Jennifer Qiao, the Co-founder of East Meets Dress jumped into the eCom Ops Podcast to share her knowledge and experience in eCommerce operations and the automation side of East Meets Dress. Check out all the other episodes here.
Learn more about Jennifer Qiao and East Meets Dress:
The start of the venture
The inspiration for ‘East Meets Dress’ came from Jennifer’s own wedding days when she struggled to find a modern-style “cheongsam” (straight, fitting closed, dress of silk, high neck and slit skirt, for Indonesian and Chinese women) to wear on her big day. Similar to many other Asian Americans, Jennifer wanted to honor her parents and culture, but finding a dress that was both – traditional and stylish was challenging.
Her two options were sketchy online stores or brick-and-mortar shops in Chinatown that lacked size options.
This got Jennifer and her maid of honor Vivian thinking. They both felt that Asian American brides across the globe should have more options for ‘traditional wedding wear’ and thus – the East Meets Dress was launched.
Initially, Jennifer and Vivian were not very confident about their idea. To test the waters, they created a landing page and invested $50 Facebook Ads to assess interest. As expected the feedback was great and gave the best friends motivation to go further with their plan.
Of course, they were both novice and the only eCommerce experience they had were as shoppers. But just like many other aspiring entrepreneurs, Jennifer and Vivian thought that the process would be easy. They started their bridal dress shop with only one dress – a replica of the design used by Jennifer for her wedding and gradually expanded their operation to selling 100 dresses in a month.
Challenges and obstacles
Glitches and hurdles are a part of any business – says Jennifer. For them, the biggest challenge was to get each dress tailored-fit and delivered on time. Especially during the current pandemic, the team faced a lot of disruption when China was under mandatory lockdown. Shipment was also delayed as they relied on only one shipping provider.
However, they have managed to overcome the obstacles since by using a variety of shipping services. Additionally, they have added a ‘Ship Now’ collection to their catalogue in order to cater to brides that require urgent deliveries.
Customer service at its best!
For the young duo, focus on the customer and their satisfaction with their service remains a top priority. They have a chat, phone, and email customer service available on their website to ensure the would-be brides face no hurdle ordering their dream dress. Additionally, they send out ‘progress pictures’ of the dresses that are under production for each bride so they can analyze how their bridal wear is turning out over time.
Jennifer and her team also include a special gift for each customer. This can be anything from a childhood favorite candy of China or chopsticks with the engraved date of the wedding to make the new couple happy.
Above all, each dress that is brought through East Meets Dress includes an alteration credit of $50, allowing the brides to have the dress altered if there are any measurement issues.
What is automation for East Meets Dress?
The team of friends puts a huge emphasis on automation. During the infancy stage of their business, Jennifer and Vivian, along with other two members handled each order manually – from order confirmation to translating the details in Chinese to their China-based dressmakers. However, they are now automating the processes that have lifted a huge workload off of their shoulders.
The future for East Meets Dress
For the next 12 months, Jennifer wants to simplify their protocols further. For starters, their packaging process is done manually and simplifying the same is in the works for East Meets Dress this year.
Additionally, the measurements for each dress received by the client is often problematic. The team has to go through a manual check of the measurements to assess everything is in order – and if they do come across an issue, they have to ask the customer to have it re checked by their specific tailor. However, the company is working on an app that will help with the measurement process in real time and identify any flaws immediately.
Jennifer’s biggest influence:
Jennifer’s inspiration comes from eCommerce blogs and starter stories of other online vendors.
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