How Does an Amazon Wishlist Work and How Can You Utilize This as a Seller?


The Amazon Wishlist was born of an idea hatched in October of 1999, where users could create a list of items they wanted as well as share that list with others. This would eliminate the tedious back-and-forth of “what do you want?” for things like a birthday, anniversary or Christmas. 


Originally intended for parents and grandparents to be able to share items that their child might like (when they were inevitably asked by other relatives). From that time, new updates have been made to this feature, so if you’re wondering how does Amazon wish list work, and how you can leverage it to sell more items on Amazon, keep reading for all the details.


Amazon logo


Going Beyond a Simple Wishlist

The wishlist on Amazon was originally fairly simple and straightforward. You could be on a product page and optionally choose to either add the product to your cart or add it to your wishlist. If an item was purchased from your Amazon wishlist, it would be removed, to prevent duplicate purchases. 


But concerns about privacy and security as well as the long-standing wish for things like collaborative lists meant that Amazon had to take another look at this common feature and figure out how to take it to the next level. Until last year, the wish list could only be shared and viewed by recipients, but it could not be added to or edited. Only Amazon’s wedding registry had this feature, but the company has rolled out editable wishlists for all. 


Invited users can then edit the list as if it were their own: adding, deleting, changing  quantities and so on. As the creator of the wishlist, you can control who can access it. 


How Does an Amazon Wishlist Work for Sellers?


Amazon shopping cart visualization


As an e-commerce seller, you may be wondering how to best leverage the Amazon wishlist feature to help encourage customers to purchase your item now rather than later. But first, it pays to think about why a user might decide to save the product to a wishlist to begin with:


  • They’re still in the initial stages of researching the product. They don’t want to lose the item (and even items in the cart may expire after a time), so putting it in the wishlist ensures that they can go back and look it over later.

  • They want to see if the price will drop. If an item is added to the Amazon wishlist or to the cart, Amazon will let the customer know if the price has gone up or down since the time they added it, and by how much. A customer may be deciding to wait until the price is lower before they hit that checkout button.

  • They want to see if the product will be available in their preferred color/style or other option. Many users add the default to a wishlist so that they can check back after some time to see if new colors or styles are back in stock.

  • They want to compare prices with similar products or see reviews of similar products all in one place

  • They want to be able to share the item or the list with friends or family (its original intended use, although very few people actually use it that way!) 


An Often-Forgotten Feature

The issue with many sellers is that they put an inordinate amount of concentration into understanding a user’s browsing history, the customer journey, buyer behavior, recommendations, upsells, remarketing and much more.


"As an e-commerce seller, you may be wondering how to best leverage the Amazon  wishlist feature to help encourage customers to purchase your item now rather  than later."  -Click to Tweet-


But none of these are centered on the customer’s actual intent to buy the way that the wishlist is. It could be because the wishlist is viewed as more or less, a kind of “shopping cart”, and why bother trying to get a user to convert who clearly isn’t going to buy at this moment? 


Instead of looking at wishlist users in this way, it’s better to look at them more as if they have added the item to their cart but abandoned it. We don’t hesitate to reach out to those users, but forget all about people using the wishlist. 


What Can Sellers Do to Leverage Wishlists Effectively?

Much of what is possible with wishlists right now is tied to the whims of Amazon, and considering it has taken this long to get collaborative wishlists going, it’s fair to say that Amazon doesn’t really think of wishlists as much of a selling tool. However, even though Amazon wishlists themselves are fairly limited, there are still some things that you can do to engage these users with your own marketing.


Amazon wishlist


Encourage Users on Social Media to Share Their Product Wishlists

You may not be able to see when someone has added an item of yours to their wishlist, but you can still market effectively offsite by incorporating the wishlist as part of a campaign. For example, you could host a contest where users who share their wishlists have an item of yours purchased from it at random, or you could encourage users to  build a “dream wishlist” of your products that they’d love to own. This way, you can see what products they may purchase together or may be interested in, and it may very well spur other marketing campaign ideas


Follow Up with Announcements via Email

Although it wasn’t normally intended as a way to understand how does an Amazon wishlist work, people often use wishlists to see when prices on items go down. Why not leverage this capability yourself and let them know via email? Many companies encourage browsers to become subscribers by notifying them if the price of an item goes down, or if certain colors or other options are back in stock. 


Keep Users Informed with Great Gift Ideas and Suggestions

Finally, you can use the wishlist the way it was originally intended, and keep users in the loop with great gift ideas and suggestions. No matter what your market is, when it comes to holidays or special events, people often have a lot of folks to shop for and not a lot of time. You can take advantage of this by bundling products or building a gift idea list to inspire them. 


The bottom line is that you can use Amazon wishlists effectively through a few roundabout marketing maneuvers. Amazon itself is slowly starting to pay attention to how people really use wishlists outside of their ordinary use, and it may not be too long in the distant future that we can expect to see new ways to further integrate wishlists with actual shopping habits. amazon listing optimization ebook



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