Why It Took Us 8 Years To Add Wishlists

Over on the Detailed Image Blog I wrote a post describing some new features that we added last week, including the addition of a wishlist, easier ways to reorder products, and more personalized product recommendations.

The latter two are the most intriguing features with some creative potential for expansion, but the decision to finally add a wishlist after all of these years is probably more noteworthy.

Back in 2010 we added a feature called Saved Carts. After adding items to your shopping cart, you could click a “Save” button which would then give you a permanent link to access that cart in the future. To us, this was more powerful than just having a single wishlist. You could create multiple different lists to share with friends & family. You didn’t need an account to save your products.

To a large degree, it’s been a success: we’ve seen all sorts of unexpected creative uses for it, such as pro detailers creating shopping carts to share recommended maintenance products with their customers. Over the years we’ve added functionality, such as the ability to email yourself a copy of a Saved Cart, and the ability to add one or all of the products from a Saved Cart to your current shopping cart.

But, it wasn’t technically a wishlist. We’ve often been asked about why we don’t have a wishlist. We’ve always pointed those customers towards Saved Carts, but over time we came to realize that there was still a big demand for a true wishlist the way that Amazon has a wishlist. Instead of adding something to your cart, you can add it to your wishlist, which you can privately edit but also share publicly.

We finally decided that it was a worthwhile feature to add before this holiday shopping season. When it came time to decide what to do with Saved Carts, we ultimately decided to leave those as-is. They’re similar, but still different enough that we didn’t want to take away or significantly change a feature that some customers found incredibly useful. So, despite some of their redundancies, we think the right call is to keep them both. I wrote up a FAQ to describe the differences.

I think there’s a few good lessons here. First, when you’re a niche retailer (us) and most customers have become accustomed to an e-commerce feature (wishlist), you’re fighting a losing battle when you try to push them towards something different (Saved Carts), even if that different feature is potentially better. There’s nothing wrong with adding something different, but it’s probably a good idea to cover the basics first.

Second, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, sometimes it’s best to have some redundant features, especially when existing customers are used to the existing feature. There’s always an argument to be made to sunset the old and force the new, but that argument shouldn’t always win.