Mobile App Strategies of Online Retailers, Pt. 2: Why Wish Launched Multiple Apps

After looking at Amazon’s breathtaking app armada in pt. 1 of our series, we are now going to have a closer look at Wish.

Wish, the controversial mobile cross-border ecommerce app, nowadays sees more than two million orders per day.

ContextLogic Inc. is the company behind Wish. Wish is a truly mobile-first online retailer, but the service can be accessed on the website as well -once you’re logged in-. But that is clearly just an afterthought.

Although most people in the ecommerce sector know about Wish, few seem to realize that Wish is not a single-app company. In fact, Wish, or ContextLogic, has published and runs a handful of apps.

Wish Inc. is the publisher for the Android apps, while ContextLogic is the publisher on Apple’s app store and the Amazon Fire app store.

The Wish app family:

  • Cute – Beauty Shopping
  • Geek – Smarter Shopping
  • Home – Design & Decor Shopping
  • Mama – Thoughtful Shopping
  • Wish -Shopping Made Fun
  • Wish for Merchants
  • Wish Local – Buy & Sell

The original Wish app debuted in 2012.

All the other apps were released between November 2014 and September 2015, making that a clear push at the company for multiple apps.

Cute – Beauty Shopping

Cute - Beauty Shopping

Get trending makeup and beauty products at 50-90% OFF retail. Cute is the number one app in Europe and North America to get the best deals on cosmetics, fragrances, skincare, haircare and other beauty accessories. We go directly to the manufacturers to get you the best deals on the most popular products.

According to app research engine App Annie, Wish’s Cute app got featured 83 times on the category site ‘shopping’ at Google Play in what looks like to be every country the app is available in.

Android installs according to Google Play are between five million and 10 million.

Geek -Smarter Shopping

Geek - Smarter Shopping

Get trending products at 50-80% OFF what you would pay at your local stores. Get the smartest deals on headphones, watches, speakers, phone upgrades, car accessories, and electronics directly on your phone. We go directly to the manufacturers to get you the best deals on stuff you want. So don’t get up, keep sitting and shop smart and we’ll take care of the rest.

According to App Annie, Geek got promoted on Google Play 119 times until now. Downloads, according to App Annie, are between 10 and 50 million on Android.

Home – Design & Decor Shopping

Home - Design & Decor Shopping

Get trending products at 50-80% OFF what you would pay at your local stores. Get the best deals on products for your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and more directly on your phone. We go directly to the manufacturers to get you the best deals on stuff you want.

According to App Annie, Home enjoyed 97 promotions on Google Play.

Mama – Thoughtful Shopping

You may have guessed by now how the game is being played:

Mama -Thoughtful Shopping

Get trending maternity, newborn, infant, toddler, and kids products at 50-90% OFF retail. Mama is the number one app in Europe and North America to get the best deals on thoughtful items for your loved ones. We go directly to the manufacturers to get you the best deals on the most popular products.

The Mama app saw, according to App Annie, downloads of 5 to 10 million on Android to date.

The main app: Wish- Shopping Made Fun (Android, iOS)


Over 200 million people use Wish to get trending items for 50-80% cheaper than what you’d pay at your local mall. Join them and get the hottest products at incredible prices delivered directly to your door. Wish is the #1 shopping mall in Europe and North America, allowing you to browse a worldwide selection of trending fashion, accessories, and electronics directly at your fingertips.

Features Include:
Browse through millions of products in your favorite categories
Refine search by Size, Color, and Rating
Shop branded products in Wish Outlet
Deal Dash – Once-a-day extra discount on a select number of items
Hourly Deals – 2 Featured products receive extra discounts every hour!
Access to thousands of trustworthy user reviews & photos
Add items to your Wish List and view them at anytime
Create multiple Wish Lists, such as “Holiday Outfits” or “Android Accessories”
Enter Promo Code in shopping cart before checkout
Easy “slide-to-pay” checkout

The Wish app got featured 368 times on the shopping category page in Google Play and managed to get three valuable promotions onto the Google Play homepage, according to App Annie. In total, Wish got installments somewhere from 100 millions to 500 millions on Android. Wish, see quote above, speaks of “over 200 million people” using Wish.

On iOS, Wish scored 49 homepage promotions on the iPhone app store, and 566 category promotions. On the iPad app store, Wish got promoted at the homepage 69 times, and 600 times in the shopping category. All numbers come from App Annie.


Wish Local – Buy & Sell is the big outlier here:

Discover amazing deals on preloved items on sale by your neighbors! Wish Local is the safest and easiest way to sell your items and find local buyers. Selling an item is as simple as snapping a photo and is completely free!

All deals are done through private chats so you can buy and sell the safe way.

Start shopping on Wish Local today to join a fast growing community selling everything including electronics, clothes, jewelry, furniture and more.

Wish Local saw 1 to 5 million installs according to Google Play. The app received its last update in April of 2016. Which means, it is almost certainly dead. (And rightly so, a local marketplace is a distraction to Wish’s thriving cross-border model.)

Wish for Merchants is the app for sellers on Wish:

App Features
– Follow store metrics. Stay up to date with all of your store metrics including impressions, sales, and wishes.
– Check notifications. Get real time notifications on all changes and updates to your store straight on your mobile phone.
– See system updates. Receive the latest Wish merchant platform changes and updates immediately as they happen.

Wish for Merchants

Apps for categories, bound together by the same marketplace behind them

When you look at those Wish apps you can clearly see that they don’t differ much from each other. They follow the same design patterns and most likely only differentiate from each other regarding the product categories. It’s obvious they are based on the same app framework, most likely even the same app, that just gets filled via different inventory APIs in the backend.

So, why multiple but very similar apps for different categories? Those categories could just as easily be part of the same app. (and in a way, they are. see below) Remember those apps all getting started around between November 2014 and September 2015? Around the same time, Wish started taking off via a massive Facebook install ad campaign.

It is very likely that Wish using Facebook ads led directly to those category apps:

Advertising specific product categories allows for better targeting on Facebook. If you do advertise a specific category with linking to a general shopping app, you create hurdles for people to get to what you were advertising for: You can’t directly link to something in an app with such an install ad. That install ad only links to the app store page of your app. So: People have to download your app after they tapped on your ad. After they have downloaded your app, they have to register and than they have to search for the product category you were advertising. Maybe they looked at the app store page of you app and decided against installing your app because the first couple of screenshots there had different product categories in them than what you had advertised.

So, those category-specific apps help Wish with conversion from Facebook install ad to purchase within app. Given that the products in those category-specific apps could be found in Wish as well -we tried several products from other apps and found all of them in Wish, too-, the chicken-and-egg challenge in establishing a marketplace in the first place is minimized: For the sellers Wish and its companion apps are all the same marketplace. Products are presented identically across the app family. (same prices, too, as far as we can tell)

On the user side, the Facebook login reduces the friction for onboarding on yet another app. Obviously, user reviews are aggregated as well across the app family.

This interchangeability between the apps confirms the theory that this is about targeting Facebook and nothing else.

This is not necessarily a bad thing or even unsustainable. Once someone discovers the Home – Design & Decor Shopping app through Facebook, they may like to shop regularly for those products in the Home app. Over time, Wish may manage to get them to install the Wish app or another sister app. Even if Wish does not succeed in that specifically: What Wish is doing here seems to be the logical next step for apps finding their audience through Facebook install ads. Go niche.

Like webshops optimizing for Google with SEO, Wish’s apps are build to serve the distribution channel of Facebook ads better than more general shopping app. (which you can’t link in to for better targeting, at least until the app is installed on your customer’s smartphone) This advantage seems to offset the disadvantage of having to establish several apps. (Again, that disadvantage is minimized thanks to the marketplace being the same across all apps.)

It makes one wonder, what over dimensions shopping apps could optimize in to become better subjects for Facebook install ads.

The chosen categories by Wish certainly tell us something about what works with Facebook ads on a large scale.

One final note: The Wish companion apps saw regular upddates througout 2016 until October. Then, the next app update came in April of 2017. That is the latest one. Over the same time, the Wish main app saw updates every two to three weeks.

Wish’s app strategy quite clearly has changed again. Comparing the Google Play install numbers (lower double-digit millions for single-category apps to hundreds of millions for the main app) also shows clearly who the winner here is.

Wish being less dependent on Facebook install ads to drive new and regular customers may mean a lesser focus on those category apps as well. But that’s just reading tealeaves at this point. Either way, the main Wish app seems to have won.

More on this topic:

One comment

  1. […] Mobile App Strategies of Online Retailers, Pt. 2: Why Wish Launched Multiple Apps […]


%d bloggers like this: