Building a better wish list – part 1

If you have been using Optimized Customized Commerce, you probably know that, by default, wish list is just a cart with a special name. Can you guess the name? Surprise, surprise, it’s “Wishlist”. It’s been there since forever, from the early day of Mediachase, and then carried over to the new serializable cart. I have been “fine” with it – i.e. I accept the approach unconsciously. But until very recently I realized there are several problems with the approach.

How come it is not a very good idea?

First of all, it shares same table as the normal cart. To search for abandoned carts, you would have to skip the carts with “wishlist” name. There are only a few cart names and they are not evenly distributed, you will have hard time filtering carts by their names.

But there is more. As most customers are using the serializable cart mode now, ever growing wishlists also pose a another problem – each operation on the wishlist – adding or removing item, will result in a big write to the SerializableCart table. If you have just a few items, it might be fine, but a simple test on Commerce shows that with only 9 items in wishlist, the Data column is more than 2700 characters. And wishlists are meant to be kept forever – they will only grow in size.

My saved for later on Amazon – which is the closet thing to a “wish list”. Imagine having that on Optimizely Customized Commerce.

As wishlists are carts, they have to be in same format even though a lot of them are redundant/unnessary.

The biggest benefit, and I think it triumphs all other disadvantages we have listed, of the default wishlist implementation is it’s built-in. You can start using it without almost no additional effort. Get a cart with the predefined name and you are good to go. Building a different wish list definitely costs time and resource, a luxury not everyone can afford.

For that, I have been starting building a wish list service on my free time. I plan to make it open source when the time is right, but we’ll see about that.

Moral of the story

  • It is critical to take a step back, from time to time, to think about what you have done. Things might make less senses when you see it from a different perspective.
  • You can almost always do better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *