How to Boost Sales with Gift Registries

Even small stores can use registries to drive purchases and generate repeat business.
Your small business's gift registry can stand out by offering one-on-one assistance and personalized gift selections. (Photo: Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock)

It may seem like big-box stores, with their flashy marketing, sleek barcode scanners and brand recognition, have the gift registry game locked down. Is it even worth the effort for a local store to offer a gift registry?

“Small and medium stores can definitely compete if they carve out a niche,” said Bruce Sanders, author of “Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers.” “Purchasing from smaller retailers has more personality than buying from a big-box store, and that counts for a lot when it’s a special celebration.”

But setting up an effective registry requires as much consideration for the giver as it does for the receiver, said Sanders. He explained how to tap into customers’ gift-giving mentality to capitalize on the business-boosting opportunities from gift registries.

Create starter lists

Making a list of everything you’d like at a store can be a surprisingly overwhelming task for some registrants. Retailers can simplify things for them by offering starter lists with gift ideas for common celebrations, like baby showers and weddings, said Sanders.

“A shopping list can help registrants start thinking about what they’d like. It can make the process easier,” he said.

You can build trust with the customer by listing generic item types rather than specific brand-name products, said Sanders. This will open the door for you to discuss the options available at your store and help shoppers find the right products.

Related: 6 Retail Store Design Tweaks to Boost Sales

Coach registrants on gifts to include


Different guests will want to purchase different types of gifts for the recipient. While a grandmother may want to gift an heirloom, a boss or coworker may want to give something less personal. (Photo:

People use gift giving as a way to express their special relationship with the recipient. Staff should ask registrants about who will be receiving their registry and encourage them to include items that will be comfortable for parents, close friends, distant relatives and even their boss to purchase.

“Grandma might feel best selecting a wedding gift that can be an heirloom, which verifies her role as the family historian. The fiancée’s older sister might scan the list to find a kitchen appliance in order to subliminally say she’ll always have the younger sister’s back. Aunt Ellen could pick an expensive silver set so she’ll be seen as wealthy,” he said.

Gently remind customers that most effective registries include gifts at a variety of prices, sizes and intimacy levels.

Help shoppers personalize their selections

Selecting gifts from a registry can feel impersonal to a giver who’s especially close to the recipient. One study found that only a third of gifts from close friends came from the registry. Many opted instead to choose a gift that demonstrated their knowledge of the recipient. Sanders said retailers can use this phenomenon to their advantage.

“If a person comes in and says they’d like to buy something that’s not on the list, ask them to tell you about the person. You can help guide them to a gift that fits well with other items on the list but signifies their relationship,” he said. If the registrant listed wine glasses, for example, you can show the giver a few decanters that might match.

“The person who is selecting the gift very much wants it to be their thinking. Make it feel like the customer’s choice,” he said.

Offer gift cards

Shoppers who are short on time or uncomfortable shopping for certain types of items might feel most at ease purchasing a gift card. Don’t let this option be an afterthought at your store, Sanders advised.

“Individualize your gift cards and holders with a selection of themes, such as sports and travel, a range of colors and enough space to write a message to the recipient,” he said.

Take advantage of free advertising

Gift registries can be an effective form of advertising. With their registries, celebrants are effectively telling their friends and family that a particular store is a worthwhile place to shop.


“Gift registries are an excellent word-of-mouth technique to increase purchases by gift givers for themselves as well.” -Bruce Sanders (Photo: Bruce Sanders)

Related: Why Your Business Shouldn’t Skimp on Retail Packaging

“Gift registries are an excellent word-of-mouth technique to increase purchases by gift givers for themselves as well. Your store is receiving a recommendation from a shopper’s friend or family member — highly influential sources for recommendations,” said Sanders.

Take advantage of the opportunity to grow your customer base by giving gift registrants materials, such as postcards and brochures, they can use as conversation starters with family and friends. “Also offer to text or email the registrant the store’s website link to make it easy for them to forward the link to others who prefer to order online,” said Sanders.

Build relationships with new shoppers

With every customer who visits your store to buy a gift for a registrant, there’s an opportunity to generate repeat business from them in the future. Try to gather new customers’ contact information as you track gifts purchased from the registry.

With the customer’s permission, you can add their info to your mailing list and send them a thank you note later on,” said Sanders.

Store owners might also consider giving new shoppers a coupon to use the following month, he added. “That can bring in a lot of business, and it’s a nice way to say thank you.”

Related: 7 Ideas for Growing Your Customer Email List

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