Retailers have teased and rolled out online deals for days, even weeks, but the real Black Friday is here.
Online gift registries continue to pay dividends as customer loyalty and customer acquisition tools—particularly for multi-channel retailers with a national presence.
Gift registries continue to pay dividends as customer loyalty and customer acquisition tools-particularly for multi-channel retailers with a national presence.
REI Inc. for example, garnered 6,000 gift lists and thousands more new customers related to those lists in just the first eight weeks of offering a multi-channel gift registry, says Joan Broughton, vice president of multi-channel programs. “The response to our integrated gift registry has exceeded every projection,” she says.
Neil Stern, senior partner with retail consultants McMillan/Doolittle, says that more retailers are looking at gift registries as a way to attract customers, 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.
The REI gift registry, which can be accessed through REI.com and REIOutlet.com, by telephone and through in-store web-based kiosks, was launched without an extensive marketing campaign, Broughton says. REI limited its promotional efforts for the registry to home-page links, in-store signage and communications between in-store shoppers and store employees.
Customers can set up registries by calling a customer service agent, building a registry online or using a hand-held device to scan selected items in a store. Purchases, whether online, by phone or in stores, result in automatic updates of the registries so customers who create a registry can see online which items have yet to be purchased. REI will also make suggestions online for additional products.
REI took about a year and a half to prepare for the gift registry’s launch, Broughton says. To test how well its products would support gift registries, for example, it commissioned a national telephone survey of 800 consumers who had been known to participate in outdoor recreational activities. It found that 77% of women and 73% of men said they enjoyed socializing with friends when engaging in recreational activities outdoors.
REI also modified its fulfillment operation to support the multi-channel registry, Broughton says. To accommodate online ordering of gift-wrapped boxes, for example, it needed to extend its pick-and-pack conveyor belt and train additional workers in the art of gift-wrapping, she adds.