'Your Registry' Helps Put Independent
Retailers On The Bridal Map
SACRAMENTO, CA — Elsa Pinto-Melikian's interest
in gift registries began about six years ago, when she herself was
She and her husband, Armen, wanted to register at
stores without in-house registry services, so they decided to create
their own registry list and have the maid of honor manage it.
that they were on to something, the couple founded Your Registry
The company is headquartered in Sacramento, CA,
and has an area office in Cody, WY.
There are four full-time employees, and about 34
part-time employees. Your Registry provides registry services for
retail and service merchants and their clients. Its customers are
independent retailers and specialty stores, which number in the
"I saw a need for these services," said
Pinto-Melikian, president of Your Registry, who has extensive sales
and marketing experience. "I'm partial to shopping at small
retailers. They have better products and service."
For many small stores, managing a gift registry
isn't cost-effective. "If you look at the landscape of national
gift registries, they are really dominated by national chain stores,"
noted Pinto-Melikian. "Independent retailers can't logistically
offer service when you look at the cost of the infrastructure. It's
not in their realm."
When Pinto-Melikian discovered flaws in the registry
process for independents, she started talking to the retailers.
"I spoke to them a lot over the course of a year," she
said. "In order to have a national registry, you need Internet-based
access across the nation. You need a customer service center independent
of the store, and consistent service."
Your Registry has created affordable merchandising
services and gift registry services, according to Pinto-Melikian.
Your Registry offers two different programs. The
Complete Service Program includes a 24/7 year-round, toll-free Registry
Customer Service Center, web access to registry lists, ongoing gift
registry, guest and registrant support, management of orders generated
from the website and toll-free number, and iPAQ programming and
integration to the dealer's computer system. A registry manual,
custom registration packets, personalized brochures and registry
tip cards are supplied to retailers.
In addition, the company produces custom-made announcement
cards for the couples registered at each retailer. The cards list
each couple's names and notify guests that they are registered.
The website, toll-free number and guest password are also included
on the cards.
make the process easy for retailers, Pinto-Melikian travels to the
stores using the full-service program to get them started. She trains
the staff, sets up the registry service and helps the retailer plan
the advertising, merchandising and marketing. Because retailers
who choose this program need to be able to make a time commitment,
she has in-depth discussions with them before they sign a contract.
This way, she can make sure the program will work for them.
For retailers who don't want all of the services,
there's the A La Carte Program. It also provides the year-round
Registry Customer Service Center and web access to lists, as well
as a CD with custom registration forms. However, all materials,
registry services and iPAQ scanning devices are a la carte and at
an additional cost.
Your Registry takes a very hands-on approach when
dealing with bride's registry lists. Pinto-Melikian said her experience
has given her a strong sense of what works well on a registry list,
and what doesn't.
If a couple registers for several expensive items,
for example, the company will often call to discuss the list with
the registrant and suggest changes. For example, if a registrant
has a sofa or Weber barbecue on the list, Pinto-Melikian may recommend
listing $100 contributions toward such gifts rather than the full
price. The goal is "to have the bride receive what she requested,
and the store make the sale."
By offering registries, retailers can target new
shoppers, according to Pinto-Melikian. She emphasized the importance
of showcasing unique products, rather than copying what everyone
else is doing. "You need to stand apart," she said. "Look
around you and do something different with the product." She
added that retailers shouldn't buy merchandise simply to fulfill
the bridal market, but should buy what suits the general clientele.
The staff you have working in your store will help
determine the success of your registry, said Pinto-Melikian. "You
want the most helpful, personable and knowledgeable person talking
to the bride," she said. "They need to start and continue
the conversation with the bride."
If you have talented, affable people working for
you, Pinto-Melikian said, they can help bring in customers and keep
them coming back. "One mistake retailers make is only paying
people minimum wage and just trying to fill the space," she
explained. "If you pay a little more, you can get someone who
knows products, likes to cook and is friendly."
Retailers also need to know the demographics of
their area, she said. For example, they should find out how many
young, unmarried people live in the area, and how many kitchen or
tabletop stores are in the area. This information will help a retailer
decide what to carry in its store, according to Pinto-Melikian.
"If a store sells discounted products down
the street, don't carry those items," she said. "If all
the kitchen stores have KitchenAid products, choose Bosch. Play
sleuth for a day, and see what the competition is doing."
Mailing list sign-up sheets at the point of sale
can help stores target their most loyal customers, Pinto-Melikian
said. She recommended creating an exclusive club with events and
discounts only for members. Cooking classes, demonstrations, guest
speakers talking about relevant topics such as how to set an elegant
table, and field trips to restaurants and cooking schools are all
ways to attract more customers and get people to register.
One benefit of independent retailers is their ability
to give personal attention. Pinto-Melikian said the retailer should
have someone accompany the brides or couples as they register —
but only if the customer wants them to. "Don't insist on it,"
she advised. "If you're nice and not pushy, then they'll like
having you hang around," said Pinto-Melikian. She stressed
the importance of making appointments, so a certain amount of time
is focused on the bride.
When talking to the bride, an employee should find
out what she is interested in, what foods she likes to cook, if
she entertains often, etc. If a customer says she doesn't want a
particular item, Pinto-Melikian tells the staff to ask why. In addition
to understanding the customer's needs, she said asking questions
also gives retailers insight as to what products have a good reputation,
and which ones don't.
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