In part two of this series on wedding registries, Deloitte Digital’s Stephanie Tice gives retailers some tips on how to address couples' registry needs and expectations in the digital age.

In the blog post, “Part 1: 7 Trends from Social Research,” we uncovered perceptions around wedding registries and how consumers are changing the registry landscape. The rise of alternative registries and the convenience of registering online has developed consumers’ expectations of a registry experience that is highly customizable and reflective of a couple’s unique need. In this new age, retailers and brands need to be equipped to provide couples with personalized experiences, as well as advice and etiquette tips.

Here is some guidance for retailers on creating wedding registry experiences.

1. Provide consumers a smooth digital experience.

Today’s couples are busier than ever, so your online registry option should be uncomplicated, easy to locate, log into, and use. Customers want to be able to find an item quickly on a website or via mobile and know the site is going to be available when they need it. When a planned outage or maintenance is going to occur, let registry customers know as far ahead of time as possible so they aren’t surprised.

2. Have social media teams at-the-ready.

Providing a pain-free experience shopping a registry is imperative, as a good or bad encounter will spread, especially on social media where an irate bride/groom/guest can easily call attention to their frustration with a few keystrokes. Have an alert social media response team in place that can quickly address complaints directly to the consumer, take the issue offline, or resolve with a customer care team via live chat, phone, or email. Savvy retailers can show appreciation to those sharing positive experiences on social by replying with a “thank you” or “best wishes.” This kind of acknowledgement can deepen the upbeat feeling a consumer has about your brand.

3. Offer hand-picked or tailored items for couples.

Retailers can take the guesswork out of choosing items by providing lists for different life-stages (i.e. “our first place,” “we have the basics, but need style,” or “upgrading”) and could start couples off on a positive note by giving them direction and ideas. Integrating social media, such as Instagram and Pinterest for home “must haves” or “look books” of different styles, created with products from specific brands or retailers, can also help couples with visuals of what they can register for.

4. Make registering more “man-friendly.”

Retailers and brands gain more exposure when men are involved in the registry process, as men are a captive audience that stores can either bore or delight. Provide suggestions for products that appeal to interests and hobbies (Is he a coffee aficionado? Does he like building things?), or items couples might not readily think of as wedding-registry worthy, like blue-tooth speakers or a streaming player. Incentivize men to promote their registry link in their friend networks with contests for prizes that appeal to their interests and/or are experiential – not just products they registered for.

5. Partner with experiential gift vendors

To capture market share of couples that are looking for experiences rather than “things,” partner with cruise lines or resorts to help the couple “earn” perks they might otherwise have used an alternative registry for. For consumers apt to open a monetary-driven registry for things like home repairs or larger home purchases, non-traditional players such as home improvement stores or furniture galleries can offer their registries online and in-person. These partnerships of traditional and non-traditional wedding registry retailers can also help satisfy the dilemmas of modern couples with “old-fashioned” family members.

6. Mind the etiquette gap.

Though etiquette around wedding registries and gift giving is changing, it’s important for retailers and brands to know the couple’s lifestyle and preferences. This allows sales associates and online guidance like checklists to address conservative or modern views. Knowing the different audiences and where they congregate online also allows retailers to target specific messaging for couples entering the registry process. Retailers can make a quick online game or quiz to help the couple determine the right course of action, such as whether to spread the registry information via word-of-mouth (conservative) or put registry cards in shower invitations or a link to the online registry on the couples’ wedding website (modern).

7. Create positive experiences.

Customer service, ease of use, and prompt attention to and reconciliation of complaints is really important for engaged couples dealing with the stress of planning a wedding. Helpful sales associates, easy-to-use online registry options, and pre-made lists alleviate some of the pain points involved in registering. Private bridal “sip and scan” events can relieve the anxiety for some couples by providing a dedicated sales associate to assist them, without large shopping crowds. Providing personalized service, knowledgeable staff, and fun events can fuel the registry excitement for couples and get them more engaged with your brand.

Whether conventional or modern, couples approach wedding registry as a fun opportunity to choose gifts they actually want (or need). Although expectations are high, creating a positive experience will likely endear your brand to stressed-out couples, who appreciate thoughtful details.

Footnote: A sample of 116,006 posts from October 2013 to October 2014 pulled from Radian6 was used for this analysis. Typical of social media conversations across industries, nearly 90 percent of all online registry posts happened on Facebook and Twitter.

Stephanie Tice is a senior research analyst on Deloitte Digital’s social intelligence team, providing clients with qualitative insights that address needs and give context to brand themes and perceptions on social.