JC Penney has signed a partnership with wedding-planning site, OurWeddingDay.com. As part of the arrangement, when a bride-to-be registers at JC Penney, she will receive a complimentary membership to OurWeddingDay.com.
Membership offers access to "virtual wedding planner" tools such as "BrideLine," a live consultation via chat; an online task list for organizing wedding plans; an event-management tool; a personalized wedding Web site; financial planning tools, address lists and other organizing tools.
According to a new report from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, online planning sites and communities have gained in use among brides-to-be. The firm's new report finds that in selecting retailers for their registries, brides-to-be are more likely to consider ease of registration, ease of returning/exchanging gifts, and convenience as most important.
In the firm's study, based on a survey fielded to 15,642 18- to-54-year-old women last November (971 of them were brides-to-be or newlyweds), 60% of brides/newlyweds who registered said their in-store experiences played a role in their decision-making about which retailer to use.
In addition, nearly 90% of registrants said they were extremely/very satisfied with their registry experience. Those who registered at mass merchants/discounters or department stores were more satisfied with their registry experience, compared to those who registered at home specialty, national chain, or home improvement retailers.
Also, 59% of registering brides-to-be said they were "greatly influenced" by their fiancés, far less so by family and friends, bridal magazines, or bridal consultants. However, the firm says external sources, including consultants, magazines, televisions and Web sites and online communities, have even less influence on decisions than friends and family.
Three-quarters of registered brides-to-be/newlyweds said they would purchase some remaining items from their registry if left incomplete, spending an average of $459, with notable differences by channel of registration.
A spokesperson says that JC Penney had a similar relationship with TheWeddingChannel.com. She says the new arrangement with OurWeddingDay.com is a three-way deal with David's Bridal -- a brand prominent in JC Penney's wedding portfolio. "David's Bridal partnered with them a year ago. We were blown away by what [the Web site] offered."
She says the wedding registry business is recession proof -- people are going to get married no matter what. "The difference is more people are trying to look at their budgets; we are well-positioned for that because we are a department store -- we have lots of items at affordable prices. We might even get more customers who used to go to specialty stores."
The company wants engaged couples to see the store as a one-stop shop with everything from engagement and wedding rings and gowns to photo studios, and luggage for the honeymoon. "It's a very key business for us in terms of home products, and this is the season -- we are seeing lots of pickup in business."
The company advertises in the wedding vertical and online. She says over 30% of engagements happen over the holidays, and Valentine's Day is second place. The end game for the company is attracting younger customers. "It's about making customers for life."