Crate & Barrel Teams Up With Zola, Hoping to Win Over Millennial Couples

There's a lot of pressure to have it all in the Instagram era

Crate & Barrel is adapting to changing consumer habits. Facebook: Crate & Barrel
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Rival wedding registries have called a truce in their battle for millennials: Home décor retailer Crate & Barrel and wedding company Zola announced a partnership in which Zola users will be able to register for more than 3,500 Crate & Barrel products starting Oct. 1.

Zola offers what it calls “an all-in-one registry for the modern couple.” That means instead of a traditional department store registry in which brides- and grooms-to-be are limited to whatever the retailer carries, couples who use Zola can register from an “endless collection of gifts, experiences and funds.”

That includes 60,000 additional items, but users can also add gifts from other stores if what they want isn’t there. And, until now, a press release said Crate & Barrel has been the No. 1 externally added brand to Zola registries, which prompted the partnership.

“We started Zola with the mission of letting users register and plan weddings however they want, but we saw through a feature that lets them add anything from anywhere else, Crate & Barrel was the No. 1 thing people were adding,” said Shan-Lyn Ma, CEO of Zola, at Recode’s Code Commerce event. “Our users are telling us something—we should add Crate & Barrel to let them have the true experience they want.”

Zola also came armed with data.

“We could see that couples had registered for millions of dollars of Crate & Barrel products every year, so we were able to go to [Crate & Barrel CEO Neela Montgomery] and her team and say, ‘This is a reason to work together.”

In turn, Crate  & Barrel extends its digital reach to more potential customers.

“Whilst we have a 40-plus year tradition in gift registries, we recognize our customers want to shop where they want to shop,” Montgomery said at Code Commerce. “This is a way to partner with an innovative digital company and also to access customers in a different way.”

Crate & Barrel will continue to offer its own registry, as well as events where customers can meet wedding vendors like florists and pastry chefs, but it hopes the Zola partnership will enhance discovery and turn additional couples into “lifelong brand loyalists.”

“We felt confident in a company like Zola—it has shared values and a shared approach to customer service, which made it a good fit,” Montgomery said.

According to Ma, millennial couples use apps to get cabs, hotel rooms and dinner reservations in seconds and expect every aspect of their lives to be similarly easy. That’s in part why Zola added a feature called Blender, which Ma described as “like Tinder for home products.”

“Many people browse in front of the TV at night,” she said. “It’s one of the most popular things we see used. They’re adding products they’re interested in … it’s an easier way, a more convenient way to think about what they want.”

Millennials are also waiting until they are older to get married—which means they have more income. And social media is playing a starring role, which increases pressure.

“In the Instagram era, wedding planning of how it will look becomes even more important,” Ma said. “A generation ago, the only way you saw photos were [if you went over for] dinner. Now you see photos of a wedding as it is happening. Every detail becomes more important. Couples care deeply and are willing to spend more.”

And while Zola has started to move beyond registries and into tangential services like invitations, Ma said Zola will remain focused on the $300-billion global wedding industry. The U.S. accounts for about one-third of that total and Ma said Zola has about 10 percent of the market, or more than 100,000 registries a year.

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@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.