Breaking into Mobile Commerce with Wish: The New Frontier for Ecommerce and Cross-Border Trade

By 2021, the world’s m-commerce sales will make up for 53.9% of all ecommerce sales, making mobile commerce an incredibly efficient way to sell via the online world. With the usage of smartphones increasing and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay rapidly gaining traction amongst smartphone users, it’s clear to see how mobile commerce is likely to become the prevalent way of doing retail business in 2021 – particularly since 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile devices in the last six months.

So how can you develop a compelling mobile commerce strategy for your business? Although many well-established businesses like Amazon have already created their own mobile shopping apps, this may not be practical for small to medium brands due to the investment required to create your own application. Fortunately, there are other ways to break into the rapidly growing mobile commerce market: by integrating with an existing platform such as Wish.

With over 100 million active users and 1.8 million items sold per day, Wish is well known as a leading global ecommerce platform that serves consumers worldwide, making it an excellent opportunity for UK and EU merchants to tap into new markets. 

As part of the Retail Without Borders Digital Series, host Dilyana Gramadarova (also Head of Partnerships at RWB) was joined by a special guest in an exclusive webinar to further explore Wish and mobile commerce. Representing Wish was Business Development Manager for Europe, Alan Small. With over nine years of ecommerce experience and having launched his own online stores, Alan provided us with his unique insights and strategic tips to help you develop your mobile commerce strategy.

In this session led by Dilyana, Alan helped give us an understanding of what it takes to be successful in this industry. What are the key differences between traditional ecommerce and mobile commerce? What are some strategic tips to thrive in this growing space? As a seller, what innovations does Wish offer to support your mobile commerce strategy? In this exclusive RWB webinar, Alan shed light on all of these topics and more.


Introduction to Wish

To begin with, it’s important to explain the background of Wish. Wish is the leading mobile commerce platform in the US and Europe, with a mission to bring an affordable and entertaining mobile shopping experience to billions of consumers around the world. In addition, there are some potential myths or assumptions about Wish which should be dispelled. 

As Alan points out, “people assume we’re a Chinese company, but we’re a ten year old US company headquartered in San Francisco”. Furthermore, people also often assume that Wish is only for Chinese sellers or unbranded products, but this isn’t the case. “Although the majority of our sellers are traditionally Chinese, my main focus is onboarding UK and European merchants”.

To continue, Wish officially has more than half a million sellers globally, is available in over 100 countries, and has more than 150 million items available for sale. Finally, in terms of UK and European sellers compared to Chinese sellers, Alan mentions that “We have a special program in place which not only levels the playing field for you, but will enable you to reach 100 million-plus active monthly users with little competition”. 


Mobile Commerce vs Traditional Ecommerce

Already we have gained an understanding of the sheer size of Wish as a platform, as well as its influence within markets globally. But how does mobile commerce differ to the traditional ecommerce model that we are perhaps more familiar with? Well, the first difference, according to Alan, is when they started. Mobile commerce began in the 90s and refers to the process of buying and selling products and services using internet data via a handheld device. 

On the other hand, ecommerce has been around since the 70s, and describes buying and selling products and services using any sort of electronic system using the internet. At Wish, the first main difference they have noticed is with the devices used. “With mobile commerce you’re using your mobile phone or a tablet, whereas with traditional ecommerce you’re using a laptop or computer.”

The next one is connection. With m-commerce, you have the internet, but you also have mobile data, meaning you can use it on the go anywhere – as opposed to ecommerce, which is usually internet connection only. This feeds into another contrasting feature which is perhaps one of the most significant: reachability.

Everyone who owns a mobile phone almost always has their device on them, so as a merchant, you can always reach those customers with push notifications. As Alan puts it, “mobile commerce is truly a B2C platform, whereas I think ecommerce is more of a C2B platform; the customer is in control, the customer decides when they want to go and buy something online, there’s no easy way for the businesses to reach them otherwise”. Alan believes this is one of the main reasons that m-commerce is overtaking ecommerce. 

To continue, another crucial distinction is mobility: that ability to do transactions wherever you are. Nowadays, consumers are increasingly desiring the possibility to buy something instantly, there and then, even when they are out and about – a feature that m-commerce is able to offer that traditional ecommerce isn’t. This also feeds into location, tracking and security. “With mobile commerce, because of the GPS, you’re able to know where customers are and send them [relevant] push notifications”. This allows you to split the demographic of your users down into cohorts, targeting them specifically with tailored special offers. This might be targeting people in the United Kingdom with England shirts for the Euro’s, or people in Thailand, where it’s approaching monsoon season, with umbrellas.


Wish Innovations

It is clear at this stage that mobile commerce is definitely something that businesses should try and take advantage of if they aren’t already. So what innovations does Wish – as a mobile commerce platform – have in place to benefit sellers? What are some of the tools that the platform has in order to help you get up and running?

One of the main innovations that Alan mentions first is gamification. Wish understands that retention is key – it’s all about keeping the customer’s attention on the platform. According to Alan, “we blur the lines between ecommerce and social media; we incorporate these fresh gamified features: user-generated content such as photos, videos and reviews”. It should not just be a cold-hearted transaction, the goal is to make shopping more of an experience by rewarding you and making browsing more fun and interactive. 

To continue, a really helpful feature is that Wish is one single platform globally. Despite being available in over 100 different countries, “Wish has been built uniquely so that you only ever have to create one account”. You do not need to create a new account to start selling in Germany, the US or Australia for example – you simply choose which countries you want to sell to and Wish will do the rest. This involves promoting your products in those countries, translating your product titles and also converting your currency. Therefore, you manage everything in a single account, while still being able to fulfill all of your cross-border trade. 

Wish even go a step further than that, helping you expand by using data to identify where your product would work – as there could be markets where there’s huge demand, but not a lot of local competition, markets which you might not otherwise have discovered. Finally, Wish is also very strong on logistics, as Alan mentions they have to be, given that “over 60% of all of our orders on Wish are cross-border orders”. Therefore, Wish has its own logistics programs that you can utilise, one example being fulfillment by Wish (FBW), including warehouses in Europe and the US. 

Finally, Alan adds another logistics innovation into the mix – called ‘Wish local’. These are physical, bricks and mortar convenience stores – ranging from small newsagents to huge chains. These are local shops where Wish can send your products, so you can pick them up there. Wish local is a new innovation, but already has a very strong presence in Europe. 



All in all, this exclusive webinar gave us a great insight into the world of mobile commerce. Initially, we learned the reasons why it is overtaking traditional ecommerce – largely due to the benefits it offers both consumers and merchants. Customers benefit from a more convenient and interactive experience, whilst retailers are able to learn about their users and target them with specific push notifications and tailored discounts. 

However, the significant investment required to create your own mobile app means that this is not feasible for every business. That’s where Wish comes in: a convenient way in which you can take advantage of the mobile commerce space without the massive cost of developing your own application. Making one account on Wish gives you access to cross-border trade in over 100 different countries, with Wish doing the work to help you promote your products. 

With strong European logistics innovations, you inherently have an advantage over Chinese sellers, particularly when it comes to bulky products such as those for home and garden (which is one of the most popular categories). Consumers ordering such items from China is far less likely given that it’d cost more in logistics than the product itself. 

This is especially true due to another Wish feature called Wish Express – a really strong way to ensure that you stand out compared to Chinese sellers. If you are able to deliver a product within five business days, you are eligible for Wish Express, which is represented to the customer by an orange truck logo that appears on your product feed. 

Wish Express is one of the most popular filters on Wish, with merchants typically seeing 3x more impressions on products that are Wish Express enabled. This is because the customer knows that they can get the product in five days and it will come from a local seller. Wish is certainly a fantastic option that retailers looking into the mobile commerce market should be considering.


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