Zyro Evolution to Hostinger Website Builder: More Features and Better Deals. Get yours today .

Zyro encyclopedia

Learn about online business

Zyro Glossary eCommerce


Man Compiling List Paper Writing

What is a wishlist?

A wishlist is a feature on an eCommerce website, which allows shoppers to compile a collection of products they want to buy, but aren’t ready to commit to yet. Shoppers can save a wishlist in their account, so it will be there the next time they log in. 

Differences between a wishlist, favorites, and saving items in a shopping cart

You might find that the term ‘wishlist’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘favorites.’

They both share the same functionality. 

With favorites as well as wishlists, shoppers click an icon next to a product they like, either on a lister page or product page, and it will be saved to a list for review.

It pretty much comes down to which term brands prefer to use. Much like the use of ‘cart,’ ‘bag,’ or ‘basket’ at checkout.

There is, however, a difference between wishlists and saving items in shopping carts.

Add to cart

This feature is used with increased intent to buy, compared to wishlists or favorites.

An ‘add to cart’ button will be bigger and more prominent on product pages. Here’s how it works:

  • The shopper will have to select their desired size, color, or quantity – if applicable – before clicking on ‘add to cart.’
  • By clicking the button, the shopper is effectively reserving the product, just as they would be doing in a physical store.
  • Retailers allow shoppers to hold products in their cart for a certain amount of time before emptying it out, freeing up stock for others to buy.

Cart abandonment is a big issue for retailers. It’s where shoppers fill their baskets but drop out before committing to purchase.

That’s one perk of adding a wishlist feature to your eCommerce store. Shoppers can build a list of items they’re interested in, with no pressure to buy.

Benefits of offering wishlists to your online buyers

Apart from reducing shopping cart abandonment, there’s a whole list of perks to using wishlists. 

Here are some top benefits to using a wishlist.

Customer insights

Having a wishlist enabled on your website can provide useful insights into people’s shopping habits.

Successful eCommerce businesses will already have buyer personas or scenarios for their customers. 

Pulling the data from a wishlist feature can validate or call into question the accuracy of these.

  • You can check for trends. Seeing how shoppers curate their wishlists can show if you have a hot product that people are aware of, but not committing to yet.
  • You can track the success of your marketing communications. Do shoppers transfer products from wishlist to cart after a promo email is sent out? 
  • You can identify your weak products. Find out which items sit on lists the longest, or never make it from wishlist to checkout. 

Retrieving lapsed users

There are some issues that even the most prepared retailers can’t always avoid.

Out of stock products

Selling out of items is definitely something to cheer about, and it’s usually the objective that merchandise planners have when they buy stock.

But what if you still have considerable demand? 

If you have a wishlist feature, you can track which shoppers have saved a sold-out product and – if they have opted in to emails on their user account – contact them when it’s back in stock.

Discount lovers

The art of dangling a discount in front of a lapsed customer is well-known to retailers.

Some shoppers simply won’t commit to a purchase if there’s no discount involved. Others might have filled their wishlist with items, but the total cost is stopping them from buying.

Why not email them a code for a 20% discount? Or you could offer free shipping. Test out what converts shoppers from browsing to buying.

Retaining leads

Wishlists aren’t just great for tracking existing customers.

You can use them to drive new traffic to your website and compel visitors to buy, too. After all, this tool is ideal for the non-committal, and that’s exactly what new users will be.

By asking your shoppers to interact with your wishlist feature in certain ways, it can be relatively straightforward to hold onto those new leads.

You Could:

  • Collect mailing list sign-ups. Although there’s no obligation to buy, shoppers can be asked to provide an email address in order to use the feature.
  • Engage new leads in drip marketing campaigns. Once they’ve opted in to your store’s mailing list, this is a great way to stay fresh in their minds.
  • Offer a first purchase discount. If new leads have filled up a wishlist, use the lapsed customer technique and nudge them towards making a purchase.

Inspiring customers

Remember that wishlists are there to enhance the customer experience, too.

Gifting inspiration

If you make this feature easy for shoppers to share, the wishlist becomes a great source of inspiration for gift ideas.

When it comes to birthdays, baby showers, or the holiday season, wishlists are the perfect way for shoppers to tell their loved ones exactly what they want.

Shareable lists will also drive new traffic to your website, which is another bonus for you.

Personal inspiration

eCommerce sites like Net A Porter have come up with the perfect solution for interested, non-committal customers.

Shoppers are able to categorize the products in their wishlist and create outfits for different occasions. It then becomes a wardrobe planner for vacations, nights out, and work events.

Allowing users to make the wishlist their own is a nice personal touch that can only enhance their shopping experience.

Written by

Author avatar


Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

Launch your online store. It’s quick and easy.

Get started