DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017

Here Comes the Bridal Registry

   

By Jan Fialkow
 Gift registries help retailers attract and keep millennial customers

Kitchenware retailers that want their business to thrive have to adjust to a new world. "They can no longer rely on the 45-year-old married — or divorced — customer for growth," says Elsa Pinto-Melikian, founder and president of Sacramento, Calif.-based The Registry Network (formerly Your Gift Registry). Rather, she says, they must reach out to millennials.

A prime way to do this is with a bridal/wedding registry because a registry creates an opportunity to establish a relationship with this important cohort of customers who are just beginning to set up a home. According to Pinto-Melikian, almost 100 percent of the brides that register at the independent retailers that use her services are 19- to 36-year-old millennials who are getting married for the first time.

The Registry Network, now 17 years old, is "an outsource registry provider ... that works only with independent retailers. If a store wants to offer a registry online, we have the solutions," she says.

When a retailer signs on with The Registry Network, consumers access the retailer's registry service through the retailer's website. "As a full-service provider, we can create a registry page that matches a retailer's current website or even design the website itself," Pinto-Melikian adds. "Creating a registry page has no start-up costs, and the page can be up and running in as little as two days."

Not Your Mother's Registry
The days when brides were OK with a store that didn't have an online registry are over, says Pinto-Melikian. "Stores will miss out if brides can't register and then have gifts purchased online. If the items on the registry can't be seen online, the perception is they won't get what they want." Since the chains offer online registries, "Independents must be in the game," she advises.

Pinto-Melikian cites data from Condé-Nast, publisher of Brides magazine and Brides.com, that says 90 percent of brides expect their registry data to be online.

If a retailer offers brides the option to come into the store and fill out her registry items on paper, The Registry Network will take the paper lists and make the items available online, matching pictures of the items through vendor UPCs. The list is then shoppable from the retailer's website. But, she cautions, "The paper life is gone. It's more cumbersome for the store and not what young couples want."

As soon as a purchase occurs online, The Registry Network transfers the information to the store so the purchase transaction can occur at the store. If a customer comes into the store to make a purchase, it is the store's responsibility to let The Registry Network know so that the registry can be updated.

Many couples have older relatives who may not have web access or be comfortable with ordering online. The Registry Network has an 800 number they can call to be guided through the purchasing process, Pinto-Melikian says.

She recommends that registry pages be kept live for at least one year after the wedding date. This provides the bride with an opportunity to receive everything on her list; gifts not purchased at the time of a shower or wedding can be purchased as a birthday, holiday or anniversary gift.

She advises retailers to start promoting their registries 30 to 45 days before Christmas. Contrary to popular belief, she says, most engagements happen during the Christmas season (rather than at Valentine's Day). These couples start making wedding plans in March, and by April, registries are inundated with sign-ups. Promoting during the heavy seasonal traffic just makes sense.

From the Registrants' Point of View
While registering couples are investigating shipping costs, return policies, completion discounts and freebies. Make sure your shipping costs and return policies are reasonable and easily understood. Some chains offer discounts if not everything on the list is purchased; this may not be desirable for independents but you should at least know that other stores are offering them. Freebies can be in the form of a promo item, coupon, discount, sample or combination.


Fast Fact
90 percent of brides expect their registry data to be online
Source: Condé-Nast


Bring 'Em in and Bring 'Em Back
At Marcel's Culinary Experience, TGR's 2015 Kitchenware Retailer of the Year and U.S. gia winner for independent kitchenware retail, the bridal and gift registry is an important tool for building customer loyalty. According to owner Jill Foucré, brides are encouraged to make an appointment to come into the store to register. Although the registry is available online, the act of registering must be done in person.

The registry is promoted through in-store signage, brochures, in the newsletter and on Facebook. "We participate in a wedding walk each year in the downtown area and partner with a custom veil shop, some (local) jewelers and a fine paper shop that does a lot of invitations. We also have events and mailings," she explains. "Sometimes," she adds, "brides come in because we carry specific items they want. They can register for some of their items here, some elsewhere."

Those wishing to purchase something from the list can sort it by price, what's still available, vendor and quantity. To buy, they have to come in or order by phone.

Marcel's gift registry is run through the POS system, NCR's Counterpoint SQL. Marcel's registry is updated manually at least once a week.

Although most of the registrants are brides, the retailer encourages using the registry for gifts in general. In a bit of a throwback, the store also offers "a more rudimentary tool — a wish list," Foucré says. "Anyone can take one, fill it out and hand it to a spouse. It's a way of saying, "Here's what I want." The paper wish lists and registry brochures are available in the place settings area.

At Simplee Gourmet, Covington, La., owner Melissa Marley says brides come into the store to register and then everything is available online. Brides who register at TheKnot.com can also contact Simplee Gourmet through the website to set up a registry through the store. Marley also translates the online registry into an in-store presence. All of the items in a registry are pulled together on a table. Customers come in and can view the items. She says it takes away the awkwardness that can be caused by asking how much they want to spend. As of late September, Simplee Gourmet had "eight bride's tables in the store. They're for couples having showers and other events this year. We'll have more to set up for 2017," Marley says.

Gift registries help drive sales, especially during the summer months. "What dictates our sales is wrapped around registries," explains Teresa Adams-Tomka, owner of Kitchen Collage in Des Moines, Iowa, featured in this issue's Buyer's Corner on page 66.

Cookware and knives are popular gift registry items. The majority of the cookware sets are sold through the gift registry. "If the purchase is for a cookware set, it's a planned gift from multiple individuals. Or they may have a shower, and that's the gift for the shower," she explains.

There's more than one way to create an online gift registry.
The Knot (theknot.com) offers engaged couples an opportunity to create their own wedding page. The site also allows couples to set up a registry at any retailer affiliated with the site. Retailers run the gamut from large chains to local independents.