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Bed Bath and Beyond marries wedding registry with augmented reality

Bed Bath and Beyond is taking its wedding registry to the next level via a new print-to-digital tool that easily adds an item from a catalog by holding a smartphone over the page and tapping a hot spot.

As a leader in wedding registries, the new augmented reality offering reflects how Bed Bath and Beyond is betting on mobile technology to enhance the experience. Mobile continues to grow for the retailer, which recently reported that it saw nearly double the number of digital orders placed via mobile in 2014 as well as significant growth in transactions where shoppers reserved an item online and picked it up in-store.

“As the leader in wedding registry, we are always looking for new ways to assist our customers during this very important life stage,” said Steven Temares, CEO of Bed Bath and Beyond, in a conference call with analysts last week to discuss the company’s fourth quarter financial results.

“We believe that while we are never satisfied, we have created the best registry experience available today by leveraging our in store expertise along with meaningful technology to drive a relevant experience,” he said.

Wedding hot spots
Bed Bath and Beyond’s mobile application enables those who have created a wedding registry to manage it anytime and anywhere.

A recent update to the app added new features, such as the ability to add any item in the retailer’s wedding registry catalog to a shopper’s own registry by holding a phone over the page and tapping the hot spot that appears over each item.

Using augmented reality technology, shoppers are able to see enhanced 360-degree images and browse additional styles or colors not shown in the catalog.

The retailer also enhanced the image viewing features on its mobile app, enabling users to pinch and zoom on a product detail page and access alternate images for a product.

Omnichannel experiences
Like many bricks-and-mortar retailers, Bed Bath and Beyond is focused on driving mobile online sales as well as leveraging mobile to influence in-store sales as these are among the fastest growing areas of their businesses.

Bed Bath and Beyond reported last week that, during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014, comparable sales through its Web sites and mobile applications grew more than 40 percent while same-store sales increased more than 1 percent.

The new Bed Bath and Beyond capabilities are the latest example of how retailers are boosting the wedding registry experience through mobile.

In February, consumer electronics retailer Best Buy entered the wedding registry space with a new mobile-enabled service, hoping to position itself as one of the three retailers a typical couple registers with (see story).

Last year, online wedding registry Zola took advantage of the release of iOS 8 by integrating gift tracking and Web capabilities to its mobile application (see story).

“As we all know, advancements in information technology are rapidly changing the retail landscape by connecting all of the traditional retail sales channels to a vast and growing number of digitally empowered shoppers,” Mr. Temares told analysts last week.

“We know that many of our customers start their shopping experience with us online or through a mobile device to research an item, read customer reviews, or compare pricing,” he said. “The experience does not stop there, as many of these customers visit our stores and interact with one or more of our 60,000 associates to find what they need or to ask questions.

“The same customer can then choose to purchase the item in store or execute the sale via their mobile device and in most cases, choose either in store pickup or home delivery.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York