Store of the Future   //   January 27, 2020

David’s Bridal launches a new chatbot and Pinterest-like tools to help brides plan their weddings

David’s Bridal has launched a suite of online wedding planning tools, including a messaging chatbot named Zoey, aimed at helping people find and purchase their wedding looks. The idea is that a service layer will be enough to fend off competition and create a more seamless experience.

Taking a page from wedding planning services like Zola, David’s Bridal helping brides do save the dates, curate mood boards via Pinterest and of course embarking on finding the perfect wedding dress, all from their device.

The company has added more online features in recent years, such as improving consultation appointment bookings through its website and social media channels. However, CEO Jim Marcum said it hasn’t been enough to create a true uniform experience.

“We know that retailers have had competition from newcomers, but we’re in a unique position because we’re talking about an experiential purchase that’s tied to a lot of emotion and stress,” Marcum said, who said the chain sells 25% of wedding dresses in the U.S. He said that in the past, the company hadn’t always created a smooth hand off between online and brick and mortar, which resulted in conflicting qualities in their two channels.

By introducing a suite of tools to assist shoppers throughout the process, which may end up in store or online, David’s Bridal aims to make the often-stressful components of weddings more seamless. Marcum said this includes the introduction of an online vision board and checklist for the big day, which he says was a major ask from customers.

The request is no surprise, given that AI-powered conversational bots have been heavily used in the DTC space, with brands like Everlane and Zulily utilizing them to filter customer service requests.

Adapting to the social media era of wedding planning hasn’t been easy for David’s Bridal, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2018. Since then, the company has been on the path of reinvesting in a customer-first approach.

“I think we kind of lost our way and didn’t appreciate how the digital experience raised the customer’s expectations,” said Marcum, who joined the company last year.

Zoey, created by LivePerson, customers are able to ask for pricing details as well as in-store options, among other information. Messaging has been the preferred method for many customers, said the company, accounting for 45% contact center traffic. According to the company, since launching in beta last year, the feature has helped reduce contact center operating costs by over 30%.

With 7.5 out of 10 consumers preferring text messaging over calls or emails, vp of customer service and contact center operation Holly Carroll said Zoey is expected to help streamline customer service requests.

“Zoey is meant to connect the bride to our entire ecosystem, as well as pass along the information to our stylist by the time she walks into the store,” said Carroll. During testing in recent months, the feature has been credited with helping bump the retailer’s ratings and reviews through all channels from 4.5 stars to 4.7 stars.

With the addition of the mobile-friendly tools, David’s Bridal expect to help generate more revenue, as well as attract a younger customer base in the coming years.