.