The MOST critical feature for an online retailer…

…is the humble wishlist. 

I’ve used, eBay, Indiatimes Shopping, Rediff, Indiaplaza, and multiple other random sites for one-off purchases. But one place I keep coming back to each time, again and again, is Flipkart. And it isn’t necessarily because of the prices or the range.

Take any standard online retailer.  Assume that the other basics are taken care of – secure payment gateways, logistics, a decent range, and good searchability is in place and equivalent for all.

The one with a wishlist feature is the one that wins out. Why? Because it’s not only your wishlist, it’s also your shopping list. Every time you finish reading the book / playing the game / watching the movie you bought on the last purchase, here’s where you’ll go back to. Every time you read a good review or receive a recommendation, you’ll look it up and add it – just for future reference. A couple of weeks later, you have a list of items that you’re not very sure where they came from – but you do know that at some point of time, you wanted to buy them. And you still can.

If the wishlist is socially shareable – I’m talking pre-birthday, pre-anniversary and pre-christmas type occasions – it makes gifting so much easier, and a much more rewarding experience. Sorry, but I’m a greedy bastard.  🙂

Items get added onto the wishlist after the search process, which differentiates it from any newsletter-based or deal-of-the-day type models. Those introduce you to items for the first time, after which you start the price-comparison checks. That works for totally unique items, one-offs you won’t find anywhere else. Commoditized items can’t work here.

Newsletters also have a slight trace of the snake-oil salesman; I may be paranoid, but if I see something at an amazing discount, my first reaction will be to wonder why. Nobody’s in the business of giving money away. Is it defective? Obsolete? Scratched? Pirated? etc. The wishlist, on the other hand, is above and beyond reproach, because you’ve put it together yourself. The items you added weeks ago may now be cheaper in a different listing, but what are the chances you’ll recheck before buying?

Ebay has a watchlist – but it gets purged with every relisting. will need to check the others.

Amazon has an awesome feature – the recommendations obviously, but most important, the ‘people who saw this also saw / bought’. Lets you leap from product to product, literally along a train of thought, always through things that you like, till you stumble upon the one you like enough to buy.

And for everyone else – especially the guys who hold inventory themselves – enable a wishlist. It’ll help.

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