August 2, 2001, 12:00 AM

Ex-Boo.com exec makes a transition from dot-com funeral to virtual wedding

Now with Federated Direct, ex-Boo.com chief Jay Herratti, senior vice president, extolls the virtues of department stores’ online bridal registries.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

“Exactly 12 months ago, I was scheduled to appear at this conference to talk on behalf of my struggling dot-com,” Jay Herratti, the former president of Boo.com, told attendees at this week’s eTail 2001 Conference in New York. “But the company went out of business in May, and I spent the summer instead looking for a job.”

Like many dot-com executives, Herratti landed a job in the web operation of a major retail chain, and this summer Herratti was speaking before the eTail 2001 conference as senior vice president of Macy’s/Federated Direct. His main topic: how the web can greatly enhance a department store’s bridal registry business. As Herratti tells it, a good web site can improve virtually every aspect of this lucrative business, even though the store remains the primary base for bridal registry sales and service. His list of web enhancements to the business include:
--Marketing: Through a partnership with WeddingChannel.com, Herratti explained, “we now can reach and register the bride as soon as she gets the ring.”
--Research: Using its web site and its partnership with WeddingChannel.com, Federated provides its registered brides information on everything from bridesmaid dresses, to reception halls and bands, to honeymoon vacation packages and mortgage financing. “Web content really works for us here,” noted Herratti. “Brides are very hungry for information at this point in their lives.”
--Gift Selection: The bride can use optical scanners at the stores to record gifts she wishes to register for, and that digital selection can be easily posted on the web.
--Monitoring and Modifying: While the store conducts the initial registration, the web site is used by brides two to three times a week to check on the gifts purchased and to change the gift selection as needed.
--Guest Purchases: “The web is a wonderful value-added service here, because the guest can check the registry and buy the gift online,” remarked Herratti. “They don’t have to come into the store to see the gift, because they know the bride wants it. And there is a major convenience with on-line purchasing for the guest who doesn’t live near a Federated store where the bride is registered. ” Federated has extended this advantage by creating its Gift Registry Alliance, which links all of its different department store chains into a single web-based registry. “The bride may have registered at Bon Marche in Seattle,” said Herratti, “but the grandmother in Florida can by the gift on-line at Burdines.”

To capitalize on this synergy between the stores and the web for bridal registry, Federated had to link its stores and web sites into the same data systems. “It has been a huge challenge for us,” conceded Herratti. “But we did it.”

 

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