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South African tech start-up takes the stress out of wedding gifting

Ask your friends about digital disruption and they will trot out a list of ‘tried and tested’ technology brands like Amazon, Apple, Google – and more recently Airbnb and Uber, but their mainstream focus means they are glossing over dozens of innovative start-ups that are revolutionising traditional ways of doings things.

Wrapistry is one such start-up that is leveraging digital technologies to radically improve how wedding guests interact with the bride and groom during the centuries-old custom of marriage. Wrapistry is a family business that bills itself as the ultimate wedding registry. “We decided to reinvent the traditional wedding gifting process to address many of the pain points that couples and their immediate family experience while planning a wedding,” says CEO, Jed Shein. “This is a foundation business that we built, from the ground up, to give customers the interactive experience they desire”. An early lesson for firms entering the digital age is that the so-called millennial generation (and those coming after) place a high value on customer experience. Not only do they want a seamless gifting experience, but they want to give meaningful gifts that resonate with their digital lifestyles.

The desire to help guests choose awesome wedding gifts was one part of the service that Wrapistry co-founders Pat Berman and Linda Shein unveiled at the firm’s establishment in 2015. They accommodated changing consumer demands by creating a ‘one stop shop’ for busy wedding guests which today offers three gifting options. Guests who access the registry can choose from traditional gifts (chosen by the bride and groom), cash donations or contributions towards the couple’s honeymoon or an experience, such as adventure or travel packages. The overriding motivation for the business, however, was to relieve the stress couples face in the run-up to their wedding day by creating a platform to automate the ‘old school’ wedding gift registry process.

How does it work? Each couple creates a personalised wedding registry online and adds an appropriate number of gifts from various price points before sharing a link to the registry with their guests. Guests follow the link to choose their gifts and have an opportunity to write a personal message to the couple before completing an electronic payment. Following the wedding, couples can log into the registry to review a list of all gifts and generate personalised email thank you notes. Other services include a support team to assist guests in choosing the perfect gift; a ‘group gifting’ facility that allows multiple guests to contribute to ‘big ticket’ items; and a free delivery service to a single address.

Wrapistry has gone through the usual swings and roundabouts, but early indications suggest it will be a roaring success. “We assisted with 473 weddings in 2018 and are on track to break the magical 1,000 wedding mark in 2019, based on our operational performance to end-May,” says Shein. He adds that there is huge potential for organic growth with around 150,000 weddings taking place in South Africa each year. But the digital platform also unlocks a variety of wedding-related opportunities such as entering into partnership with brick and mortar retailers to expand the gifting line-up or adding new components of wedding organising to the mix.

It is this potential that caught the eye of tech investor and ex-CEO of Dimension Data, Brett Dawson. Dawson has been making early investments into traditional business that have ‘seen the light’ insofar leveraging digital innovation to become pioneers in the fourth industrial revolution. “Brett invested in our business about 18 months ago and has made valuable contributions, both as a mentor and as someone with extensive knowledge of the world of e-commerce and digital technology,” concludes Shein. “His involvement will ensure that thousands more couples have fun putting their dream gift lists together without giving a second thought to the ‘behind the scenes’ logistics”.

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