The role of marketplace wishlists: From window shopping to checkout

The transition from browsing to buying is a complex process in online shopping. ‘Wishlists’ play a pivotal role in this journey, acting as a bridge between interest and purchase.

So, why are wishlists so crucial in marketplaces? How do they transform casual browsers into committed buyers? Let’s delve deeper into the importance of wishlists and how they guide users from mere interest to making a purchase.

What is a wishlist?

A wishlist serves as a personal collection or registry of items that users aspire to purchase in the future. It’s like a digital memo or a bookmark that signifies interest without an immediate commitment to buy.

Having the ability to create a wishlist offers shoppers the luxury of shortlisting products they like, thereby creating a space for later consideration. This act resembles window shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, where one might spot something of interest but decide to mull over the potential purchase, often intending to come back later.

Why are online wishlists important?

With the vast array of choices and distractions in online shopping, including advertisements and deals, shoppers can easily lose focus. An online wishlist serves as a helpful anchor, reminding users of products and services they found interesting. It works as a digital reminder, prompting users to re-evaluate items and potentially make a purchase.

How to create a wishlist that converts

Any marketplace platform can make a wishlist feature, but its effectiveness in driving conversions hinges on its design, utility, and user experience. Here are some ways to ensure that your wishlist serves its purpose effectively:


The process to add items to the wishlist should be straightforward. A simple heart or star icon can make it intuitive.


Regular notifications about items on the wishlist, especially if they’re running low in stock or on sale, can spur users to action.


Allowing users to share their wishlists can turn them into potential brand advocates. Their friends and family get a direct peek into the products they fancy, often leading to gifting or group purchases.


The ability to categorise or prioritise items within the wishlist can make the experience more user-friendly and personalised.

The psychological behind wishlists

A wishlist is more than just a digital tool, it’s a manifestation of desires, aspirations, and future plans. When a user decides to make a wishlist, they’re mentally investing in a product or experience. This investment might not translate to an immediate purchase, but it’s a significant step in the buyer’s journey.

To illustrate, let’s look at the theory of cognitive dissonance. When there’s a discrepancy between beliefs and actions, humans tend to feel discomfort. If someone adds an item to their wishlist but doesn’t purchase it, over time, this discrepancy might spur them towards making that purchase – aligning their actions with their expressed interest.

Driving checkouts through wishlists

One of the primary goals of a wishlist is not just to allow users to save items for later but to gently nudge them towards finalising that purchase. But what strategies can be employed to encourage this transition from wishlist contemplation to actual checkout?


Not only should users be informed when stock levels are dwindling for items on their wishlist, but they could also be notified of when an item is back in stock or if it’s in high demand. Such alerts play on the fear of missing out and can prompt immediate action.


Apart from offering limited-time discounts or bundle deals for items on the wishlist, consider introducing loyalty points or rewards for purchasing wishlist items. Alternatively, provide exclusive access to new arrivals or a sneak peek at upcoming sales, making them feel valued and increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

Social proof

Showcasing reviews or ratings is essential, but you can also highlight how many times an item from the wishlist has been purchased recently. Testimonials, especially those with photos or stories from real users, can resonate more and instil trust.


Marketplace wishlists have transformed the way consumers engage with online marketplace platforms. From merely serving as a digital note of products of interest, they’ve evolved into strategic tools that businesses can leverage to boost conversion rates.

By understanding wishlists in the context of consumer behaviour and aligning strategies accordingly, marketplaces can effectively guide users from window shopping right to the checkout page. The key lies in not viewing the wishlist as merely a feature but as an integral part of the user journey, representing their aspirations, preferences, and eventual buying decisions.