April 22, 2004, 12:00 AM

Multi-channel gift registries can give a boost to loyalty

Multi-channel gift registries are emerging as strong tools for building long-term customer loyalty, retail consultant Neil Stern says. “This is a challenge to retailers, but it brings great customer loyalty benefits,” he says.

Multi-channel gift registries are emerging as strong tools for building long-term customer loyalty, says Neil Stern, senior partner with Chicago-based retail consultants McMillan/Doolittle. “This is a challenge to retailers, but it brings great customer loyalty benefits,” he tells InternetRetailer.com.

Stern notes that more retailers are looking at gift registries as a way to attract customers at an early age--whether they’re a young couple who has registered for wedding gifts or young friends or relatives who purchase through a registry--then continue to build relationships with them through continued e-mail contact and special offers. “It’s a great way to build loyalty over the long term,” he says.

Among retailers moving aggressively into using gift registries as part of loyalty strategies, he adds, are Macy’s and France-based department store chain Galeries Lafayette. "It provides us with an opportunity to establish lifelong relationships with young, new couples, as well as deepen our relationships with their extended friends and families,” says Eric Renard, CIO of Galeries Lafayette, which expects to launch a multi-channel gift registry later this year.

Stern adds that plans for a national multi-channel gift registry coincide with Federated Department Stores Inc.’s effort to build a consistent national presence. “It’s a big motivator behind Federated’s move to create Macy’s as a national brand,” he says.

Gift registries used as part of a customer loyalty strategy work best in a multi-channel environment spread across a nationwide market, so merchants can take advantage of dispersed networks of gift-buying friends and relatives and the increasing desire of consumers to shop through multiple channels, Stern says. “If a gift registry is not integrated across channels, the retailer can start to lose consumers as gift registry customers,” he says. “Customers are shopping across all channels, so retailers need to meet their customers wherever they want to experience the brand.”

A major challenge in launching a multi-channel gift registry, he adds, is deploying a system to support it across multiple channels. “Retailers are hunting for ones that work, whether they’re from outside providers or built in-house,” he says.

 

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