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09/16/2022

Exclusive Q&A: Bridal retailer Azazie supports rapid growth with customer focus

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Ranu Coleman
Ranu Coleman, chief marketing officer, Azazie

The direct-to-consumer bridal retailer Azazie keeps the “consumer” at the focus of its efforts.

Chain Store Age recently sat down with Ranu Coleman, chief marketing officer of Azazie, which was recently recognized as “America’s Fastest Growing Online Shop” in the women’s fashion and accessories category by Newsweek. The company, which is fully online, has been in business since 2014.

Coleman explained how Azazie follows a carefully crafted customer engagement approach that extends across all touchpoints.

How did Azazie get started?
Our founder Charles Zhong and his wife were planning their own wedding and became pretty frustrated by the process of buying a wedding dress. They realized it was very costly.  Also, a lot of the gowns that his wife was looking at didn't fit every body type well.  This gave him the idea to create a platform that would essentially cut out the middleman and deliver a very high-quality custom-fit dress to the consumer directly.

He wanted to create a company that would help brides of every shape and size obtain a finer dress, within their budget. And he wanted it to be done from the comfort of their own home versus a traditional brick-and-mortar store. And now we serve around one in 10 brides.

What is Azazie’s customer engagement strategy?
We try to bring the most prized characteristics of the more traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience to the online space, while also modernizing it. Azazie is always focused on prioritizing ease, convenience and, definitely, affordability.

We do a lot of it through our at home try-on program, where the customer can try on all of their dresses at home before they make their purchase. And then we also have our virtual showroom, which is a really great feature — especially if your bridal party is scattered all over the country. You can create the showroom online, invite everyone, pick dresses, and virtually chat about them all directly in the showroom.

Azazie is also definitely focused on influencer marketing, and creating a very strong presence on social media.

In addition, we recently partnered with Afterpay [the buy now, pay later payment platform] to help our brides pay off large purchases such as wedding dresses. This has helped us overall, and in terms of our overall average order value.

[Read more: CSA Exclusive: Creating online impact with social influencers]

What are some important customer service initiatives?
We have expanded our customer service support hours. We now offer more hours now during the weekdays and we have a full customer service team on the weekend.

Azazie has also launched AI-based chatbot support and expanded our knowledge base to provide more self-help to customers who might want it.

We also have begin measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty with a net promoter score program. This has definitely helped us to see not only how our customer service team is perceived, but also how our brand and overall quality is perceived and where we should be making improvements.

Can you discuss the details of Azazie’s partnership with Happy Returns?
As an e-commerce-only company, I think return convenience is really critical. Partnering with Happy Returns has provided us with thousands of additional drop-off locations for our customers. This has helped make the return experience much easier for services such as our home try-on program as well as for managing returns of our regular inventory.

We have seen a significant cost savings on those return shipments. And that helps us a lot as inflation and shipping have obviously continued to be a cost. We didn't want to pass that on to our customers.

Also, since Azazie has a sustainable business model, we like partnering with Happy Returns because their reverse logistics process helps us reduce our carbon footprint as shipments are gathered and consolidated prior to being returned to us. Customers love it. We've seen very positive feedback around the service.

[Read more: The next era of DTC is ‘direct-to-community’]

Are there any future customer engagement or marketing plans you can discuss?
In general, Azazie is pretty heavily focused on expanding and diversifying its product categories. There are definitely some new products and initiatives we're trying to get into, and we will definitely be partnering with additional brands. We're always looking for a brand that has a good synergy with us.

From a marketing perspective, Azazie is trying to amp up our influencer program, especially through Instagram and TikTok.