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Online shopping has become such an integral part of everyday life.
With industry name giants like Amazon, WalMart, eBay, and Etsy dominating online shopping patterns, it can seem unwise to even throw your hat in the marketplace hustle.
Still, smaller yet rising competitors such as Wish do exist and the challenge they bring cannot be discounted.
Today, I want to discuss an online shopping app on your phone: Wish.
Wish functions in a slightly different way from the top kings of Amazon and WalMart; it instead connects with different stores in a similar way to eBay and Etsy.
As a direct competitor seeking to connect others via multiple cheaper storefronts, I wanted to answer the question of whether or not it’s worth investing your time and money in this application.
I’ll begin by looking at the new order experience, seeing what the application offers, and just what the results of ordering seem to be.
Registering Your Account: Let’s Start Out Free
One of the most basic processes, registration begins in much the same way as always.
A banner from Wish greets the user with the promise of making shopping fun, and the user is then told to enter their name, email, and a password to register for a new account.
If you have Facebook or Google account, you can also opt to use these for an easier login.
A running timer informs the user that they have a set time to get a free gift and ten percent off of their first order.
I would be lying myself if I didn’t feel intrigued enough to look into the app for what free options were available.
Objectively, this seems like a nice token for the user because besides from the usual introductory discount, you’re offered a free item just for signing up.
With the gift in mind, the next step simply asks you what gender you’ll be shopping for.
Depending on whether you select that you’re a male or female, you’ll get different gift offers by default; you can still swap between male and female gift options freely.
Additionally, the gender selections will inform what recommendations you get on the actual app start page later on.
In returning to exactly what the “free” part of the experience is like, I have to say there are a lot of options.
I came in expecting a restricted amount, but was surprised when I was given eighteen options for men alone with an equal number available on the woman’s side.
It instilled a bit of confidence in that Wish was confident in its sale model enough that there were a number of choices available.
With that said, however, you’re going to run into the fact that Wish simply doesn’t do a good job at explaining what you’re being offered.
You’re given only one image to decide what you’re purchasing form, and only one of those images for me actually contained text stating what the item is.
Despite this, there are some generic items that you’ll know on sight such as water bottles, rings, or bracelets.
On the other hand, however, you might not specifically know all your USB types, the ammunition (whether it’s live or empty casing), or the purpose of a rubberized ball-like item.
Additionally, if say selecting a toilet seat cover, metal charm, or other jewelry they’ll have all of the different styles all pictured in one image.
When you click to claim your free gift, you’re just given a text list of styles, which don’t really tell you what you’re selecting since there’s no accompanying image.
Overall, it can be a gambit to get what you desire from the actual free portion of the app.
I chose what I thought was a backscratcher just to see if more information would become available once I selected it as my potential free gift.
Instead, I was taken to a checkout menu while telling me that it would cost me fifty cents for the item to be mailed to me.
I had mostly wanted to see if the item was legitimately a backscratcher or an odd gardening tool, so the lack of information at time of purchase seemed perpetually odd to me.
Additionally despite picturing that there were three colors for the item, I was not given the chance to select any of the color varieties.
In the end, I decided I would try to return back to the previous list of items to try and eyeball the other gifts out of curiosity, and I was allowed that much from the application.
However, I was unable to select a new gift option on either the male or female side of the gift spectrum. The button would press, but there was no update; I couldn’t return back to the checkout screen. In the end, I thought I could resolve the issue by closing out the Wish application and restarting it to resume the new user experience.
What followed was the worst part of my app experience. The last item that I had tried to click as claimed was added as the free-item; it was locked in without the option to pick another item.
I was able to finally view the item’s description, which I thought was that of a ring but it turned out to be an arm bracelet instead.
So after deleting the item, the offer was gone and done with.
I imagine I could have contacted support via the application about my troubles, but as the offer was time-gated I expected that the blame would be placed on me for lack of proof.
If you register another account with another email, you are unable to get the free gift as well since it’s strictly bound to the app data that’s on your phone.
So while an appealing offer out the gate, it certainly had its slew of problems that didn’t suggest a high care for its customers.
Still, Wish is largely an app meant to get items cheaply from independent sellers (that often reside out the U.S.), so I can understand this may not be a demerit for everyone if you can get a cheaper deal always.
With that in mind, the application was now open, so I wanted to look at the features that were shown within for the shopping experience.
A Global Platform: Entering the Application
The first item to note was that I took a pause at this stage. I didn’t want to continue using the application with too much immediacy because I wanted to see what the notification amount would be on my phone.
This was especially an item of interest to me because of how many sales were going on with the recent holiday to start of the year period.
As one might expect with a sales app, there’s notifications that will pop up. For the most part, I got daily alerts reminding me to use the ten percent discount that came with a new account.
Afterwards, I periodically received alerts as new sales offers accrued.
If you’re worried about spam there aren’t an excessive amount of notifications (it never seemed to surpass one a day).
If your phone keeps you busy or you don’t like the added notifications, this might be a bit of an annoyance in the long term.
All in all there shouldn’t be too much to concern the user about though unless a series of sales were to come together.
Returning: Daily Login Chain
From that point on, the app greets the user with its daily login process. It seems like a relatively simple reward for what effort is required.
Simply click the stamp, and it will be placed in the application’s booklet until the seventh day actually is reached.
At that point, you’ll be eligible for an up to fifty percent discount (the wording is important) that will go in your coupons section.
Incidentally, while it seemed like a relatively pain-free if you’re the type to check the application everyday, it did not seem to be the same for every other user.
According to complaints from other users, this relatively simple process of rewards has its own bundle of technical issues.
There are accounts of the coupon offer not occurring and the login bonus instantly resetting to day one. Additionally, some users recommend claiming it immediately or it’s lost forever.
While there are these negative accounts by user, I’ve had no issue with redeeming the stamps myself.
You receive a pop-up notification with a copy text option, so I could see how some users might misunderstand that it’s gone after receiving it.
It’s stored in the rewards section that many people might not think to use immediately, but the daily log-in bonus screen does at least link you to view your latest coupons under rewards now in order for users to get into the habit if they’re a careful reader.
Additionally, the wording regarding it can make many users upset because they think they’re going to always be able to receive a fifty percent discount.
If you’re saving up to use the fifty percent discount on a bigger item, you just need to realistically think you’re not going to get that option everyday as the five, ten, and fifteen percent off discounts are weighted much more heavily.
The cost trade-off that occurs relies on masses of users logging for the opportunity and possibly buying before they actually receive their stamps.
Given my personal experience with the free item at the start of my Wish app experience, I’d be very quick to take a screenshot of anything rewarded just in case I do have to go through customer support.
If you’re using an older phone or one that might have issues you might want to consider taking a screenshot for that reason as well or even writing down the coupon code since it’s only seven letters or digits.
I took much of the critique on that specific note with a both a note of caution and understanding, so I’ll say it’s better to just be careful if you’re saving up primarily.
With the login bonus addressed, let’s take some time to actually look over what thumbing through the app from the browse section brings.
Browsing Wish’s Popular Page
Popular items appear as the launch page for all users by default; it’s also a featured website search filter.
If I think back to where I selected my gender at the start, it becomes very apparent that the main reason for its inclusion there was to start generating deals for the application’s algorithm.
Expect to see an assortment of clothing items, jewelry, watches, drones, tech, and anime memorabilia from the get-go as the generic ticket items.
The algorithm does seem to account very well for any item or item types that you view when browsing through.
Overall, if you look at an item expect it to be a mainstay in your recommendations for the next day or so.
Associated item types will also enter in on a daily basis as long as the item in question isn’t too niche categorically.
While you’ll be seeing familiar items, they can be mixed in with the seemingly endless popular items that are seeing swift markdowns.
Overall, it’s not too hard to guess what has been generated as a recommendation based off your viewing history as the displayed purchaser count in app tends to have a much larger difference (hundreds versus thousands of purchases) in terms of count.
In addition to the purchase counters on each item, two additional icons may appear as well.
The first icon that will appear is a small orange motor vehicle indicating that fast delivery is available on the item. It simply means that you’ll receive your item within five to seven days.
The second icon features a blue ribbon with no tassel but a white check-mark is placed within it in order to indicate that Wish shoppers have verified it.
In short, it means the product has consistently gotten favorable ratings by purchasers.
Not many items have the coveted verification mark, so it’s slightly stricter. An item has to achieve an overall rating of four and a half to five starts to get the particular indicator.
For comparison’s sake, a drone with an average of four stars for almost eight thousand and seven hundred reviews at a vast discount hasn’t earned this rating.
Overall, it’s mostly given to items that are incredibly cheap (one to five dollars), or they have below two thousand purchases at this time.
As such, it’s not really a great indicator of quality necessarily. However, you’re probably not going to feel too bad about the product you got relative to what you spent based off this rating indicator.
With our note on pricing relative to prestige ranking, the popular page prices unsurprisingly waiver in between the single digits and up to the thirties with the occasional more costly options.
If you want to see more of how cost seems to be relative to rating, it’s slightly easier with the filter option in the top right.
By clicking the sliding scale option, you can choose to filter out items on any of the many tabs by choosing to filter either by color and/or star rating.
At first, I thought the color option was a bit weird to include compared to any categories that could have been used to filter out products.
However, after looking through the popular page it’s easy to see a pattern with many of the biggest items relating to clothes or items otherwise adorned on the purchaser.
There’s a lot of color options, so if you’re looking to actually accessorize it could prove to be a useful filter.
I made use of the star rating considerably more to easily shift in between degrees of product grade and overall kind of gleam star rating relative to price.
As one might expect, more expensive items tended to be judged a lot more harshly.
Between the two options, they both had useful situational functions, but I couldn’t help but think more general categories would have been useful for filtering the sheer number of stores included thereon.
The exclusion didn’t make sense off-hand for the filter, but the later tabs of the app slightly forgave this weirdness.
As we’ve established a general understanding of how searching and the items are catalogued on Wish, the most proper item to touch on is the facet that makes Wish popular for what it is: it does a great job at making the user feel like they’re interacting to get great deals.
The Games of Wish: Blitz Buy
After thinking about the daily login bonus, I took a moment to think the way online shops try to instill loyalty in their customers.
A lot of the bigger businesses offer online coupons if you subscribe to their correspondences, or you might be able to sniff them out via third party websites that list coupon codes.
Sometimes it even boils down to having to sign-up for a credit card to get some cash saved on a respective website.
Wish definitely doesn’t shy away from notifications both via your phone and by email. However, it’s not as much a waiting game for the coupon offer on Wish exclusively.
Wish wants to make the deals more interactive and really sell hard the idea that you’re getting an unrealistically cheap deal.
Wish decides to introduce the customer to this first with Blitz Buy. As the next featured tab after popular deals on the app, it’s meant to be the next attention-grabbing stop if the popular additions haven’t generated sufficient interest with the user.
Additionally, new customers surely can dream of using a discount code while also “spinning” out a deal on extra-discounted products until they get an item ridiculously cheap.
With that said, it was one of the first parts of the application that caught my interest.
It’s a very visually friendly screen since the tab is scroll-free compared to the nearly endless scroll option of the popular tab.
Additionally, the upper right corner features a helpful explanation of Blitz Buy for anyone willing to click the tiny question mark.
Blitz Buy isn’t too complicated an addition to explain, however. Once per day, a user is able to shop for further discounted items on Wish in a set amount based off the game.
The number they roll on the wheel alters between increments of ten, twenty, fifty, seventy-five, one hundred, and an unspecified amount.
After spinning the wheel, a user should see a brief tutorial explaining there’s a set timer on the items in which they must be purchased.
With the added pressure, I can see where the user here might view it akin to gambling, or they might assume it’s more akin to a healthy online shopping race like with Black Friday and Cyber Monday online.
Regardless of viewpoint is the fact that there’s just ten minutes to review and purchase amongst the items featured.
The wheel seems weighted to the lower amounts, so it’s not a huge deal for many of the cases.
If you roll a higher number off the wheel and are a very undecided yet frugally minded shopper, it might not be a relaxing game for you as you attempt to get through all the options.
As such, you should be wary of the image-only nature of the application and website again where some might be a little visually misleading.
At the time of this review, I have only consistently ten items, so I had enough time to click and identify the unfamiliar items.
While they were mostly self-explanatory in the small sample size (bracelets, t-shirt, and rings) there was one wall decal that wasn’t apparent as a sticker at first.
The items themselves are again slightly weighted by your viewing history, so you might see some familiar offers at a different discount rating.
Items are also not limited to being the same via the website and application. So if you login with the same account, you can technically roll more than once per day.
I received completely new offers each time, so if you’re a true bargain hunter you might run across some more desired options by swapping between the two platforms.
With Blitz Buy discussed, the second and last of the game sections to be discussed is the daily raffle.
Wish’s Daily Raffle: Finishing the Game
The last really involved item when it comes to discussing the Wish application is the daily raffle. It allows users to win free items daily with no shipping cost as long as they have quick fingers.
The only catch is the raffle lasts between 9:00 and 9:15 PM every single day.
The application itself doesn’t specify what time zone it relates to.
In the end, I had to find out that it was central time via a third-party complaint board about the raffle, which also tried to offer tips on how to exactly claim a free item.
At the time of writing, eighty-four items were allegedly offered for the giveaway last time.
This part of the application is a little difficult to review beyond saying it does work in you can attempt to claim the item.
Most of the tips offered on the complaint board by those who have received a free item multiple times consist of sitting on the item, watching the clock and instantly getting ready to check out with it at the time of purchase.
The raffle section is another rush purchase area of the application, so the mileage for the average user will vary based off whether or not you trust the reviews stating that an item was received.
The raffle, however, is not locked beyond the usual point-based pay wall of other applications. As such, I was happy it didn’t say require a certain purchase threshold to participate.
However, the reviews still trended to the negative side, so I’m uncertain of whether or not the user would receive their free item in question since it still originates from different stores rather than Wish itself and this leads to accountability issues.
With that note of caution about the raffle in mind, I want to close on talking a bit about the remaining tabs of Wish and add a bit more about perception of Wish as a whole.
Additional Sorting: Fast Delivery, Brands, Stores of Wish, and the Last Filters
When talking about the popular section of Wish earlier, I expressed that I was disappointed with the filter option, but it made more sense as I went through the rest of the application.
The reason for this is the last three iconed tabs are basically additionally filters for the main page.
The fast delivery tab only showcases items with the little truck sticker to indicate the item will arrive within five to seven days.
The brand page features both categories and branded items. I use the word branded items since you’re not getting official items necessarily.
A good example of this is the featured NFL merchandise that definitely would not be as marked as low as it is if it came from an official source.
There are SONY and other electronic items that seem legitimate, but I imagine they’re mostly a cheaper product line variation.
Still, it’s a nice filter for anyone looking for familiar items they’ve probably heard of in their everyday life.
Additionally categories allow the user to shop familiar topics such as accessories, fashion, gadgets, and more.
I would have preferred if the categories were shown earlier to the user or they were more readily available in the search bar function, but they at least show in the app somewhere.
It’s just an odd subtraction from a very bare minimum search function otherwise.
It does make sense from Wish’s perspective where it wants to push out it’s big ticket sales items, but it’s a bit odd as a consumer that’s looking at the app without straight deal-frenzy.
The final legitimate tab showcases different stores that are rated well and are currently trending in terms of deals.
As one might expect with anything in Wish, both categories amount to who is selling the most in demand yet below ten-dollar items.
This category does make it slightly clearer where you are exactly ordering from and what their other manufactured items are like.
In closing, these last three icon tabs allow for better filtering depending on how in depth you want to go with the app experience.
The store tab in particular does make you question the legitimacy of some of the knock-offs or factory direct items.
Many stores are essentially faceless as they lack both a proper store icon and will use a seemingly random assortment of letters or numbers for a name, which confirms for me that any product issues will not be met with any correspondence back.
Additionally if you’re continuing onward with the app, you can see your recently viewed items along with some of the categories repeated again as a swipe-through option.
Placing them farther away again doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I imagine it could catch the accidental user’s eye.
With this noted, let’s look at some of Wish’s perception as a final closing note in light of these observations.
Value of the Wish Application
If you look at Wish reviews online by consumers, there’s an average of one and a half stars to two stars in general on many of the top review sites.
Additionally, general views on the item quality being small or non-functional is pretty common as well.
As one might expect, what you pay for can wildly vary from the listed photo on Wish.
While the application shows some care is put into enticing users, I really do strive to say you’re getting what you pay for.
Technically the app is fairly bug-free, so it’s a functional option if you want to gamble on getting a cheap replica or otherwise mass-produced item.
Wish just isn’t the fantasy oasis that will crush the mega-giants of online shopping. However, it does allow the user to dream of cheap items. The dream just may not be what the buyer really wanted.