We get asked about wish lists a LOT, especially as we head into Christmas – do they really do anything to increase sales; won’t it just lengthen the process between browse to purchase; wouldn’t it make sense to eliminate the option to stop customers getting sidetracked from buying?

They’re fair concerns, so to provide a credible and broad answer, I dug up a segment from Ian McAllister, General Manager of AmazonSmiles, who was the developer of the hugely successful wish list feature on Amazon.com.

McAllister puts forth a few main ‘use cases’ for wish lists:

  • Customers who use it in one single session;
  • Customers who save their wish list to come back to on the website several times later;
  • Customers who share wish lists with friends in the hope of gifts (wedding gift registries, birthday wish lists etc.)

Looking at single-session wish lists, these are the least likely to improve immediate sales – McAllister confirms that once you add a wish list to a site, you will see a decrease in cart adds.  For businesses engaged in single-sale customers, be sure to test and measure appropriately!

Products and businesses whose customers use wish lists across multiple sessions experience more benefits to adding a wish list – like a bookmark, it saves customers the hassle of having to track down their product from scratch, increasing the likelihood that they’ll return to buy from you.  McAllister notes that even if the customer returned for a reason other than the wish list, purchase rates for wish list items still showed a positive increase.

Far and away the most effective use of wish lists is achieved by adding a social element to the feature – by being able to share their lists, customers are able to engage friends to help make purchases, and subsequently introduce new people to your website.  This gives your website and products far more exposure than a standalone shopping cart would, a fantastic trade-off for the shift between wish list adds and cart adds.  Over time, your customers’ friends will become your new customers in their own right, resulting in a snowball effect.

This holiday season, why not trial a wish list feature on your e-commerce website?  If you’re looking for fresh ideas to get more out of your website, this could be the magic bullet that sends your sales skyrocketing!

Web Ignite’s Web Commerce website packages come with fully-featured wish lists – for more information, call or e-mail our friendly team!