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Should You Implement A Wishlist On Your eCommerce Website?

The eCommerce industry has seen enormous growth over the last few years and with it, so have the features available on websites. Wishlists are among one of these new features, although this somewhat useful feature is still not utilised by many eCommerce website owners. So we investigate, is it vital that every eCommerce store offers a wishlist feature?

Firstly, What Is A Wishlist?

The wishlist feature on a website allows a user to mark items they are interested in and revisit these items at a later date. Often these are marked with a heart or star button on each product (as seen in the snapshot below).

Commonly, users will receive follow up emails after adding items to a wishlist to help encourage sales.

How Do Visitors Use A Wishlist?

There are a number of ways a wishlist can be used. Most commonly, they are used as a middle ground between purchasing and forgetting items: often, shoppers aren’t ready to order but want to remember the items and/or store for future reference. Others tend to use wishlists to mark items as they browse and re-evaluate these items before deciding to purchase, or mark items they wish to buy at a later date but at a cheaper price. For example, if the item is not needed urgently, the user can save the desired item in their wishlist and wait for the price to drop before purchasing.

However, wishlists aren’t always treated as a list of items to buy, but rather as inspirational mood boards or gift lists. A wishlist can be shared and made public so others can see what items that person would like. This shareability factor makes them extremely useful especially when it comes to gift giving. For example, in the event of a wedding or baby shower when lots of people will be buying gifts, a wishlist can be used to avoid present duplication or to simply remove the risk of buying an unwanted present.

Now we have clarified what a wishlist is and how it is used on a website, it’s time to explore the pros and cons of implementing a wishlist on your store in order to understand if this feature is right for you. Firstly, the pros…

Wishlists make users come back to the store and encourages users to think about the company in terms of the future: “I’ll buy it later”, “I’ll go back and look for it next month”.

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Pros Of Wishlists:

  1. Easier Product Navigation

Browsing endless products to find the perfect item can be a tedious and arduous job. It is the idea of a lengthy search time that often discourages many people from shopping online. Being able to mark preferred items reduces this timely process and the next time they visit the site, they can immediately buy without the need to sift through products again.

  1. Increases Engagement

Wishlists work well at increasing engagement on the site, even if the user decides not to purchase an item on that visit. The habit of users visiting the site and actively viewing and marking products in a wishlist is golden data in itself. This online window shopping style can be turned into future purchase via follow up emails.

  1. Builds Loyalty

Wishlists make users come back to the store and encourage users to think about the company in terms of the future: “I’ll buy it later”, “I’ll go back and look for it next month”.

  1. Rationalises Shopping Behaviour

Wishlists give customers the impression that their shopping is well planned and rational. For example, by adding a product to a wishlist and after two months the product is still desired, then buying it feels justified. It is no longer an impulse buy or a purchase made on a whim, but rather a well considered and thought out purchase. It also meets the needs of slow buyers: customers who show different buying temperament and prefer to give each transaction a good, hard think.

  1. Brand Awareness

The ability to share wishlists publically increases the reach of the brand, gaining free brand awareness. Being shared by someone you value also works as an online approval of the product/brand.

Now for the cons…

Cons Of Wishlists:

  1. Distraction from Buying

It is often argued that wishlists can encourage users to save items to the list instead of buying, that they distract from the checkout and provide multiple calls-to-action as opposed to one. As mentioned, if a user can add new products to the list, they might wait for the item to get cheaper or to be sure about the purchase. Ultimately, a marketers job is to drive sales, not wishes. Wishes won’t pay the bills!

  1. Forgotten Items

Often users will forget about items they have added to their wishlist. So if you have a wishlist installed on your site, dynamic email marketing is vital. This means more labour, setup and expenditure initially. However, there are plenty of email marketing tools which will automate this process with very little time management needed. Post-wishlist email campaigns also offer an additional touch point with the user and another opportunity to encourage sales. Since these users have shown an interest in these items, so much so they wanted to save them for later, these users are far more valuable than those that visit the site and leave without any interaction.

Wishlist And Marketing Automation

For wishlists to deliver results rather than lower sales, they must be combined with marketing actions such as:

  • Email Marketing: post-wishlist emails are vital to remind users they have outstanding items in their wishlist, about discounts on any items in the list as well as informing them that the list can be shared with family and friends.
  • Personalisation: gathering more information on customer preferences can help to tailor offers more precisely.
  • Rewards: add reward points for adding items to the wishlist.
  • eCommerce Optimisation: discovering which products are frequently added to a users wishlist can allow you to understand which products are popular and promote these on the site.


Overall, wishlists are a great tool for gathering data and provide an additional touch point for users to help encourage sales. We recommend you consider implementing a wishlist on your eCommerce store if any of the following statements apply to you:

  1. You have a broad range of products.
  2. Your products can be given as gifts.
  3. You have the resources/software to draw data from wishlists and use for marketing communications with individual customers (e.g. to deepen insight into their preferences) and for general knowledge (react when a product is often added to a wishlist).