Almost three-quarters of the online buyers in the United States have not viewed, created or purchased from an online gift registry, according to research by Jupiter Media Metrix. Are retailers missing the boat or are consumers just not interested?
Jupiter found that 74 percent of online buyers in the U.S. have not used an online gift registry, and only 8 percent of online buyers have actually made a purchase directly from an online registry. But Jupiter analysts expect consumers to use registries more often as retailers begin to roll out versions that are available both online and in physical stores via kiosks.
“Online buyers have not adopted the use of online registries or wish lists to research or purchase gifts, despite the benefits they bring to ease the gift-purchasing process,” said Rob Leathern, Jupiter analyst. “Multichannel retailers looking to boost online registry usage, especially this holiday season, must give consumers the ability to access registries in a physical location as well as online. Retailers will benefit from higher sales, with little additional customer acquisition efforts.”
Jupiter believes the low rates of consumer usage for online registries and wish lists can be attributed to the lack of perceived value that online registries provide. Whatever the reason, consumers are clearly not using such registries. A Jupiter Consumer Survey found that just 3 percent of online buyers created an online registry or wish list for themselves for a wedding or anniversary. Only 26 percent reported having any interaction with an online registry.
Forty percent of brick-and-mortar retailers offer some kind of online gift registry or wish list at their Web site, Jupiter found. The most common type of registry found online is the general-purpose wish list that typically targets holiday and birthday-gift-buying consumers (75 percent of Web sites that offer gift registries). Bridal and baby registries follow with 45 percent and 10 percent of top retail sites offering the service.
Registry users are valuable prospects for retailers because they offer an opportunity to gain lifetime customers. Within the online buyer population, Jupiter has found that females ages 25 to 34 are the most likely to use an online registry or wish list. This audience matches the demographics of offline wedding registries. By capturing this group of buyers in the early stage of purchasing home products, retailers can cross-sell related products during the initial process of setting up a first home.
“The registry user audience has significant buying power that can’t be ignored. In this business environment, retailers should also be evaluating the multiretailer registry business model as a low-cost entry,” Leathern said.
A study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers in March also examined the features consumers have adopted and ignored on e-commerce sites. Search functions are the most popular online shopping feature, used by 77 percent shoppers. Search functionality and product information are ranked as the most important online shopping features by 43 percent and 40 percent of online shoppers. Product information features include zoom-in images, product reviews and in-stock status.
The PwC study also found that add-ons such as personalization and wish lists are not necessarily used in the way retailers intend them to be used. For example, only 19 percent of online shoppers have ever used wish lists on online shopping sites, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers study. And among the shoppers who have used wish lists, only 13 percent report they have forwarded filled out wish lists to friends and family.
The E-Tailing Group‘s Fourth Quarter 2001 Merchandising Scan, which examined the features of 100 e-commerce sites, found that 47 percent offered wish lists. All told, 92 percent provided some degree of personalization, or a “My Account” feature. Almost half (49 percent) of these sites offered a system for consumer to email referrals to a friend. The most prevalent benefits for consumers using personalization were email or newsletter updates (91 percent); exclusive sales/offers (80 percent); and order history or status (78 percent).