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Wish Lists… Why Your E-commerce Store Needs One and How to Improve It

by Justin Palmer - September 26th, 2007

When I hear the term wish list, I immediately see a mental picture of an eager child sitting on Santa’s lap holding a lengthy list of their much desired toys. There seems to be a trend, however, to move away from the narrow term “Wish list”, which are usually employed by a younger audience. Recently, Target took an interesting step in giving their wish list a broader appeal. They now call it simply Target Lists, and they allow people to create lists with themes in mind such as birthdays, Christmas, Housewarmings, shopping lists, etc. Does every e-commerce site need a wish list feature? While not every business it suited to the concept, I think the answer in most cases is yes. In my experience, I’ve seen wish list help in the following areas:

  1. Reducing Shopping Cart Abandonment (people use the wish list to store items instead of the cart)
  2. Site Stickiness (people come back frequently to edit or view their list)
  3. Viral Marketing (people tend to share their lists with others, which provide word of mouth advertising)

Does your site already have a wish list? Below I’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive list of great upgrade features I’ve either used or seen used on other sites.

  1. Email Your List Feature: An “email your list” feature is a perfect way to empower your customers with the ability to share their lists with family and friends. For an example of this and many other of the features below, checkout C28′s wishlist.
  2. Comments Field for Each Product: Allowing users to add comments to each item on their list will help them remember specific product details, or help them share relevant information to other looking at the list.
  3. Email Me When It’s Re-stocked: In many cases, items remain in wish lists for long periods of time, sometimes allowing the items to go out of stock. If this happens, allow user to request to be notified when list items are re-stocked.
  4. Email Me Before It Sells Out: Better yet, prevent the situation above by automatically emailing list users when an item is almost sold out. Customer will greatly appreciate it, and you will drive sales creating a sense of urgency.
  5. Show Shipping Info: When friends and family are buying an item out of the wish list of someone, they might not know where to have it shipped to. When someone buys a wish list item, allow them to see the shipping address of the list user.
  6. Make It Linkable: Make it easy for users to share their lists with other by giving them a unique and easy to remember url to access the wishlist. For example, Some sites hide the wish list behind a form post url or something that requires login. Avoid this.
  7. Wish List Banner Ads: Even better, provide your wish list users with a copy and paste banner that they can post on their myspace, blog, or even email signature. This can provide great brand exposure, as well as drive traffic.
  8. Remove Purchased Items: When someone makes a purchase from someone’s list, be sure to flag that item and purchased. Otherwise, multiple people may buy one item as a gift. This happened to me with a client one time during the busy Christmas season. (not fun!)
  9. Multiple Search Options: For those looking up another person’s list, make sure you allow them to search by more than just an email address. Searching by first and last name or even address would be helpful.
  10. Reward / Affiliate System: Reward your list users by giving them an incentive to share their lists with others. What can be better than emailing your wish list to friends and earning 10% if they buy something for you?
  11. Diversify Your Wish Lists: As a mentioned above, Target diversified their lists by letting users choose a theme such as birthday lists, Christmas lists, shopping lists, etc. You will find that each list type caters to a different type of customer.

I hope some of the ideas above gave you something to think about. Be sure to leave a comment letting me know what your experience is in this area. 

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One Response to “Wish Lists… Why Your E-commerce Store Needs One and How to Improve It” by Justin Palmer

  1. The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success Says:

    [...] your Wish List Feature: Start promoting your wish list feature, encouraging customers to share these wish list’s with family and [...]

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