Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

Mobile-Commerce App Wish Says It Knows What Its Users Want to Buy

Wish, the wish-list app from ContextLogic, thinks it knows what you want to buy. And now it says it’s going to prove it.

The app, which has a slick appearance that displays a few products on the screen at one time, asks new users to select a few items that they like — maybe a pair of shoes or a bracelet — so that the app can start getting a sense of their tastes. Then it populates their feed with more products that they are likely to save to a wish list or share with friends.

Originally, the app was populated with images of products that users uploaded, or that the company grabbed from other commerce sites through APIs. But over the last few months, the company started inviting online sellers to upload their own products into the Wish system as part of a beta program. And now the company is launching that merchant self-service tool widely.

Wish’s pitch to merchants is that if you have the right products for the Wish audience — right now, mostly fashion items and accessories targeting women — Wish can sell your stuff quickly because it knows what its users like, and will push those products into the product streams of the most likely buyers. Merchants upload their product portfolio into the system, with text and images, as well as any discounts they want to offer, and Wish says it does the rest.

“The intent data allows us to build a really, really good understanding and profile of each user and give them a really, really relevant feed of products,” said Peter Szulczewski, CEO of Wish parent company ContextLogic.

Wish products that are available for purchase contain a small shopping cart icon and price underneath the image. Wish takes, on average, 20 percent of merchant sales. The app doesn’t charge a listing fee.

So, how big is Wish? Szulczewski says that 500,000 people visit the app each day, spending an average of 29 minutes over five to 10 sessions. The vast majority are women, mostly between the ages of 15 and 25. A little more than a third of those people live outside the U.S. and Canada. So if you’re a U.S. or Canadian merchant that doesn’t ship overseas, you’ll have to cross a decent chunk of the Wish audience off your prospects list.

But, by the looks of it, some of Wish’s biggest sellers during the beta period of the self-serve merchant platform have been overseas wholesalers. Asked for the top sellers, a Wish rep mentioned three that you’ve probably never heard of, including DealeXtreme, Banggood and Screamprice, a site that sells inexpensive jewelry and electronics accessories such as iPhone cases. Ray Zhu, managing director of Screamprice, said in an email that his company is now selling more than $2,700 worth of goods each day on Wish.

Wish sat at No. 60 on the iOS App Store’s list of the top free Lifestyle apps on Thursday, while competitor Wanelo came in at No. 28.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald