Insider tips for building a successful gift registry

Empty Registry Syndrome’ - A Lost Opportunity

Empty Registry Syndrome - A Lost Opportunity

Let’s be honest – a registry is all about the gifts and the gifting it can generate. Making that gifting process easier for everyone involved – from the customers who are registrants, to the gift givers, and even to you – it's a win all the way ‘round.

  • For Registrants: A gift registry makes it easy for all those customers who shop with you because they love your products to shift gears and let others shop for them. With a gift registry, you make it possible for them to share what they’ll love to receive as gifts – literally helping them wear another hat. Rather than self-purchase, a registry turns them into a recipient of favorite products. And, in supporting their gifting activity, chances are you’ll also enhance their brand loyalty – something that further cements more shopping into the future.
  • For Gift Givers: Friends and family can shop with confidence; in no time at all, they can make a purchase that will be happily received. No stress or hassle. That creates a perfect foundation for future shopping with you as well.
  • For You: It’s a valuable customer service and productive growth tool. Literally, a registry becomes a source of ‘new business from the inside out’. Your registry allows you to support customers who currently self-purchase to manage their gifting plans directly with you as well – no need to go elsewhere. That means new revenue streams for you. You can generate incremental sales by leveraging your current product assortments and services with no need to invest time or money, to develop new products, open new stores or set up new sales channels to capture more sales. And, don’t overlook the fact that registry use helps you avoid the expense and hassle of processing returns, exchanges, etc.


Sometimes, the process doesn’t go as planned. A customer sets up a registry account, but then something distracts them, and they never add the gifts they want. There they are in your system as a registrant, but their registry is empty. We call this empty registry syndrome.’ 

An empty registry just doesn’t make any sense. After all, the registrant has already taken the time (admittedly it’s easy and not much time) to set up their registry, but there’s no real fun or satisfaction in doing that. The fun part comes from adding a long list of favorites that the registrant would love to have and be excited to think that family and friends can shop for them.

We think empty registries are a big deal and deserve attention. Our data suggests that sometimes as many as 20% of new registries remain empty. Imagine the additional sales and future customer activity if those lists have added gifts. Those empty lists represent unfinished business with lost opportunity.

  • Your registrants miss out on:
    • The fun of selecting the gifts that could become cherished family items.
    • The ability to make it easy and stress-free for their family and friends to find the perfect gift
    • The opportunity to never have to deal with the hassles of returning an unwanted gift ever again!
  • You miss opportunities to:
    • Cultivate a stronger relationship with the registrant and build more loyalty.
    • Connect to new customers shopping the registry for a perfect gift.
      • Our research shows that as many as 60% of those gift purchasers may be new to your customer base, and now you’ll have a chance to connect with them and encourage them to become your customer over time.
    • Capture sales in the near-terms from the registry itself and over time from the ongoing relationships you could have developed.

avoid empty registry

So, How To Avoid an Empty Registry

Here are some suggestions that can be just the call-to-action your registrant needs. Any or all of them will show customers that you want to help them. 

Make it personal and connect. Contact like this can be very impactful.

If you have the bandwidth, we encourage outreach to your registrants.

  • At Sign Up - A message to all registry users: An immediate recognition and show of appreciation to all registrants while they are still in the ’registry moment’ can be very powerful. Use this initial message as a way to connect with all registrants; all should be encouraged to add gifts while they are still caught up in the initial registry moment.
    • Remember that MyRegistry sends a quick email of welcome to your registrants to acknowledge that they set up their registry with you but it will never be as brand-focused as you would make it.
    • In-store, encourage an associate to engage with a registrant. Based on your service model, you can spend time with the registrant, share any useful tips, etc. you have or just direct them to great gift ideas.
    • Online, that message should focus on a welcome/recognition as a registrant email and reinforce the fun of adding gifts, taking advantage of useful tips, features, etc. you offer.
  • Review and sort recent Sign-Ups for empty registries 7-10 days later: Take advantage of your dashboard reports and review the status of all recent sign-ups.
    • Reach out with a ‘nice nudge’ to any registrant with an empty registry. A friendly message delivered by phone or email. Mention the opportunities they will miss out on (see above for some quick ideas)
    • Remind them that they already did the ‘unfun’ work to create a registry and now should enjoy building their list.
    • Highlight great gifts and remind them of any service and support features you have that make your registry a gift of convenience they give themselves.
    • Be more direct and bluntly remind them that an empty registry has no value and leaves them open to getting gifts that others think they should want.
  • Follow Up Again with Empty Registry Users: Check in again after another week or two. At this point, the initial excitement of registry creation is over, so you want to make a strong case for making a registry work
    • Make your message all about the purpose of the registry and all the hassles that are avoided when a great gift list can guide friends and family.

Leverage all your registry marketing.

Gifting is at the heart of registry use, so it’s natural to constantly talk up the importance of building, and maintaining, a registry list full of desired gifts. Whether you suggest great gifts or suggest new, seasonal products to refresh a gift list, you make the point. Don’t be shy about the need to add gifts either. It’s always worth repeating that registry lists ensure that the recipient will open every gift and smile. Customers are all about ‘I want what I want’ and there’s no better way to ensure that happens than by using a registry that lets gift givers know those ‘wants.’ And, don’t forget that a happy registrant can be your best brand champion.

  • In Store: Use your existing signage program and look for ways to spotlight a great gift with a shout out to add the item to a registry.
  • Online: Use that ‘white space’ below the hero image on your registry page. A reminder that a registry full of gifts that reflect personal favorites and cover a range of price points is actually a gift of convenience the registrant offers their guests.

The bottom line is this–we want to eradicate the Empty Registry Syndrome because we know just how many opportunities you’ll miss out on because of it. An abandoned cart is lost revenue - but an empty registry is that AND more because a registry with gift lists on it is a missed chance for valuable brand visibility and shopping by new customers.

If you have any questions in particular or want to learn more about managing your registry data, we can always be reached at

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