February 16, 2010, 12:00 AM

Self-service gift registries may hurt branding efforts

Many retailers are emphasizing self-service online gift registries to cut costs, but at the same time are missing out on opportunities to connect shoppers with their brand through personalized customer service, new research finds.

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Many retailers are emphasizing self-service online gift registries to cut costs, but at the same time are missing out on opportunities to connect shoppers with their brand through personalized customer service, The E-tailing Group Inc. says in a new study, “Cross-Channel Gift Registries Move Toward Self-Service Model.”

"Merchants must weigh these options to determine the right mix of technology, resources, branding, and service to ensure that they present their brand in its best light to garner the greatest short-term dollars yet still make a lasting impact on each shopper," says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group.

The study is based on a fourth-quarter 2009 survey of 26 gift registries-including that of Amazon.com Inc. and 25 offered by retail chains.

The best online registry and related shopping experiences, it says, involve compelling online merchandise, helpful online guides and checklists, and branding messages that explain registry features and benefits. It cited Amazon.com, Babies ‘R Us, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Giggle and J.C. Penney as the top online gift registries.

The study notes that the characteristics of a top in-store gift registry experience include merchant efforts to personalize the process with registry specialists available to assist customers. It cited Bed Bath & Beyond, Bloomingdale’s, Buy Buy Baby, Giggle and J.C. Penney as the top in-store gift registries.

The study also found the following:

     

  • 79% of stores offer informational kiosks to support registries, and all of these registries were set up to allow shoppers to access and print out gift registries.
  • 60% of stores allow consumers to set up and revise registries on in-store kiosks.
  • 47% of stores enable the gift registrant to enter her initial registry information on kiosks, and 47% let shoppers use the kiosks to place web orders for registered gifts.
  • 42% of stores provide a dedicated, marked area for gift registries, and 58% handle registry matters at a generic point of sale register.
  • 33% of stores offer dedicated registry specialists to assist customers, while the rest rely on general cashiers to provide registry assistance.
  • 63% of in-store registry associates are available to help customers enter their initial registry information; 79% assist customers with their self-service registration.

     

 

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