Market Watch: Registry
Online option gives boost to registries
With the potential to boost sales and build customer
loyalty, gift and wedding registries have moved from the sole domain
of department stores and have found a home with specialty retailers
of all sizes and formats. Elsa Pinto-Melikian’s Your Registry
service is aimed at independent retailers.
Many more retailers are understanding the benefits
a registry service can bring, and computerization and wider access
to the Internet have made offering such a service more feasible
difficult to put a price tag on its impact, registries are definitely
bottom-line boosters. “A well-serviced and well-promoted registry
can boost a store’s wedding business by at least 33 percent,”
commented Tony DeMasi of DeMasi Marketing, Deptford, N.J., who is
working with the International Housewares Association on “Uptown,
Tabletop. Styled...From China Town to Wedding Way.” The daylong
program March 19 in Chicago before this year’s International
Home & Housewares Show covers all aspects of the wedding business,
including registry. (See related story)
DeMasi is among those who believe the Internet has
helped registry to grow significantly. “The Internet has made
all stores with online registries become international businesses,”
he said, “enabling anyone, anywhere, to buy from that registry.”
Although stores still offer in-store only registry
programs, DeMasi and others said those programs won’t have
nearly the success of online offerings. “Without Internet
services you’ve limited the amount of people who can shop
through this method and somewhat hampered the means the couple (has
to) keep track of what was purchased,” DeMasi noted.
Ron Eisenberg, owner of Great News! Discount Cookware
& Cooking School in San Diego, was among those who had tried
a registry under conventional methods in the past, but gave it up
until he could do it online.
“We stopped doing it about six years ago,”
he explained, “when computers became more and more prevalent.”
Without an online offering, he said, “we weren’t
very effective. We did maybe six a year.”
Recently, Eisenberg teamed with Your Registry, which
offers an on-line registry program for participating retailers.
Eisenberg said his initial plan was to do an online
registry on his own, but because his point-of-sale retail system
wasn’t able to integrate with a registry, Your Registry’s
program was a viable alternative.
is important, he said, not only for the boost it gives business
- Eisenberg hopes to see his registry program increase sales by
at least 15 percent - but also because it gives independent retailers
another selling tool. “It’s another thing that makes
us, an independent retailer, more potent in the marketplace,”
he said. “We have to compete and be as good as, if not better
than, the competition.”
Eisenberg said retailers such as Williams-Sonoma,
Macy’s, Crate & Barrel and Sur La Table all have gift
Your Registry Inc., which Eisenberg is using, was
started six years ago by President Elsa Pinto-Melikian. She said
the service developed in response to independent retailers who wanted
a national gift registry presence.
In doing her year-long research, Pinto-Melikian
said she found retailers wanted to be online, but “it was
too expensive to set up their own infrastructure.” Nor, she
said, were they able to provide 24/7 support. And in many cases,
she said, they didn’t even have a Web site.
“The majority (of smaller retailers) struggle
with having sufficient services to compete with the big box retailers,”
she said. “They wanted it (registry) to be hands-free; to
have someone to manage the data, the assurance to do better at it
and have the technology tools to manage it all.”
Even though Internet usage for actual purchasing
is still relatively small, Pinto-Melikian said “perception
is reality” and if a store doesn’t have an online registry,
couples will go elsewhere for the service.
For a monthly fee, retailers receive an online registry
program along with 24/7 customer service.
Additionally, Pinto-Melikian said, they can opt
to receive in-store support such as presentation materials, scanners
for customers to use to select registry items and consultative services.
Your Registry services more than 100 retailers, including the Viking
Culinary Centers and several Ace Hardware dealers.
If retailers participate fully, she said, meaning
they allocate sufficient time, resources and staff, they will experience
increased sales of 15 percent to 20 percent. But, Pinto-Melikian
said, most retailers “underutilized the service” and
thus have seen sales increases more in the 2 percent to 5 percent
Pinto-Melikian said successful programs have someone
in the store, preferably not the owner, “who is where the
buck stops - is the registry expert.”
DeMasi agreed registry works best “if it is
taken seriously and done professionally.” Rather than a single
registry person, DeMasi advocates “at least two people should
be completely knowledgeable of all the registry’s services.”
After all, he said, “retailers must realize
that a registry is not a ‘nice little service.’ It’s
a business center unto itself and requires the proper time and talent
to make it happen.”
Eisenberg said he designated his retail manager
as the registry point person, along with some sales associates who
are trained to work with customers on registry. He has also availed
himself of Pinto-Melikian’s training and uses Your Registry-supplied
signage and buttons to promote the program in-house.
In addition, he has put his own twist on registry,
offering registrants a couple of free cooking classes if they use
his service. He also launched a gift registry for recent victims
of the San Diego-area wildfires, offering a 15 percent discount
so friends and family in the area and around the country can help
the victims re-stock their homes.
“It’s working, and it’s appreciated,”
Eisenberg said of the promotion.
©2004 United Publications, Inc.