We’ve all been there. A friend’s birthday is coming up and you have no idea what to get them. Maybe it’s Christmas and you’re struggling with gift ideas for that distant relative. What are your options?

Ask them – and in doing so admit that you don’t know them well enough to choose yourself – or guess, and hope for the best. Alternatively, you could take a peek at their wishlist and choose a gift you know they’re going to love.

That’s exactly where ecommerce wishlists come in. They’re simply a modern version of a traditional concept. Most of us wrote wishlists each Christmas as a child, or at least made note of our favourite items in the latest catalogue. Ecommerce wishlists allow customers to create a personalised collection of products for their own use or to share with others.

But are they a must-have for your ecommerce business? Or are they just a distraction from actual purchases? Keep reading as we discuss the pros and cons of ecommerce wishlists…

The Benefits of Wishlists

First off, let’s take a look at the advantages of having a wishlist on your ecommerce site.

Increased customer engagement

Even if customers are putting products onto their wishlist rather than purchasing it on the day, having a wishlist creates good customer habits of returning to the site. Only those with the intention of returning to the site will make use of the wishlist, usually converting into regular customers.

Reduced returns

Generally, returns happen because people don’t like gifts they receive, or the item is the wrong size, colour or style. With a wishlist, visitors can help friends and relatives by providing a clear list of gift ideas.

This avoids the disappointment of giving or receiving an unwanted gift. A wishlist also gives people chance to mull over their decision before making a purchase, reducing impulse buys that they may later regret and return.

Improved brand awareness

Most wishlists can be shared publicly, increasing the reach of your brand in an instant. This will attract more customers much like a positive review. People see the shared wishlist as an endorsement from someone they trust.

On top of that, customers could easily see something they want for themselves when they visit the site to buy for their friends and relatives.

Easier product navigation

Just the thought of a long, tedious search through thousands of products can put people off shopping on your site. However, if they’ve already visited your site and highlighted their favourite items, they can easily check back in and purchase the products immediately, without having to search again.

Increased customer loyalty

A wishlist will only be used by visitors who want to return to your site. The ability to store products in a personalised collection makes customers think of your ecommerce site in terms of the future.

A wishlist can also be used for special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays or baby showers. With more visitors viewing your site, looking for gifts for loved ones, chances are your sales are going to increase. As mentioned, these visitors may see something they like for themselves.

Rationalised shopping behaviour

Researching and selecting a product, waiting for a while, then returning and making a purchase gives customers a sense of justification. Their purchase is no longer an impulse or a whim decision. It has been considered and thought out.

Wishlists cater for this, allowing each transaction to be thought through beforehand.

Retained leads

To make use of a wishlist function, customers typically need to sign up to your site. They can then log back into their account on your site and access their wishlist. If these customers opt-in for email notifications, you’ve automatically gained a mailing list.

Every time someone adds a product to their wishlist, you gain a clear insight into their interests, making it easier to target them with personalised emails.

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The downside of wishlists

With all the valuable advantages of offering a wishlist on your ecommerce site, it makes sense to have one, right? Not so fast. Before committing to your decision, there are a few things to bear in mind…

Purchase distraction

Some people argue that wishlists encourage shoppers to save items to the list instead of buying. They offer customers an alternative call-to-action (CTA), distracting them from the ultimate goal of purchasing a product, and allowing them to simply browse without buying. In this time, products can go out of style, or their use may become redundant.

As a seller, it doesn’t matter much to you if customers are purchasing products and later realising they don’t want or need it anymore. However, if they are returning to a wishlist at a later date, before buying anything, you’re more likely to miss out on sales.

Forgotten items

In many cases, items saved to a wishlist are forgotten about shortly after exiting the site. If you opt to include a wishlist on your site, you need to make sure your email marketing is up to scratch. Reminder and post-wishlist email campaigns can work well to generate sales. You are already aware that a shopper has an interest in the product, so the lead is much more valuable.

Wishlist or no wishlist?

More sales, better engagement and high-quality leads – it’s fair to say the pros of ecommerce wishlists outweigh the potential cons. With a user-friendly setup and some effective re-marketing, they can prove invaluable for your business.

That said, a poorly set-up wishlist is worse than no wishlist at all. To encourage return customers, ecommerce companies should make a shopper’s experience as enjoyable and easy as possible. Like everything in ecommerce, your wishlist needs to be done well.

Read More: 14 of the Best Ecommerce Customer Experience Tips

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