Wishlists: The bridge from browsing to buying

The transition from browsing to buying is an important step in the world of online marketplaces. Wishlists are one of the tools used to bridge the gap between casual browsing and a purchase.

What is a wishlist?

A wishlist is a curated list of a users desires. It’s a digital collection of products or services a user has set their sights on, signalling interest but withholding immediate commitment. It mirrors the practice of window shopping; where a shopper’s interest is piqued, but the decision to buy is postponed, often with intentions to return.

Why are online wishlists important?

With a wide range of choices, and distractions like advertisements and promotions, maintaining focus when shopping online is challenging. Here’s where a wishlist emerges as an anchor, steering users back to their initial interests and potentially nudging them closer to a purchase.

Crafting a converting wishlist

While incorporating a wishlist is a start, its efficacy depends heavily on its structure and experience. Here’s a guide on building a wishlist that doesn’t just list, but converts:


Adding items to a wishlist should be seamless. A universally recognised icon, such as a heart or star, ensures immediate user recognition and action.


Periodic reminders about wishlist items, especially if they’re now available at a discount or are back in stock, can be the nudge that leads to purchase.


By allowing wishlists to be shared on social media or via email, users can broadcast their desires, leading to discussions, recommendations, or even gifting opportunities.


A dynamic wishlist that lets users categorise, rank, or even set reminders for specific products can significantly enhance their shopping experience.

The psychology behind wishlists

Beyond its digital presence, a wishlist is a reflection of human desires and goals. By creating a wishlist, a user is expressing a commitment to an item. It might not materialise as an immediate purchase, but it’s a significant milestone.

Drawing from the theory of cognitive dissonance, the unease from the divergence between one’s belief (adding to wishlist) and action (not buying) can eventually push a user towards aligning the two, leading to a purchase.

 Learn about the importance of wishlists in the buyer journey

Strategies to turn wishlists into checkouts

Wishlists are not passive entities. They have the potential to encourage users towards making a purchase. Here are some strategies to facilitate this:

Urgency tactics

Alerts that signal limited stock or that an item on the wishlist is now a hot seller can motivate immediate purchase action.

Personalised incentives

Tailored offers, like discounts or bonuses for items in the wishlist, can add a personal touch that makes users feel valued and understood.

Engaging through social proof

Leveraging reviews, user-generated photos, or testimonials can instil confidence and encourage users to transform their wishlist items into purchases.


The digital wishlist has evolved, from a simple tool of remembrance to a potent mechanism driving conversions. As marketplaces harness the wishlist’s power, understanding and aligning it with consumer behaviour is paramount.

The wishlist is no longer just a feature; it’s an intimate reflection of a user’s buyer journey, right from aspirations to purchase decisions.