The $600M Business Modernizing Wedding Registries

Read time: 5 minutes

Good morning! It's Friday, February 23rd. Today, we’re covering Zola, an online wedding planning and gift registry platform that generates over $120M in annual revenue!


The $600M Business Modernizing Wedding Registries

Everyone loves a good wedding, but they always come with logistical headaches for the bride, groom, and guests. 

Zola, a company generating over $120M in annual revenue, is on a mission to eliminate some of those headaches and shake up the wedding industry— let's dive in!

The Founding Story

In 2013, Zola founder Shan-Lyn Ma felt like all her friends decided to get married in the same year. While it was great to attend so many weddings, it also entailed the stress of juggling various wedding gift registries. 

With a background in building e-commerce sites and e-commerce products, Ma was stunned at how bad the user interface was on wedding registry websites, describing it as "some of the worst shopping experiences I have ever seen online."

Seeing an opportunity in the market, Ma founded the online wedding registry and planner Zola in 2013 to bring wedding planning into the modern era. 

Zola by the Numbers

By 2014, Zola had $8M in gross sales. A year later, Zola's revenue jumped up to $40M, with 8,000 products available on its online registry. 

Zola hasn't released more recent revenue figures, but it was estimated to generate $120M in annual revenue in 2020 across its 100K+ wedding gift products. The company has raised $141M in total funding and was most recently valued at $600M

The Business

Zola's primary innovation in the wedding market is its online gift registry, which, ironically, operates like Tinder. Through the Zola app, couples can swipe right to add items to the registry or swipe left to discard. 

With its 100K+ items, Zola's product catalog is comparable to Target and Walmart's wedding registry selections. However, Zola differentiates itself from the competing retail giants through trendy gift options like meal kit subscriptions or bike tours in France's wine country. 

Another advantage Zola has over retail giants is its limited overhead costs. The vast majority of items Zola sells are shipped directly from the manufacturer. As a result, Zola holds practically no inventory, freeing them from the massive costs associated with running a warehouse distribution network.  

Zola generates revenue from its gift registry by taking a cut of all purchases. When a wedding guest purchases an experience, such as a guided tour, Zola keeps 20% of the sale. For product purchases, Zola takes up to 40%. Considering that the average retail markup is 50%, Zola's take rate is actually reasonable. 

How They Win: Free Service Funnel

Zola began as just a gift registry site, but in 2017, the company launched a suite of wedding planning services for creating wedding websites, guest lists, RSVP tracking, and customizable wedding lists. 

By creating a one-stop shop wedding platform, Zola has increased the number of couples using its platform from 500k in 2019 to $2M in 2023. 

One of the primary drivers of that new growth is that Zola's wedding planning services are entirely free. Zola uses its free planning services to funnel customers toward its revenue-making sector: its gift registry. 

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