Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Wedding Bliss Lane – The rise of an E-Commerce site for all things wedding related

My wife is a wedding invitation designer. The majority of her sales are through on-line marketplaces such as Ebay and Etsy. She was designing wedding invitations for her younger cousin who is in her mid twenties. In speaking with her cousin, she mentioned how she was doing everything for her wedding on line – ordering favors, jewelry and even her photographer. Nothing my wife and I would have done when we got married 10 years ago. But this is Generation Y, everything is done on-line.

Based on this conversation, I got the idea about an on-line marketplace that is strictly for weddings, an e-commerce site where vendors from all over the world can sell their unique and creative wedding items. One place a bride (or anyone planning a wedding, in a wedding or attending a wedding) can go to in order to find anything and everything they need for the big day. I began researching the idea and found some e-commerce wedding sites, but they were niches, such as budget brides or recycling wedding supplies. There was not one main site where someone could find everything they needed for a wedding, from bridal shower gifts to tiaras.

My wife loved the idea and we spent a few hours on Go Daddy looking up domain names. Hence “Wedding Bliss Lane” was born. It only cost $10 to buy the domain name. We then created an LLC, which cost another $120. I then did several months of research on e-commerce website developers. Being in the New York metro area, the majority of developers were quoting prices of $15,000 – $30,000. One developer recommended a company they worked with in Washington State. I contacted them and they quoted a price of $9000. After speaking with them several times and viewing their proposal, we decided to go with them.

The whole site development process took approximately eight months. With my wife being an active seller on other sites, she had recommendations on what to add or not include based on her experiences. After what seemed like endless testing of all features on the website, we went live on October 1, 2010. The next step was to start getting vendors to sign up and list their products. My wife started contacting suppliers she used for her invitation business and I began looking up possible vendors on the internet. We highlighted all the free perks that vendors receive on our site such as free store creation and maintenance, and blogs that they can submit to us and have a link to their store on our site.

We then created a Facebook page the end of October 2010, and started to spread the word to all our “friends” and vendors. We focused on contacting brides as well, now that there were several hundred items listed on the site, and Facebook was very useful in connecting with them. My wife also used address lists she received from Bridal Shows she presented her invitations at. To keep our site active in vendor and member’s minds, every day on Facebook we have a “pick of the day” which is an item that we choose from one of our vendors to showcase on our Facebook page. We update the Blog weekly and send out an email advising them that it is available. We also use Facebook and our internal mailing system as a platform to announce any upcoming “giveaways” that our vendors use to promote their stores, and to be eligible for these giveaways the winner must register on our site.

Currently the only employees of Wedding Bliss Lane are my wife and I. However, we are experiencing growth every day with new vendors signing up and new members joining. As of December 31, 2010 we have over 400 members and vendors located from all over the world (such as Canada, China, Australia, France, Israel, United States, etc…) and have over 1000 items listed for sale. The site is currently in “beta testing” and during this time period we have chosen not to charge any listing fees or commissions. We will be in the red until beta is over, which we estimate will be the end of summer 2011. At that time, we will charge $.15 per listing which will be good for a 3 month time period. When an item sells we will charge a commission of 3.5%. Other services we will sell (free during beta) are Featured Seller and Seller Showcase advertising sections of the site. The Featured Seller is a prominent position at the top of the home page (with a link to the store) where one vendor will display 2 items at a time and a small bio of the vendor. The Seller Showcases are displayed as a module at the top of the page for each Category. These Showcases feature item listings from 25 sellers weekly. After beta, we will charge $10 per week for a Featured Seller listing and $5 per week for a Seller Showcase listing.

The best piece of advice I ever heard was “the biggest mistake you can make is not trying”, which was my logic in developing the site. Too often people are scared to take a chance on an idea they have or an opportunity that they see. Fear of failure is something that needs to be overcome. To make Wedding Bliss Lane the success I think it can be, it is important to create brand awareness. By doing this, people will recognize Wedding Bliss Lane as the “go to place” for wedding items. In order to achieve this brand awareness, we are using all the contacts we have to get our name out there – bloggers, Facebook, bridal shows, newspapers, etc. In trying to achieve rapid adoption of our site, we have made the site extremely affordable for vendors to create stores and sell items because we want them to feel that they are getting a great value for their money. Likewise for brides and grooms, we want them to have one place to go where they can find everything they need to help them plan their wedding, and for all other users as a place where they can find that special or unique gift for the happy couple. A place of convenience and expediency rather than spending countless hours searching on the Internet for shoes in one place, veils in another, favors in another, etc… We truly feel that we have created a website that is a great value to not only buyers but also to sellers.

Wedding Bliss Lane

Sal and Jackie Asta
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