Responding to its increasingly mobile customer base, David’s Bridal has used developer Prolific Interactive to launch a commerce-enabled app for brides with iPhones and iPads.

While a bride may be committed to settling down, she is still a mobile woman.

In fact, 60% of wedding retailer David’s Bridal Inc.’s total web traffic stems from a mobile device, 50% from smartphones and 10% from tablets, says Bill Quinn, vice president of digital at David’s Bridal, No. 347 in the 2015 Internet Retailer Mobile 500.

Quinn describes David’s bride customers as “very, very mobile,” and decided to create an app to better serve them.

“We realize customers do prefer apps,” Quinn says. “90% of our brides have apps on their phones, and 50% of those brides have a wedding app,” he adds, citing research from a survey the retailer conducted in summer 2013.

David’s rolled out the app for Apple users Dec. 21 and is expected to debut its app for Android in mid-January.

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“We see the bulk of our mobile transactions from Apple users—iPads and iPhones—so we wanted to start with that, fast,” he says. “We still do see a fair amount of traffic from Android, but fewer transactions.” The timing for the app launches couldn’t have been better, Quinn says. Unlike most retailers who finish the year strong, David’s Bridal’s busiest season is the first quarter, which Quinn attributes to holiday season engagements. Come January, brides are ready to start researching, planning and shopping.

David’s chose Prolific Interactive, a mobile site and app developer that has built mobile apps for Lululemon Athletica Inc., Threadless and ModCloth.com, because of the mobile firm’s depth of experience, cultural fit and overall presentation, Quinn says.

Both parties were pleased with the communication during the year-long process, in which 160 builds were created before the final app was just right.

“It’s a pretty impressive number of iterations to get things right for our customers,” Quinn says.

The cost to build the app was “within industry norms” and “was the right price given the quality of work that we got,” Quinn says. Mobile commerce apps run the gamut from $100,000 to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the retailer and the scope of the project, m-commerce experts say.

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After surveying 1,000 recently engaged women, the retailer had a better idea of what shoppers were looking for in a mobile commerce app: No. 1 was the ability to view all products the merchant offers. The second priority was to enable customers to note their favorite products and to save them for future review. And the third priority was to help a bride find the right dress before she comes into a store.

While the first two priorities were simple enough, David’s Bridal knew it had to nail the third initiative.

“We heard that loud and clear, we have such a large collection,” Quinn says. “The challenge is you can only try on so many before you hit fatigue level.” 

The mobile app has a “dress finder” feature so brides can narrow their focus before they get into a store. Through a series of questions about style, strap and silhouette preferences, plus describing the tone and feeling of the ceremony and reception, the app provides the bride with a customized list of dresses likely to suit her. This way, she can walk into the retail location and know which dresses she wants to try on. The dress finder feature was built for the app and does not appear on David’s web site.

“I definitely think the dress experience is perfect for the app environment,” Quinn says. “When we reviewed the data obtained in our survey, we found that a feature such as Dress Finder is something that brides want and need in an app. The Dress Finder feature fits well into a native app interface, making it a user-friendly experience.”

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In order to view the dresses the “dress finder” found for the user or back up any of the favorites the customer wants saved, the app will prompt the customer for her e-mail address. Having that e-mail address allows the merchant to follow up with marketing messages and suggestions.

Customers can complete purchases within the app. While Quinn knows a woman isn’t likely to buy her wedding dress without seeing it in person, David’s Bridal does sell accessories, shoes, gifts and special occasion dresses online, and these are offered in the app, as well.

Besides shopping, customers can also locate and view David’s Bridal retail stores and book store appointments in the app.

The app is just at its starting point, Quinn says, and over the next nine months he plans to add a significant number of enhancements, including enabling one-touch checkout with Apple Pay.

David’s Bridal has adopted a mobile-first approach to selling online, debuting the Apple app, readying the Android app, and, in October, launching a responsive design site conceived first with mobile devices in mind; Quinn says customers have been enthusiastic about the new site. A responsive design site enables a retailer to build one site using one code base and one set of web content that automatically fits the size of a screen on a device requesting a web page, changing the orientation and location of content on a page.

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“We feel like a combination of the apps and responsive web site is a very good start in serving what our brides want from us,” Quinn says.

Follow mobile business journalist April Dahlquist, associate editor, mobile, at Internet Retailer, at @MobileInsiderAD.

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