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Wedding rentals (and order thresholds) boost revenue

When I launched My Wedding Decor in April 2015, the site had just 80 or so products for sale.

Three weeks passed and I received my first order, from a Sydney-based event company, of 150 gold mercury tea-light candleholders.

As naive as it seems now, I never considered pitching my wares to stylists, wedding planners, or even the corporate event market. I focused only on consumers. I thought my first order, from a company, was a fluke.

In August 2015, My Wedding Decor expanded its product offerings to include wedding decorations for hire — i.e., for rent. I had my first couple of hire orders from brides in early October 2015. A week later, I received a four-figure order from Max Mara, a fashion retailer, to hire ghost chairs for two catwalk events. I then received another from Monash University in Melbourne for centerpieces at its annual engineering dinner.

Event hires now comprise 62 percent of my revenue. Stylists, wedding planners, and the corporate event market make up 67 percent of this.

Event decor purchases and bespoke commissions from my bridal customers have grown a modest 140 percent in the last year. This compares to 850 percent from my corporate customers, one of which is a wedding planner in Fiji who ordered a gold cutlery set.

My website designer, iFormat, recognized that I needed to appeal to the event market — consumer and corporate — and launched my redesigned website on July 5, 2016. We allowed the redesign to permeate through Google during the Australian winter, a traditionally low period for event orders. The spring bridal season starts in September, and is underway by October.

However, my July website re-launch had a quick effect on sales. Bridal consumer decor hire revenue grew by 43 percent in the third quarter (July through September) over the second quarter (April through June). The corporate event market grew 246 percent over the same period.

While bridal hire revenue has dropped 30 percent in the last 12 months, the decline seems to have been arrested. Revenue from consumer hire orders from October 1-22, 2016 already matches the third quarter (July through September).

Why is this?

For one, October is the start of the peak bridal and party season. Also, on September 26 I introduced a minimum $200 hire order threshold, excluding delivery fees and a security deposit.

Most of my orders originate from Google, with highly specific product searches for a type of product or event theme. Unfortunately I discovered that too many visitors (corporate and consumer) wanted to hire only one item.

The final straw was the potential customer who wished to pick up one of my $59 lecterns for hire to eliminate delivery fees, and balked at the compulsory (but refundable) $100 deposit, at which point I declined her order.

The next day I introduced the rental threshold.

Not only does the threshold result in a higher value order, it compensates for my time. I spend as much time corresponding with clients regarding one item as I do for several items, and delivery and pickup is the same, too.

Instead of being able to hire, say, a wedding wishing well for $80, or a set of table numbers for $120, potential customers must now look around my website for further products to reach or pass the $200 threshold. This gets them better acquainted with my range, and often results in purchases along with the hire order.

My average daily hire revenue for October 1-22, 2016 is already 290 percent higher than in September, with the same number of customers.

Putting in a threshold spend seems to be working.

Could it work for your ecommerce site, too?

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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