Retailers of all sizes are making final preparations for a holiday shopping season that is expected to see consumers use various tools at their disposal including online shopping and curbside pickup.
One tool that continues to gain in popularity, but is not highly publicized, is gift registry. Once the domain of weddings and baby, registry in recent years has expanded to include a variety of milestone events such as birthdays, graduation, anniversaries and holidays.
Recently, Kitchenware Today spoke with Susan Miller, senior vice president of Partner Relationships with MyRegistry.com, about the growth registry programs have seen during 2020. This is the latest installment in a series of stories about the expansion of registry programs. Previously, Kitchenware Today has spoken with independent retailers Nicole-Rhea and Blue Rose Pottery about the impact gift registry has had on each retailer.
KITCHENWARE TODAY: Compared to 2019, how much growth has MyRegistry.com seen in registry usage?
SUSAN MILLER: Registry started very strong in early 2020. New registry sign-ups were up double digits and gift activity was very strong. As the pandemic hit and shut down the economy, wedding sign-ups slowed but baby and wish lists — those created for a variety of other occasions — continued to increase, growing as much as 50% and more. As the economy has reopened, wedding activity has steadily picked up while the other event types continued to show strength.
KWT: Was there a point during 2020 when the number of registries began to show significant growth?
SM: It was actually during the challenging second quarter that saw the biggest gains in wish lists. This coincided with the timing for graduation and housewarming popularity. Those trends for wish lists have continued. We believe that grads were being feted even more this year as that important milestone was noteworthy even if many were not able to experience all the traditional ‘events’ and actually moving off to college this year.
KWT: Are more retailers tapping into registries and/or are they more aggressively promoting their registry services?
SM: We are seeing more interest in putting a registry/wish lists to work and here are many reasons why that can be such a productive effort:
- Every business is trying to find ways to protect sales and maintain customer loyalty. Promotionality can’t save the day forever, so they need to offer services, features and conveniences that customers appreciate and see as value-added.
- A registry/wish list is a way to drive new business from the inside out. It’s about creating more reasons to shop for what the retailer already offers without the need to add new product lines or open new doors and marketplaces. Registries can make it cost effective at a time when many businesses are so challenged.
- Registries are also a way to relieve stress for customers and make it easy to share and shop for what’s truly desired. This avoids any clutter of unwanted gifts and the risk of spending money on something that is not really appreciated. Retailers see fewer returns of registry/wish list purchases, so everyone wins. These features are even more valued by customers and businesses alike in today’s tough environment.
KWT: With the increase in registry usage, are consumers doing this on their own, or were there marketing efforts to highlight the benefit of developing registries to consumers?
SM: I think it goes both ways. Customers are looking for ways to make their lives easier, whether it’s in how they shop, what they buy and how they keep life organized. More aware than ever before of what they most want and need these days, they want to focus and not accumulate stuff. We also see more of our partners increasing the mentions and focus on gifting and registry/wish list as well. It’s a way to show they want to simplify gifting for customers to help reduce stress in this part of their lives.
KWT: Given the limitations on weddings because of the pandemic, what type of registry activity is there within the wedding segment.
SM: We are seeing wedding activity pick up again as people are rescheduling and/or planning events into 2021. Even if the party is smaller, the celebration is still a big deal and many will want to mark such a big occasion with a gift. In fact, gifting activity has been very strong, even picking up as the year has gone on. We believe that many see a gift exchange as a way to (re)connect with friends and loved ones – all the more important when physical gatherings are limited.
KWT: Within the kitchenware/housewares segment, what are some of the most popular products appearing on registries?
SM: With more people at home more that has led to more food consumption and even casual (outdoor) socializing. These factors have definitely increased interest in products that help make it easy to prepare so many more meals. Whether it’s the pathetic cook like me who appreciates devices that mitigate my poor skills and then helps me keep it all organized or the better chef now wanting to replace or refresh bakeware, cookware and kitchen tools we see lots of opportunity. Casual barware and serveware that comfortably goes outdoors is also valued. Grilling and barbecuing are easy and convenient and also popular. Among the top sellers have been various brands of multi-cookers, slow cookers, air fryers, blenders, mixers and bakeware. We’re also seeing strength in casual dinnerware, barware and serveware pieces and more open stock than traditional place settings.
KWT: Given the growth of registries this year, do you feel there will be continued growth heading into 2021?
SM: Yes. We are optimistic that consumers will recognize the use of a shareable/shoppable list is useful, convenient and practical for any gifting occasion. Once used, they will see it is something to do again as it makes the process so easy. And, while the industry has been dominated by weddings that also get a lot of gifts, the growth potential from wish list use is huge. Everyone can participate in at least one gifting exchange every year for a birthday, anniversary and of course the end-of-year holiday season. Even if these wish list occasions have smaller guest lists, the sheer volume of users can mean big business, and business that makes everyone happy. The registrant gets what they want, the gift purchaser knows the money is well spent and the retailer sees fewer returns, happier customers and the prospect to gain new customers who were the gift purchasers.