While major retailers like Macy's, Babies 'R Us and Bed, Bath & Beyond have held a monopoly on the gift registry industry, Web-based gift registries are giving small businesses a chance to compete with the giants.
Online personal registry services like MyRegistry.com and MyGiftList.com give consumers the opportunity to register for gifts from any store, regardless of size, in advance of a special event, while simultaneously creating a new revenue stream for small businesses.
"It really levels the playing field for small-business owners to get on gift registries where their products can be seen alongside the big guys," Nancy Lee, president of MyRegistry, told BusinessNewsDaily. "They get just as much of an opportunity (to land on a registry)."
Launched in 2005, MyRegistry lets its users create one centralized registry for any gift-giving occasion, including weddings, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, housewarmings and holidays.
Users can choose gifts from any online store and add them to the single registry; through a mobile application, the site also offers options of adding gifts from stores that don’t sell online.
"There is really no limit," Lee said.
In the end, the service can prove a boon to small businesses, whose products land in front of a whole new audience when family and friends browse the diverse registries created by the site’s users.
"They definitely benefit, because their store name can be introduced to 200 or 250 people (on each registry) who have never heard of their business before," Lee said.
Nicole Chiala, co-founder and CEO of the socially responsible home textile company Amenity Inc., said her company has had a number of its products make their way onto personal registries, thanks to the registry sites.
"It gets you in front of all new people," Chiala said.
Businesses previously had to spend significant amounts of money and time developing their own online registries if they wanted to make their way into that market. Adding the MyRegistry interface to an existing website offers a simple shortcut, allowing fans of a business to register for products directly from that business’ site.
Amenity is one of many small businesses that have partnered with MyRegistry to install the registry program on its website.
"It allows us to have that bigger company feel," Chiala said.
As the founder of Under the Nile, which produces organic cotton apparel, toys and accessories for infants and children, Janice Masoud said being able to display her products alongside some of the major retailers offers a notable business advantage.
"The larger retailers do have a good selection of products — but of one quality standard," Masoud said. "I think consumers would like to choose the best of the best, and this is a great way to showcase our products and give the consumer a better choice and higher-end product selection."
Masoud also uses the MyRegistry technology on Under the Nile’s website to let customers create their own registry straight from their store.
"We are able to put our brand in front of consumers who don’t know about us," Masoud said.
On the consumer side, Lee said personal registry sites remove all limits on what a bride, groom, expectant mother or even birthday boy can ask for.
"We are very groom-friendly, because they don't have to only add pots and pans," Lee said. "People can add from any place in the world."
Another MyRegistry feature is dedicated to entrepreneurs setting up a business. Lee said new business owners can create a registry that will help them get rolling.
"Maybe (family and friends) would be happy to pay for some office furniture or a copy machine," Lee said.