WishClick.com Launches Gift Registry Sans Gifts
Gift Registry Sans Gifts

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Online gift registry WishClick.com, Foster City, CA, will debut this fall boasting neither inventory nor sales function.


The start-up is positioned as an all-occasion online registry that allows shoppers to browse and shop for familiar brands and create wish lists as they shop - bucking the current trend by similar registries to double as gift retailers.


"WishClick allows consumers to shop the way they desire," said Carol Carpenter, vice president of marketing at WishClick. "If a consumer wishes to go directly to WishClick and create a wish list with items, that's fine. However, we believe the more natural behavior is for consumers to add items to a WishClick registry while they are browsing their favorite sites."


Leading merchant retailers in categories such as consumer electronics, toys, entertainment, apparel and home are being tapped to ally with WishClick in this new venture that promises to make the gift exchange process simple and fun.


Partners signed to date include the retail Web sites of Powell's Books, Sharper Image, eBags.com, GiftCertificates.com and Pacific Sunwear.


A click on the WishClick icon next to a partner retailer's shopping cart button allows visitors to build a wish list of gifts for occasions such as anniversaries, holidays, housewarmings and birthdays. Consumers clicking on the WishClick icon for the first time are required to enter their name, e-mail and password.


A consumer can spread the word about their wish list by visiting the WishClick site and entering the e-mail addresses of friends or family, who are then sent letters from the registry, which contains a hyperlink to the gift wisher's profile on the WishClick site.


"At no time does WishClick subsume the retailer/consumer relationship," Carpenter said. "WishClick is a service that brings together networks of merchants and networks of consumers in a nonintrusive, relaxed way."


"Sites like WishClick will move [online] registry from the world of brides and bridegrooms to the mass market, making it easier for would-be givers to find the perfect gift with a quick click of the mouse," said Evie Black Dykema, senior analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA.


The service targets busy, convenience-seeking male and female online shoppers between ages 20 and 40, a segment that exchanges anywhere from 12 to 40 gifts annually. This profile is made up of a large chunk of the U.S. online shopping population, which market researcher Jupiter Communications, New York, estimates at 28 million.


"The older the people get, the more they develop familial relationships, and the higher the propensity to create wish lists," Carpenter said.


According to Jupiter, online holiday sales last year were estimated at $3.1 billion. Michael May, digital commerce analyst, said such consumer-generated online sales in the upcoming holiday season are estimated to grow to nearly $5 billion.


"Our main challenge," Carpenter said, "is to stay focused on the all-occasion market and deliver a consistently outstanding experience to our consumers and partners. Short term, WishClick needs to cut through all the clutter and educate the market about all-occasion registries."


An ad campaign next month will run through January. Its light-hearted tone will aim to arouse awareness in consumers about the benefits of using WishClick.


The media plan includes consumer publications such as In Style and Family Circle, billboards, spot radio, direct e-mail marketing, online banners and a "Win Your Wish List" promotion in conjunction with WishClick's charter merchants.


Besides formidable competition from traditional offline gift companies, WishClick will have to battle online with gift destination sites such as 911gifts.com, thegift.com and send.com; category-specific services, including theknot.com and TheWeddingChannel.com; portals such as Yahoo; comparison engines; and merchant aggregators.


In order for WishClick to succeed, it must be as easy for a customer to add something to a wish list as it is to add to a shopping basket, said Jupiter's May.


Carpenter agrees that other sites can add wish lists and have already done so, though she doubts that they adequately satisfy consumer needs. According to Carpenter, many online consumers are averse to registering with different companies and, in many cases, gift buyers are unaware of the gift recipient's registries.


"A networked gift registry will only be successful if it's offered independently from any one retailer," Carpenter said. "WishClick is the Switzerland of gift registries." WishClick gets an undisclosed cut of each sale.
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