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Smartphone app

Where Are They Now?: Wisher

Retail

We spoke to Maz Cohen, founder of the gift registry smartphone app Wisher, to find out how the company is planning to expand globally using gamification and AR for better customer engagement.

With the introduction of the seasonal Wish Factory in London’s Westfield shopping center in December 2017, Wisher officially began its global tour and expansion from wish list app to social commerce platform. When initially featured by Springwise in 2015, Wisher was a wish list app that combined the best of Amazon’s wish list features with the beauty and playfulness of Instagram.

Now, the company is expanding, and with its new Wish Factories, taking on a more curatorial role. Each Wish Factory is a unique retail lab that brings together new and exciting products and experiences into a single, time limited space. Visitors to a Wish Factory can try everything on offer, and as companies everywhere search for the best ways to connect offline with online, Wish Factories provide a valuable testing ground. Large, small, new and established brands alike reap the rewards of instant feedback from people actually using a product. They also gain invaluable social media content. Each Wish Factory experience also includes business support to help participating companies translate wishes into sales.

Current development of the app and the Wish Factory experience is focusing on digitization of the customer journey. After saving an item to a wish list, potential customers will be provided with the best three current prices. Brands can view a leader board to see how their product was received as compared to others in the Wish Factory. Users of the Wisher app come from more than 150 countries, and with Wish Factories scheduled for the Middle East and North Africa, including Dubai, and Asia and the United States throughout 2018, the data available to the company will become richer and richer. Building on the insight gathered from trend identification is something Wisher founder Maz Cohen says the company will do in conjunction with its global expansion. “This is an entirely new ecosystem for retail,” says Cohen. “By creating the experiences millenials have come to expect from the businesses they buy from, these types of agile, flexible spaces help brands of all sizes build buzz.” For startups and companies testing new products, Wish Factories also help bring costs down and provide real-time feedback. Cohen says the company has seen the focus of wish lists change over time. Originally, they were made for others. Now, they tend to be more for the creator and owner – as reminders, as wish lists and as inspiration – with an added social aspect. People often check out the brands and products recommended by the influencers they follow, and then may add the item to their list as well. It’s that entertaining, inspirational and connected aspect of the new version of retail that Wisher is helping to grow.

The platform plans to increase in gamification, including offering rewards, and is currently building augmented reality into the app. The AR will allow users to simply point their device at something in order to add it to their wish list. As a startup, and from experience of working with other startups, the Wisher team says the main challenge is always lack of money. “Finding the best people for each job is tough when money is tight, and it is always far too easy to let the money run away. In our experience, getting to market fast was really important in helping to manage the flow of our finances.”

Now in a position to be able to support other young companies, Wisher is using the Wish Factory experiences as a platform from which brands are able to test ideas and create content. No matter how correctly you do everything as an entrepreneur, “you are not immune to failure,” Cohen says. The path of an entrepreneur is always more difficult than you think, she added. “You need to have the mental toughness to face failure every day while also being ready to quickly pick yourself back up to try again. Failure is truly part of every day of business.” Which isn’t to say that every day cannot be filled with fun as well. Recently Wisher put out an open call for innovative brands with exciting products to take part in the global Wish Factory tour (9 to 12 January 2018) in Las Vegas and is planning further dates and locations to be announced in the coming weeks.

For entrepreneurs wanting to unbox their idea and get it into the hands of the masses, a Wish Factory could be just the magic needed.