Universal Registries Expand Retailer, Vendor Presence

NEW YORK— Say goodbye to the registry scan gun and say hello to the universal registry. The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel retailing has driven the rise of universal registries in the market. Bridal couples and gift-giving consumers are finding that using one universal gift hub is creating a unified, personal and flexible registry platform for all their possible lifestyle needs, from the wedding to the baby and the home.

Universal registries have been around for a little over a decade, Susan Miller, svp/business development, MyRegistry.com, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® and the use of these types of registries has grown steadily overall. They are now chosen by one in six registrants, she noted.

This number is only slated to grow as more retailers, from big box to small town boutiques, are taking advantage of universal platforms as a way to expand their consumer base, grow further exposure of their brand, and to become more top of mind with these consumers when it comes time for gift registering, or just gift giving. Many retailer, as well as participating manufacturer e-commerce sites, are also creating awareness by letting the consumer know that they are participating in the universal registry platform.

Universal registries started as a consumer solution, noted Miller, responding to the consumer desire to aggregate items from multiple retailers on a single list. Examples of such sites include Amazon, Zola and My Registry. Another form of universal registries are sites that aggregate registry lists. Consumers create registries with retailers with their own service and have them all linked and accessible at a single site. Sites such as The Knot and The Bump sync lists from multiple retailers that consumers can view at their bridal platforms.

From a retail standpoint, having a universal registry has many benefits. It allows the retailer to target registrants and purchasers beyond their location, which both increases brand awareness and sales potential, particularly for independent stores and boutiques, noted Miller.

“Traditional registries at major retailers are still far more common, because they are more well known. In contrast, local retailers and small boutiques are used far less often, by less than 5% of registrants, so these players lose out if they rely solely on their own registries,” Miller explained.

The exposure, however, is a benefit for any retailer. According to MyRegistry.com, 60% of purchases originating from its registry lists were made by first time customers to that retailer’s website— new customers that the retailers were able to add to their databases, Miller noted. 

In addition, guests coming to buy from an aggregated item list on a universal gift registry will see the retailer’s logo coinciding with products from its site regardless of what they choose to purchase.

What MyRegistry does is allow retailers to use its universal software solution to be able to offer a registry service to their consumers, and in turn let their customers take advantage of the convenience of the universal registry list, explained Miller.

Hundreds of companies now use the software, including single store businesses, online only businesses as well as major store chains. A sampling of My Registry’s retail partners include Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table, Macy’s, West Elm, Anthropologie, Bloomingdale’s, Target, Amazon, Walmart, ShopKo, Cost Plus World Market and Ethan Allen. 

Examples of manufacturer sites linking up with MyRegistry.com are Noritake, Kosta Boda, Jay Companies, Fiesta from Homer Laughlin China, Panasonic, Lenox and Lifetime Brands’ Pfaltzgraff.

In addition, a unique feature of MyRegistry.com is a “Merchant Dashboard,” which provides retail partners with comprehensive reporting on registry activity that can be downloaded for the retailer’s internal analysis and marketing purposes. Retailers are able to track all customers who opened registries through the store as well as get registrant event date information.

From the dashboard, retailers can also get information about what store locations’ kiosk items in the registry are being purchased from, and can therefore start to analyze why which ones are outperforming others. The retailer also gains “gift data,” tracking all gifts added to registries from their stores, including statistics on the most popular registry items, which is also searchable by a specific time frame. Retailers can also see whether a gift was added to a wedding or baby registry or a wish list, and get a breakdown of sales online versus in-store.

Design, implementation and ongoing service and technical support burdens rest with MyRegistry.com, while the purchases are handled directly by the retailer, so that the retailer can maintain the customer service relationship with their consumers, MyRegistry noted.