New Economic Realities   //   April 28, 2023

Competitors swoop in to win over Bed Bath & Beyond’s former customers

Competitors are rushing to win over former Bed Bath & Beyond customers after the big-box retailer filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this week.

As part of the filing, the company said it will close all 360 Bed Bath & Beyond stores and 120 buybuy Baby locations, and eventually wind down its website. That in turn creates an opportunity for the companies that formerly competed with Bed Bath & Beyond — namely, those in the home and baby goods sector.

While Bed Bath & Beyond had lost its footing in recent years, the company still claimed to have 35 million customers in 2022. That leaves retailers eager to win over even just a slice of those customers, using a variety of overt and more subtle tactics. 

The Container Store was one of the first to throw its hat in the ring, by touting one of the things that Bed Bath & Beyond loyalists loved the most: coupons. Although the company didn’t call out Bed Bath & Beyond by name, it put out a statement on Wednesday saying that it was “offering a 20% discount on any single item through May 31, 2023, for customers who bring a competitor’s blue coupon to any store location.” A Container Store spokesperson confirmed that the retailer is accepting all Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, regardless of the printed expiration date. 

On Thursday morning, furniture retailer Big Lots followed in its footsteps. Anyone can redeem their now-expired Bed Bath & Beyond coupons at Big Lots through May 7. According to the company, shoppers can present coupons to get 20% off their purchase of $50 or more.

The other group of retailers that are most eager to win over former Bed Bath & Beyond customers are those who operate in the registry space, something that was formerly the big-box retailer’s saving grace. Registries were also the lifeline of the company’s buybuy Baby business. According to Bair data, back in 2017 Bed Bath & Beyond had the biggest market share of registries among competitors, with a 44% of listing penetration. But by 2022, that figure dropped to 33% as couples increasingly favored more versatile gift options, such as cash and honeymoon funds.

According to Bed Bath & Beyond, all registry data is still safe and currently being transferred to an unnamed platform. “We are focused on providing updates as quickly as practicable and are working to provide details in the coming days,” the company said in a statement. However, other registry players are already swooping in to help couples and expecting parents move their wish lists over to other platforms.

On the wedding registry front, Zola co-founder and co-CEO Shan-Lyn Ma said her team has been working to help migrate their registry items away from Bed Bath & Beyond since the beginning of this year. “Our team has helped many, many couples migrate their Bed Bath & Beyond registries over to Zola,” and she added that they will continue to do so.

Although Bed Bath & Beyond just filed for bankruptcy this past week, its financial downfall and impending bankruptcy has been well documented for months. In turn, Ma said that Zola’s customer service team has been fielding questions and concerns about Bed Bath & Beyond for months.

Ma said that “the percentage of couples linking registries from Bed Bath & Beyond onto their Zola registry has fallen by half,” when comparing couples with 2022 wedding dates to those with upcoming weddings. And since January, more than 200 couples have emailed the company’s free customer support team for help removing their Bed Bath & Beyond items from their Zola registry. “We presume that countless customers have been able to do so on their own without customer service support,” Ma said, and expects that figure to increase again following this week’s news.

On Sunday, just hours after the bankruptcy news broke, baby registry platform Babylist also quickly announced “simple registry transferring solution” for expectant parents already registered with buybuy Baby. The company is also offering new users $10 Babylist credit for transferring to Babylist between now and May 10. 

Babylist chief growth officer Lee Anne Grant told Modern Retail that the company has been monitoring buybuy Baby’s operations since last summer. Babylist’s registry allows users to add products from around the web, including buybuy Baby as well as Babylist’s own online store. “We saw an influx of users when we started offering the $10 credit,” Grant said. 

Back in January, Babylist began getting user inquiries to remove buybuy Baby product listings from their registries in anticipation of a potential bankruptcy. At that point, Babylist also removed buybuy Baby from its list of retailers supported by the product product matching feature, which shows users the same product available across different sites like Amazon, Target and Etsy. 

Inquiries from registrants related to buybuy Baby have doubled this past week. In light of the closure news, Babylist also set up a dedicated email portal to field buybuy Baby-related customer service inquiries. Overall, Grant said, users are happy to see Babylist help relieve the hassle of moving their data over. With buybuy Baby gone, Grant says “there is a white space” in the baby registry scene for a national player to step in; Babylist is due to open its first physical store this year.

“There is a big opportunity to grow our platform by catering to parents at this stage of life,” Grand said.