The Marketplace Boom   //   December 22, 2023

Babylist expands its e-commerce offerings with a new wishlist feature

Babylist is inviting its users to create “Wishlists” for their children’s birthdays and holidays, expanding beyond its roots of baby registries, as it seeks to grow market share and give its users more opportunities to use the service.

Wishlist soft-launched in September, but Babylist plans to roll out more marketing about it in the new year. Like the original registry service, users can add items from across retailers to their Wishlist and send the link to family and friends.

So far, around 60,000 wishlists have been created from users organically finding the feature on the site, with at least 215,000 gifts given. CEO and founder Natalie Gordon told Modern Retail that Babylist started developing the service about a year ago after customer surveys revealed that users were already using the original registry service for child’s birthday.

“The way people solve this without a Wishlist is everyone texts you ‘What does the baby want, what size shoes,'” and you’re kind of coordinating all the gifts,” Gordon said. “This is making it much simpler, and this is making sure you’re going to get what you need.”

For Babylist, Wishlist represents how the platform has grown from a tool used by expectant moms to a post-baby resource. Gordon founded the company in 2011, and it has powered more than 1 million baby registries since. It reported $290 million in revenue in 2022, thanks to new revenue channels such as its own e-commerce marketplace as well as its cross-retailer registry service.

The addition of Wishlist follows previous growth spurts in 2023, like the addition of a Babylist Health service focused on breast pump purchases, and the acquisition of wellness platform Expectful to drive prenatal content. It also opened an 18,000 square foot experiential showroom in Beverly Hills that provides registry opportunities and serves as a content studio.

“The common thread of everything,” Gordon said, “is getting exactly what you need for your new baby.”

The Wishlist feature is the latest iteration of a digital marketing strategy that many other large retailers have installed for years. Sephora, for example, launched its “Loves” feature in 2013, which allows people to save items and send out the link. Amazon’s “My List” feature serves a similar function, while Tiffany & Co. invites users to “drop a hint.” List are also playing a larger role in influencer marketing, with tools like Wishtender and Throne allowing creators to compile a list to share with followers who can gift the items.

Brad Jashinsky, senior director at Gartner, said wishlists are becoming a “top inspiration source” for gifting. This year, about 13% of shoppers planned to use online wishlists in their holiday shopping, according to the Gartner Community Survey.

For retailers, wishlists can provide a double benefit. Not only does it help encourage a sale, but the creator will typically have to create an account or sign-in, which allows the retailer to collect first-party data that can provide valuable insights down the road.

“This data can be used to tailor product recommendations across channels, and determine where inventory constraints or excess might occur at the end of the season,” Jashinsky said.

Babylist’s new feature explicitly provides recommendations based on the child’s age, as well as going off of previously viewed or added items. Gordon said that was a feature that had to be added while Wishlist was beign tested in order to ensure the the products were age-appropriate. There’s also an opportunity for the list-maker to write a note to their loved ones to let them know details about the gifts like their child’s favorite color or items to avoid.

“Right now it’s personalized to the age of your child. And I think there’s obviously much more personalization we can do in the future,” Gordon said.

Taken together, Gordon said that the Wishlist choices can reveal some product trends — educational toys, puzzles and books are popping up more for holiday and birthdays than registries, she said. Subscription boxes are also popular because it’s a recurring gift, and may be more experience-driven.

Overall, Wishlist is a way for Babylist to continue to grow its marketshare in the competitive baby sector that’s often dominated by Target, Walmart and Amazon. While some retail categories, like furniture and housewares, have been hit hard by inflation and rising costs of living, Gordon said spending in the baby sector remains strong.

“People will still spend the money on this category,” she said. “They’ll cut other things, but if you’re having a baby, or your daughter is having a baby, it’s going to be the spending you prioritize.”