One of the most emotionally charged purchases a woman might make in her life is the purchase of her wedding dress. Hit shows like TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress serve to further increase the hype surrounding the dress selection process, accompanied by dramatic reactions from family and doting sales associates. As so many brides-to-be have dreams of trying on gowns on a podium in a well-lit boutique, it seems that the bridal industry might have some immunity to the threat of eCommerce giants. Not so. More and more merchants are adapting to the digital age in order to stay relevant and to compete with online retailers.Buying a wedding gown is a highly involved decision, and for many, a tactile introduction to the product is a crucial part of the process. For a growing number of women, however, the Internet offers more convenience and deep discounts. While there are undoubtedly many happy customers, the results of online (especially overseas) purchases of wedding dresses can be disastrous.

Designer wedding gowns can be priced at upwards of $10,000, but budget-conscious brides are finding replicas at just a fraction of the price on the Internet. Many of these dresses, however, shock the consumer when they arrive looking a far cry from the photos online. It’s no surprise that a replica dress from China promising to look like an iconic Vera Wang turns up ill fitting with missing beads. Moreover, most bridal boutiques won’t do alterations on a dress that was purchased elsewhere; so even with a quality dress from a reputable and certified source, it could potentially be difficult to find a skilled dressmaker to do the necessary alterations.

Even with the obvious benefits of the brick-and-mortar experience, the bridal industry cannot stay stuck in the past. Crista of Dolce Bleu link explains how crucial it is to have an online presence.

Whether you sell products [online] or not, your online presence is absolutely essential to drive traffic to your store. We want people to be able to find us and learn about our store online, so we are constantly working on updating our website and getting our message out there on social media.

The Seattle-based boutique uses our software as part of their strategy to add up-to-date technology to a more traditional business model. Their highly trained yet relaxed sales associates offer attentive customer service and a fun experience that is impossible for online competitors to duplicate. In addition to complimentary champagne, they offer several post-purchase services including multiple fittings and safe storage for the dress until the customer is ready to bring it home.

Online shopping can be convenient, but your a wedding dress is mostly likely the one item that women should seriously consider purchasing in-store. For those who decide to buy online, make sure to find a reputable dressmaker and have a generous time frame. A good rule of thumb: if you find a designer dress online for $500 instead of $10,000, it’s probably too good to be true.