The best part about getting married is the free stuff. I mean, there’s the whole marrying the love of your life thing, but materially speaking the relief of getting a lot of your household items from friends and family is a major boon to a couple about to venture out on their own.
Over the last few years, the department store registry has become far more accessible through a number of digital incarnations. One of those, Jifiti, is raking in big funding rounds to keep its expansion going.
Jifiti announced a new $3.3 million Series A infusion on Wednesday, bringing its total investment to date to $7.1 million, according to a press release. The round was led by new rich kid on the block Liberty Israel Venture Fund. It also brought back a lot of the original investors like the Schottenstein Store Corporation, Jesselson Investments, the Simon Property Group and founder of the Burlington Coat Factory Stephen Milstein.
Liberty Israel is one of the venture arms of the Liberty Media Corporation, this one focusing on Israeli startups. Liberty’s subsidiary Evite has a working strategic relationship with Jifiti that integrates the latter’s registry platforms with the former’s event invitations. So if couples were worried about losing out on those checks that come back in the little envelopes from the classic paper invites, this collaboration brings the “I’m sorry I’m not coming” check back en vogue.
According to Jifiti CMO Shaul Weisband, the reason his company is earning those investments is because they’ve recognized online checkouts are too focused on the person making the purchase and not a gift’s final receiver.
“That lead us to realize that gifting and shopping are two very different experiences and that retailer’s user experiences are very much optimized and designed for shopping for one’s self, and not gifting for someone else,” he tells Geektime.
Jifiti originally focused on a hyperlocal model in Boston before its seed funding two years ago let it branch out. The company offers packaged gift registries and includes things that really should be basic at this point: mobile optimization on the tech side and trading one item for another of equal value on the gift side. They also emphasize their software is automatic and needs no integration with a client’s website.
It certainly has a sleek layout and lets couples peruse the physical store and scan bar codes straight to their wishlists when they see something they want. “Gifters” can also choose to chip in to get specific, more expensive items.
The company offers two agreement models for clients: by monthly licensing or giving Jifiti a commission for every item gifted. Weisband expresses confidence in the company’s revenue stream, though he isn’t willing to share those numbers publicly. He also downplays the idea that gift registries only have a significant market in the United States where they became popular with major department stores decades ago.
“We certainly have a market beyond America for all our solutions, and our partnership with MasterCard allows us to do that very easily. There are quite a few partnerships in the pipeline that are not based in the U.S. We have retailers and sites from all over the world reaching out to us,” he explains.
B2B vs B2C: business with brands vs. business with couples
Besides Evite, the company has also reached deals with Sears for its e-commerce checkout and home furnishing titan IKEA to use its gift registry. The company’s main competitors are probably Loop Commerce (which has raised $30 million in venture capital according to its site) and eGifter, with the former presenting itself as a master of data science and agent of stylish brands at the same time. The latter allows for Bitcoin purchases and also markets its seamless integration process with clients’ websites. The three brands mainly focus on corporate clients, not individualized gift registries that might incorporate products from multiple retailers.
Perhaps that is the biggest drawback that Jifiti has. It has not designed itself for personalized registries for couples. Those registries would let couples be eclectic with what they want, selecting items from different stores.
“There are existing online ‘universal’ registries that allow users to add links to different retailers, but it’s a very poor user experience and those types of registries really haven’t taken off,” Weisband claims, though he says Jifiti has not forgotten to address demand for these registries in the future.
“Splitting between registries and our other solutions,” is the industry’s greatest challenge according to Weisband. “The registry market is an educated market — 88% of couples register before their wedding.” Personal customers (rather than corporate) know exactly what they want and have not gotten it yet. Still, he promises his company is trying to reach a solution via agreements with various retailers.
“A co-branded registry in cooperation with the actual retailers is in the works here by us.”
The biggest lure for retailers to sign on is likely the decimation of the “gift returns industry,” which represents a mindboggling $43 billion during the holiday season alone, according to Weisband.
“All our gifting solutions eliminate gift returns simply because when a gift is purchased via the Jifiti system, it is shipped only once the recipient puts in their own shipping address and product details. So they confirm that it’s something they want or need, and if they want, select something else.”
“While we eliminate gift returns, we also offer an entire layer of data that never existed for retailers: what items are being sent as gifts, price points, the nature of the gift, the info of the sender/recipient. This is all valuable data that didn’t exist before.”
Jifiti was founded in 2011 by CEO Yaacov Martin, CMO Shaul Weisband, and CTO Meir Dudai. The company maintains offices in Columbus, Ohio and Tel Aviv, Israel.