Zola: Vowing to Simplify the Wedding Process
Zola is disrupting the wedding industry with its gift registry business, without taking on the risk of managing the gifts.
Are you getting married soon? Between finding a venue, choosing who (and who not) to invite, and finding the right dress, the wedding process can be overwhelming. While your family politics may never be solved, there is hope that this age-old ritual is on its way to becoming simpler. Zola is the newest player in the wedding registry business, which makes up ~35% of the $55 billion wedding industry in the U.S.
In a Zola-free world, you would have to bear the frustration and time to find all the right items at one or more stores, return duplicate or unwanted gifts, and manage the delivery of dozens of usually large and fragile boxes. In today’s world, you also might find most of the traditional wedding gifts useless. You might ask your partner and roommate of 2 years, “why would we need a new blender when we already bought the one we like?”.
Zola improves the wedding experience for couples in several ways:
- One stop shop: Zola currently aggregates over 50,000 products from a variety brands, saving couples time registering at different stores. It also provides the opportunity to register for experiences or more uncommon gifts like honeymoon airfare, allowing couples to curate their gift list to their specific needs.
- Exchange gifts: Couples can exchange or return items before they’re shipped.
- Shipping preferences: Couples are notified of guest purchases and can hold the shipment on items so that they receive gifts in a steady stream and/or prevent gifts from arriving while they’re traveling.
- Group gifting: Couples can enjoy more expensive gifts by allowing guests to contribute to a group gift.
Zola’s business model leaves it with little risk while capturing significant upside – a 40% commission on products sold directly as well as affiliate revenue from other websites. In fact, the 5-year-old startup has already surpassed $120 million in revenue (2017). The company doesn’t hold inventory, partnering instead with brands and stores to take the responsibility of shipping products directly to consumers. Zola focuses on the experience – taking away all the hassle that comes with creating a registry. In fact, you can even walk into a store and scan the barcode of a product you like to add to your Zola registry.
The company also offers a suite of wedding services for couples that should have theknot.com worried. Couples can create a beautiful wedding website with dozens of templates, easily organize their list of thank-you notes from their registry list, and build a wedding checklist. The best part? All of their tools are seamlessly integrated. The demise of the 25-tab wedding spreadsheet is on the horizon. Similar to Google, Zola provides it’s wedding services for free after users sign-up. The bride and groom can reap time savings as they become incentivized to sign up for gifts through Zola.
Time – that’s exactly what you need to spend with your partner during this tumultuous planning process. Let’s hope Zola can take the pain out of seating your guests soon.
Student comments on Zola: Vowing to Simplify the Wedding Process
As a current Zola user, I resonate a lot with what you said in the post. It’s very interesting to read “a 40% commission on products sold directly as well as affiliate revenue from other websites”. I would be very curious to learn how they were able to negotiate on such favorable terms. As with the price to customers kept the same, how would product suppliers be willing to share such high-profit margin with Zola? (Amazon’s commission rate is 15%.)