Disrupt The Wedding Registry Business - Free Idea

July 23, 2010

strategy

So earlier this week I got to experience wedding registry first hand. It's cool picking stuff out and all but the technology and data silos leave a lot to be desired. This problem is big and needs someone other than a solo entrepreneur to solve it. It's been the top idea in my mind for a week now.

[ Preface ]

According to The Knot's 2009 Wedding Registry Study the wedding registry market is a $12billion a year industry. Year after year couples are increasingly turning to the web to manage this process (33% in 2009 from 29% in 2008). 

[ Problems ]

1. Hardware Fails

We registered at two places so far (Target and Younkers) and both scanners failed on multiple occasions. At Target it seemed every other item "could not be found" and in some cases was mis-marked. If you look at our registry - no we don't want "baby socks". 

The Younkers hardware seemed to be running in a browser on Windows CE that was horribly kludgy and buggy. It had 99 buttons that we "weren't supposed to touch or we'd have to start over". It was a pain to increment the number of items (yes, we want 2 pillows). And forget it if you accidentally scan something you don't want (or was mis-marked) - because you can't delete items (easily).

In the end both hardware devices provided horrible user experiences. They crashed, errored, and in general behaved badly.

Mc9000

2. Data Silos

After registering for dozens of items at one store - try remembering if you registered for that wooden spoon or not when you get to the next store. One big problem with the wedding registry business is that each retailer has their own data silo. Target does not know what you registered for at Younkers and vice versa.

If I were to attack this problem I would centralize the data first (see #2 below). This is by far the biggest pain point for the consumer.  That is if the scanner works long enough to actually record (correctly) the data in the first place.

3. Gifts should not be retailer specific

Just because I want a meat slicer doesn't mean it has to come from Younkers. With a centralized database of wishlists the application can seek out the best prices from a number of retailers.

[ Solutions ]

1. There SHOULD be an app for that

And there is. MyRegistry.com (see below for competition) offers up an iPhone app for their service that lets you take pictures of products to add to their registry. That is awesome... One could also use technology like Pongr is using where you'd simply email pictures of the items you want added to the registry.

2. Centralize data

Registry data needs to live in a centralized location accessible from anywhere. It also needs a 2 way sync if possible... So if I register for something at Target using the app it will actually add that to the Target registry system - and vice versa. You will want the same syncing on purchases as well... So if someone buys me a meat slicer at Target it updates the system and pushes that update to other registries where I may have added a meat slicer.

3. Price check across retailers

This one is simple... If I register for a wok it should price check across the database of retailers for the best price.

4. Backwards Compatibility

Gift buyers shouldn't need to go to this website to buy the stuff - hence the need for the 2 way sync. Your grandma should still be able to go to Target and pull down your registry the same way she did for your sister 5 years ago.

5. Add A Social Layer

Integrate with Facebook and other networks to allow people to purchase from inside the network. Push notifications out to networks when people register for items so potential guests can buy instantly. Integrate with FourSquare so couples can check in at a place they are registering and by doing so they get some kind of discount (or a free coffee as they walk around your store). Integrate with Meetup and/or Evite to embed the registry on wedding shower invitations.

[ Revenue ]

1. Affiliate Cash

If someone buys the product through the website (which will help find the best price) the service gets a cut through affiliate commission.

2. Premium App

Sell the app for a few bucks.

3. Freemium

You can do a ton of freemium price versioning. Limit features, retailers, etc in the free version.

4. Ads

Provide contextually relevant advertising alongside a free version of the app.. The users are engaged to be married - that's a huge niche market you can advertise to directly.

5. Data

With the amount of killer data at your hands you become a trendspotter... What are couples going to register for in 2011 based on this year's data? I bet Target would be interested to know about that.

6. White Label

Sell some of the technology to specific retailers... While data silos would still exist it would create a better user experience.

[ Competition ]

1. Amazon.com

You can register on Amazon.com (aka the largest store in the world) right now. It's very easy for both the giftee and the gifter.

2. MyRegistry.com

Has a big jump on this market, however isn't focused on the wedding registry business solely. 

3. Retailers

They don't want a federated registry market - they want you to come to their store.

[ Conclusion ]

Thoughts? Ideas? Is somebody already doing this that I just haven't found? Let me know in the comments!

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