Originally designed as a simple app that allowed users to save items they liked to a list, Wish has steadily grown since 2010 to become a powerful online shopping portal. The site allows individual merchants, overwhelmingly based in China, to sell products directly to consumers. Without the middlemen, this means exceptionally low prices for users. Looking for a $6 watch? Check. A $2 necklace? You got it. An $81 refurbished Chromebook. Sure thing.
Of course, with prices this low, quality sometimes suffers and delivery times can exceed three weeks. But if you know how to work Wish, it can be a good tool for getting fun gadgets, interesting fashion and other items without crushing your credit card.
Here’s what you need to know to shop successfully with Wish.
Pick A Platform
Wish’s photo-based interface makes the phone shopping experience very appealing, and the app is available for both iOS and Android platforms. It is also possible – and pleasant – to shop through Wish’s app for Windows or the company’s web-based storefront, which is what we will focus on in this article. All of the same functionality exists in the app, so the lessons here apply to mobile shopping as well.
The Wish site and app require that you sign up, which consists of providing your name and email address, or using your Facebook or Google accounts to log on. Once you satisfy this requirement, you are free to get shopping.
After logging in, you are frequently greeted with an announcement offering some kind of discount. While these discounts don’t often amount to much savings, it’s worth jotting down the code you are given to shave a little more of your grand total when you are ready to check out (although the code will likely also appear as a banner as you shop).
The main Wish screen will show you a random selection of items in which the AI thinks you might be interested. As you use the platform more, the selection will become tailored to your apparent interests. If that selection doesn’t appeal, or you’re looking for something specific, use the search box at the top of the screen.
You can also use the “filter” option on the right side of the screen (or by tapping the slider icon in the app) to sort products according to star rating, price and shipping speed.
Once you find an item you like, click it and you’ll be able to choose your size and color (if applicable). Oddly enough, the Wish interface doesn’t allow you to choose your quantity from this page. To do that you first have to click the “buy” button, and then visit your cart to adjust quantities.
First thing to note here is your shipping cost. It’s a figure that can often be as much or more than the product itself, so pay close attention. This field also shows you how long the product will take to arrive.
After determining the shipping cost, you’ll want to take a few moments and research your product. Particularly helpful here are the reviews, which you can access by clicking on the blue stars at the top of the screen or on the “show more” link further down. Once in the reviews section, you can sort by star rating or you can see only the reviews featuring photos. Because quality can vary wildly on Wish, the reviews are key to helping you make a good purchasing decision.
If you scroll down a bit on the product screen, you’ll also find the “Description” category.
Click into this to get more details about the item. This is where you’ll find out what material a piece of clothing or an accessory is made from and also get a sizing chart if you’re shopping for clothes. Here’s where you can also see what condition electronics are in (refurbished, scratched, etc) and find out if accessories like power cables and other cords will be included in your purchase. The description field is hidden until you click on “Show More,” so it’s easy to miss this step – and important not to.
Lastly, the product screen will occasionally show you a “Buy With Other Shoppers” field.
This is a feature that gives you a slightly better price on some items if someone else is shopping for it at the same time as you. To get the savings, be sure to click the buy button in this field instead of the main buy button. This feature is limited by a countdown clock, so to get the deal you need to complete your purchase in the time shown. The timer will also appear next to the item in your cart. Is it a gimmick? Sure. But it can save you some cash.
Other ways to shop on Wish
At the top of the main screen, you’ll see a golden wheel (which is also labeled “Blitz Buy” on the web store). Clicking here will bring up a game that allows you to spin a wheel to see products that are discounted for one day only. The wheel determines how many of these products you can view by somewhat counterintuitively clicking “Play Now.” The whole thing is pretty much a gimmick and in a recent test, the products revealed after spinning the wheel were no cheaper than they were in the standard store interface, so you might just want to skip the whole thing.
Clicking the orange truck at the top of the screen (labeled “Express” on the web store) will result in a list of products that will arrive in 3-7 business days, which can be a helpful way to sort the products if you are in a hurry to receive something.
Clicking on the word “Outlet” on the web shopping page or on the shopping bag icon in the app will bring you to the Wish Outlet. Unlike many of the products in the main store, all products featured here are from popular brands, so shopping through this interface improves your chances of getting higher quality items still at impressive prices.
Cart and check out
The shopping cart interface on Wish is clean and simple to understand and is accessed by clicking the cart icon at the top of the page. It’s where you can adjust quantities, or set them to “0” if you want to remove something. It also shows you any countdown clocks or group buy deals you might be involved in which ostensibly pushes you to make your purchase decision a little faster, but can also save you a bit of coin.
After clicking “checkout,” you’ll be taken to the payment page where you can enter your payment details. Here is where you can also enter that code we discussed earlier to take a few more percentage points off your total sale. On the app, you can find the box to input the code by scrolling down, while on the website, you simply click “Apply a coupon.”
Also, be on the lookout on this screen for any last-minute promotions. Sometimes you are given a free gift for purchasing a certain amount, and the gift actually is free – you don’t even need to pay shipping, so it’s worth tossing in to your order.
Slide the orange bar on the app to pay, or click the red “Place Order” button on the web store and you’ll be all set.
After placing your order, the company does a good job of keeping you up-to-date on its progress via email alerts or, if you choose the option when you check out, text messages. If you decide that your purchase was a mistake within 8 hours of placing it, you are free to cancel and receive a store credit known as Wish Cash. If your item arrives damaged (not uncommon) or the wrong item is shipped, you can apply for a refund within 30 days of receiving it. You can also apply for a refund if your item never arrives.
Happy bargain hunting!