Wishlist — An Underutilized Customer Engagement Tool

Image for post
Image for post

After concentrating efforts on building the foundations of business, companies in the online space are now finally moving towards providing true value to the customer. To differentiate themselves from other businesses, we are seeing organizations trying to deploy new technologies and innovate through new features. While this seems intuitive and the right thing to do, I feel many existing features are not being utilized to their full potential. The Save for later/Wishlist feature is one of them.

Wishlist/ Save for later icon is usually displayed on product lists, product pages, cart and in account details to help browsers save products for buying later. A customer usually saves a product to the wishlist because:

a. S/he is still considering buying the product — using the functionality as a sleep-over-it mechanism. Wishlisting the product will help the customer find this product at a click of a button later

b. Browsers use this feature for comparing all items s/he wishes to buy

c. Customers add products to wishlist in order to track price changes. They wait until the price drop is satisfactory before the purchase decision is made

d. Unavailability of sizes/ color in products prompts the user to keep it aside to check later on. This is similar to a customer checking with an offline store later whether his/her size is now available

e. Sharing lists with family and friends for special occasions like birthdays and festivals. Although this feature isn’t being used by the masses yet

During this entire study I could not find any two portals following the same implementation of this feature. Have compiled a brief comparison table on which pages the wishlist is displayed.

Image for post
Image for post

The deal is that every organization is innovating to provide customers suggestions basis the browsing behavior, purchase history and affinity analysis. We are all aware of the recommendation systems used by the likes of Amazon, Netflix & Spotify to name a few. While these are indicative of customer taste but not necessarily the best indicator of the customer’s intent to buy. Products in a wishlist differ from browsed items in that they are part of the consideration set. The customer has narrowed his/her search to these select items. Products in wishlist can be treated as an abandoned cart and used for recommendations. So why has this feature not been utilized by companies to reach better conversions?

Many businesses perceive wishlist users as window shoppers, not leading to higher conversion rates. Why make a person add a product to Wishlist when the shopper can add a product to cart? I think this thought is incorrect given the improper and inefficient implementation of this feature. Here are few areas in which if implementations are carried out can help in boosting sales from this feature:

a. Visibility and Access

b. Navigation within Wishlists

c. Extra Features

d. Notifications

Visibility & Access:

The feature should always remain a click away for the customer no matter which page s/he is on the site. Portals have managed to do that successfully. The issue is that this feature remains passive. Browsers are neither educated about the benefits of this feature nor prompted to use it. This step is important as it would improve adoption. Few scenarios where a customer can be prompted are:

i. Color/ Size is out of stock

ii. In case a customer has spent sufficient time on a product but not added a product to cart, s/he can be prompted to add the product to Wishlist

iii. In case, no offers are running on a product being viewed, a prompt can be sent to customer to add a product to Wishlist to be notified of a price drop later

Navigation within Wishlists:

Improving navigation within the Wishlist can certainly have advantages. Try these out:

i. Category wise listing of products — Show customers products automatically under category lists. If a browser saved a shoe, s/he could find that product under the Fashion tab. Similarly, if s/he saved a pair of headsets, then the electronics category tab under the wishlist would display the same. Finding products would be easier through this sorting mechanism. This can be enhanced by UI changes as electronics & fashion pages can have different layouts. This can surely lead to better engagement.

Here is an example from Asos web where products saved can be viewed under category tabs.

ii. Sorting of items in Wishlist — You can see Amazon which helps the customer sort products according to price & priority, however many other options that can be provided to a customer like Asos does — recently added, deal expires soonest, alphabetical, % discount, inventory.

Image for post
Image for post

iii. Creating Wishlists — This option helps the customer to segregate products according to their needs. The second objective that this enhancement achieves is the sharing of wishlist with others. Not only does this help with repeat traffic but also in directing more traffic to the website. One should be able to share lists on social media, email, whatsapp etc. Not many Indian apps provide this feature. Amazon is not Indian ;)

iv. Ease of Buying — Make it easy for the customer to move items to cart. Ability to choose a product size/ color on the wishlist, for instance can save the customer clicks. Ability to remove/add multiple from the Wishlist to cart can make the flow more efficient. Helping customers compare items in the Cart and wishlist can help the customer save money. Small adjustments can lead to customer delight

In the example given below from Asos, product can be added from the wishlist directly to the cart. Color, size, information on size is all provided within the same window.

Image for post
Image for post

Extra Features:

As mentioned earlier, recommendations are usually based on customer browsing history. However, browsing does not indicate an intent to buy. Wishlisting products however does. We can try the following:

a. Recommendations based on the type of product added to wishlist - These can be provided on the Wishlist page or homepage. An extension of this can be showing customers, what other users are wishlisting for the festival, holiday season etc. This is well implemented by Ali Express. Another good example to follow is Lazada. For customers who have not yet added products to the Wishlist, it provides a list of recommended products

Image for post
Image for post

b. Ability to upload an image of a product desired by the customer — Recommendations should be based off this image. There exist many 3rd party service providers which one can integrate with to provide this service to the customers. This can be an tool for engaging the customer

c. More Information to the customer by ways of different prices offered by sellers, available credits, money in wallet can aid in quicker decision making. This example by Amazon helps the customer with information with all the relevant information right from price drop to different selling prices

Image for post
Image for post

d. Ability to form bundles of products which are bought together. This can be most useful for household/daily use products which are purchased once every month. This can help the company in extending better basket discounts


There has been little work that has been done on this front. Seldom will you receive a notification informing you about a drop in price of an item in your wishlist. Below is a brief list of how we can utilize information in the wishlist for achieving better conversions:

i. Communicate to customers drop in price of a product

ii. Low inventory warnings & replenishment of stock can be relevant info

iii. Notifications on products similar to products in wishlist can be used to lure buyers

iv. If a product in a wishlist is deemed as Hot Selling, let the customer know

v. In case the same product is in multiple wishlists, create an urgency to buy scenario for buyer

vi. If any brand in a wishlist is on sale, a notification must inform the user

vii. Reminders can be set on products added to wishlist

viii. Wishlist specific promos could be designed to improve conversion

Here is a brief comparison on which portals have implemented these functionalities:

Image for post
Image for post

In principle, Wishlist mimics an offline shopping assistant. It helps in understanding your preferences, making recommendations basis them and letting you know when a sale starts and when your size will be back in stock. In short, it helps in building a relationship with the customer. For this reason, I feel that this feature is underutilized and a holistic approach towards its implementation can reap exponential benefits.

Passionate about E-commerce

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store