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Wedding registry ecommerce startup Zola offers couples more choice and more personalization

Every now and then, the sea­soned ecom­merce man­ag­er comes across a start­up idea that makes them say, “I wish I’d thought of that.” And Zola, the new e‑commerce wed­ding reg­istry based in New York and launched this month, is an idea that falls into just that cat­e­go­ry.

Found­ed joint­ly by vet­er­an entre­pre­neur Kevin Ryan (who also co-found­ed Busi­nessIn­sid­er, 10gen and Gilt Groupe), Nobu Nak­aguchi and Shan-Lyn Ma, Zola offers cou­ples who are engaged to be mar­ried a broad range of items from dif­fer­ent retail­ers and brands. If you’re an ecom­merce man­ag­er and you’re think­ing, “So, what?”, think on: most cou­ples want­i­ng to build a wed­ding reg­istry use a sin­gle retailer’s web­site, which means they’re lim­it­ed to the items sold by that retail­er.

Mul­ti­ple options, sin­gle check­out 

Instead, Zola has built direct rela­tion­ships with a raft of oth­er brands and retail­ers to mul­ti­ply the choic­es avail­able. And it also lets cou­ples reg­is­ter for non-tra­di­tion­al gifts, like expe­ri­ences (e.g., farmer’s mar­ket deliv­ery ser­vices or pri­vate chef din­ners) and for cash funds – all via one online check­out. Shan-Lyn Ma, now Zola’s CEO, said:

“We built this with today’s cou­ples in mind. There are a lot of offline behav­iors that aren’t being solved online. With our expe­ri­ence in e‑commerce, design and tech­nol­o­gy we were able to bring a lot of fea­tures online.”

Zola lets cou­ples orga­nize group gifts – high­ly desir­able when big tick­et items are iden­ti­fied – and allows them to decide when they want their gifts deliv­ered. That’s a neat fea­ture for cou­ples who are plan­ning a move or who want to open their gifts after they’re mar­ried.

The per­son­al­ized reg­istry

Although oth­er firms like WeddingRegistry360 and Reg­istryLove allow access to a range of retail­ers, Zola goes fur­ther. It lets cou­ples cus­tomize a URL, which they can use to include sto­ries and pho­tos to add more per­son­al­ized con­tent to the online expe­ri­ence, almost becom­ing a per­son­al wed­ding site. And that’s in the pipeline. Ma says Zola will be pro­vid­ing tools to let cou­ples do just that soon.

At present, the “expe­ri­ences” option men­tioned ear­li­er is only avail­able in New York City, but plans are afoot to expand to Chica­go, Los Ange­les and San Fran­cis­co, too.

So, e‑commerce man­agers, are you still think­ing “So what” or have you shift­ed to “Wish I’d thought of that”?

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