Registry Evolves Beyond Wedding, Baby To Capture Key Life Moments

The registry marketplace in recent years has continued to evolve and move beyond key life moments such as weddings and the birth of a baby.

A growing number of consumers today are using registry programs offered by retailers and third-party sources such as to develop lists of products sought to help celebrate important life moments such as graduation, back-to-college, housewarmings and Christmas.

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Experts in the world of registry said this growth in recent years has been driven largely by consumers recognizing the usefulness of establishing registries for other key life moments. And while most retailers have registry programs in place, the need to enhance how they market those programs and expand the products consumers can add to a registry is key to further growth and new sales opportunities.

“Retailers need to make sure a broad range of items are eligible for registry,” said Nancy Lee, president of “For example, we knew of a major retailer that did not have handbags available to be selected for registries. You never know what people will want to add to their registry.”

In addition, experts also noted that retailers need to highlight the opportunity to register for moments such as back-to-college and holiday in the months preceding these seasonal events.

The continued evolution of registry beyond wedding and baby comes at a good time for retailers that are looking for ways to give their registry business a boost. While the big two (wedding and baby) remain the most popular choices for using a registry, the trend of Millennials marrying at an older age than previous generations, and subsequently starting families later in life, provide new challenges to retailers as they look to drive sales through their registry programs.

As a result, other registry options such as graduation, back-to-college, housewarming and more recently the fourth quarter holiday season are providing retailers new opportunities to engage with consumers and simplify the gift-giving task for family and friends of the registrant.

“The idea of using a registry for something like back-to-college is relatively new and something we have seen grow over the past 10 to 15 years,” said Susan Miller, svp with

Lee also noted that the number of registries during the 2018 holiday shopping season grew at a pace faster than she has seen in previous years. While not providing specific figures, she did say that activity on during the fourth quarter was equal to levels seen during the middle of wedding registry season that takes place in the second and third quarters.

“No matter how old one’s children are, in the end, the registry is really a gift list,” she said. “It allows kids to choose what they want while also making it easy for people to buy a gift. These are the big reasons why it continues to grow.”

One of the early hurdles for the expansion of how consumers use registries was the mindset of those creating registries for other events such as housewares or back-to-college. Some may have had feelings of awkwardness when creating a list of products for others to purchase for them.

However, the benefits of using a registry such as convenience, getting what they want/need and eliminating returns served to offset any awkward feelings.

“People know what they want and in the case of Millennials they are living in homes that have limited space,” Miller said. “There is also a greater appreciation from friends and family when they are able to easily purchase a gift that is wanted.”

Retailers are also benefitting from the expansion of registry, which goes beyond the opportunity to simply sell more items to consumers. One of the big benefits is the diminished amount of product returns stores are forced to deal with.

“When a person is able to buy a specific gift for another, the return rate in most cases is less than 5% and can be as low as less than 2%,” Lee said. “For the retailer, they don’t have to deal with the costs associated with touching and restocking items. In addition, this also provides an opportunity for retailers to cultivate new customers.”

According to figures provided to HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® by, more than 60% of gift-givers accessing a registry are new to that retailer’s database, which provides a retailer the opportunity to reach new shoppers and avoid costly customer acquisition programs.

In addition, as many as 1-in-3 gift-givers buy something for themselves at the same time, leading to a larger sale for the retailer.

The growing use of registries is also opening new opportunities for retailers and providing areas of growth for, Lee noted. For those retailers that offer a specific assortment of products such as housewares or items for the home, platforms such as provides specialty retailers the opportunity to meet the broad needs of today’s registrants.

With consumers today now willing to register for products ranging from blenders and dinnerware to non-traditional registry items such as sporting goods and even items for pets, the need to have access to a broader assortment of products is crucial to retailers running a successful registry program.

Lee noted that services such as give retailers of all sizes the option of having a registry service. For example, a home products-focused retailer that does not offer outdoor products is still able to reap the rewards of a registry.

The registrant, she noted, chooses home products from one retailer and is also able to select products from other retailers in an effort to register for all the products they want.

“When people shop the registry choose a product, the retailer that is selling that given product will get credit for the sale,” she said.

For the complete 2019 Registry Report, see the March 18 edition of HomeWorld Business.