How to Create an App like Wish and Make it Thrive?

Rating — 5·14 min·October 12, 2023
How to Create an App like Wish and Make it Thrive?
How to Create an App like Wish and Make it Thrive?
Would you like to raise a company worth more than 10 billion dollars? Of course, who wouldn’t! Let’s learn from world e-commerce leaders and find out how to build an app as prosperous as Wish marketplace
Enjoyed the article?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get content updates!

What would you do if someone offered you $10 billion for your software product? What would you do if world-known e-commerce leaders wanted to buy your idea or your product? Would you sell it and buy a villa on Cote d'Azur? Or would this offer inspire you to reach even better results and earn more than $10 billion? Would you have enough confidence to reject a proposal like this?

Rumour has it, Peter Szulczewski, one of the Wish e-commerce marketplace founders, said no when Jeff Bezos offered a fabulously huge amount of money for his app. Although non-disclosure agreements didn’t let us find out the exact sum of the offer, the facts are still surprising: a young e-commerce business rejected to join the Amazon corporation! What courage, what the ambitions!

Nowadays, Wish marketplace blooms and blossoms. It is one of the most downloaded shopping apps worldwide, and its popularity keeps rising. Interested in its success and viability, we have decided to investigate its history and spicy details as well as answer a noteworthy question: how to develop an online marketplace like Wish? How to avoid its mistakes and launch an even better solution?

Make yourself comfortable, and get ready for a comprehensive explanation, important details and valuable guide on Wish-like marketplace development.

Wish marketplace prosperity in numbers and facts

Some of our readers may haven’t even heard of an app like Wish. It is a sort of e-commerce platform and app: here, you can find tons of different entertaining, useful (and sometimes, low quality) products. In spite of its specifics and even customer complaints, it has found its target audience and reached the billion-dollar success.

The key features of Wish goods are their prices: they are very low here. The reasons may be different, but mostly, low prices are caused by:

  • Low cost of the products manufactured by no-name China sellers;
  • Low shipping price due to cooperation between China Post and the US Postal Service.

To warm up your interest, we collected some of the striking facts about Wish marketplace:

The details about Wish marketplace

There are more than 80% of the repeatable purchases on a platform. Let’s admit: this is the result that thousands of e-commerce businesses worldwide pursue.

How Wish shopping app reached the success

Much can be told about Wish’s extraordinarily cheap prices and powerful advertising. But along with that, Wish should have employed some more tactics and use other approaches to attract so many customers to its pages. We have thought about this and dived into the marketplace’s history to reveal the truth. This is what we are ready to share with you:

Szulczewski’s background

One of the company’s founders has experienced Poland’s communism in the 1980s. During his childhood, things like products’ deficit were common. After the emigration to Canada, Szulczewski still was looking at the traditional commerce in his own way. Thus, the co-founder himself says that he planned to make a Wish marketplace for ordinary Americans who live from salary to salary and often prefer cheap products instead of trendy ones.

Solid engineering experience

Both Wish co-founders have powerful IT engineering skills. They studied together in college and trained their skills in companies like Google and Yellow Pages. Thus, when the idea to start own businesses appeared, they both were skilled specialists already.

Low Wish app development costs

Wish began its path to success from an MVP - it was a simple platform highlighting popular products. Wish never owned or sold them; people could just add the items to their wish lists. After that, the platform sent ads about an opportunity to sell products to a ready-made customer base to Amazon merchants. In fact, everything a platform did was bringing together sellers and customers. Years went by, and this strategy turned out to be successful. Later, Wish turned into a Marketplace where one can find everything and buy it for the best price.

A huge amount of sold products

Wish is free to download; Wish is free to use. So how does Wish make money? The founders make money on a volume of sold products. Extremely low prices, active advertising and a variety of products appeal to customers and make them buy more and more. A 1-dollar difference between the manufacturer’s price and website’s price turns in billion-dollars income if a billion products are sold.

Revenue of Wish marketplace

5 applications for particular customers’ needs

Each of the below-mentioned apps augments the functionality of core Wish shopping app. These apps are closely related; however, they are devoted to different topics and cater to the needs of a particular target audience in a better way.

On Wish website or via a mobile app itself, customers can buy everything from a high-tech gadget to a lady’s purse. Besides, there are 5 more handy programming solutions:

Wish marketplace products

  1. Wish for Merchants

A few lines above, we’ve mentioned the Wish app for buyers. Here, we mean another sort of app. This is an admin panel for merchants they use to trade successfully. Wish application for merchants contains numerous tools and features that make online sales fast, simple and convenient.

  1. Geek Wish

This app focuses on selling devices only. In its catalog, laptops, smartwatches, tablets, etc are available for purchase.

  1. Home Décor

Guess what one can buy here? Yeah, you’re right. Home accessories and interior details are in Home Décor app’s assortment.

  1. Cute Wish

This is a girlish app. Users can find makeup products and cosmetics, accessories, clothing and similar products here.

  1. Mama Shopping

Here, merchants present their baby goods for sale. Assortment includes toys, accessories, child-care products, clothes etc.

The fragmentation was constructed to help a customer find exactly what he or she needs.

However, along with the searched products, a customer always has access to some extra categories so the migration between apps and products is quite seamless.

Wish website: customers’ complaints

There are many great and useful things we can learn from Wish. To prevail over it and other similar solutions, you should be aware of its disadvantages and things people hate about Wish:

Frequent complaints about Wish marketplace

Awfully low quality of products

Some of the former customers say that Wish is “just a scam”. Why? That’s all because of the low quality of Chinese products. Gloves that turn your palms blue, power banks that break down the next day they’ve been delivered, earphones that die after the first song on your morning run – this all can be told about Wish products.

What can we learn from it?

Good reputation requires work with recognizable brands and keep an eye on customers’ reviews. Now, Szczulkewski admires that quality control is a huge problem, and Wish tries to improve it. However, the damage is done: many customers will never come back to this marketplace. To make your app like Wish, pay attention to products’ quality.

Technical issues

We investigated apps’ reviews on Play Market. According to some customers’ opinions, Wish store for Merchants has serious troubles with login. No doubts, users are the best testers. However, a company’s engineers should do their work well, too.

What can we learn from it?

Product quality control is significant; app quality assurance is vital. In order to prove you’re better than any similar e-commerce company, you should demonstrate the impeccable quality and react to customers’ complaints immediately.

Want to know how to avoid the troubles Wish marketplace has to fight?
Our team is ready to offer a solution to satisfy both sellers and buyers

Miserable customer support

They say Wish specialists not only fail to provide high-level quality but also fail to react to requests. It is really hard to handle issues when manufacturers are based thousands of miles away from customers. Thus, the customer service team should be well-trained and responsive, not careless.

What can we learn from this?

Listen to your clients. Train your staff. Focus on soft skills development and build your business on customers’ wishes.

Continuous troubles with a refund

There are 2 main problematic use cases:

  • For sellers: Wish promises full refund for customers that made wrong orders; as a result, merchants lose money and refuse to sell on Wish;
  • For buyers: if your parcel has been delivered damaged, or you’ve got wrong products, it is really hard to reach out to support team and get your money back; this issue pushes shoppers away.

What can we learn from it?

Brainstorm over your refund policy and study from the best examples. Write about it on your website and let customers know how the entire process looks like. And once again, train your staff to respond to refund-connected troubles quickly.

How to build a marketplace like Wish: significant functionality

This chapter requires a special approach. Apps like Wish bring together 3 main parties:

  • Platform’s admin;
  • Retailers that sell their products on a platform;
  • Customers.

To understand correctly how to build your e-commerce solution, let’s see what features each side of cooperation needs.

Common Features
Live chat so all parties can communicate on a platform in real-time
Notifications, reminders, newsletters providing information about recent updates, critical changes, suspicious behaviour, latest news etc.
Integration with Google Maps with access to shipping details and order tracking feature.


Features for Customers Features for Sellers Features for Admin
Simple signup to enter the platform in a few clicks Profile registration and verification Login with the strong password
Profile management features: adding a photo, editing info, etc Product catalogs to easily add and manage listings Reports and statistics describing the overall situation in your marketplace
Convenient filters to browse product listings Product advertising and promoting User management: admin can verify user’s info, view profiles, block them etc.
Suggested offers, or products similar to those a customer looks for Orders section: info about current purchases, payment and shipping details Product categories management: admin can create new categories, edit the existing ones etc.
Good-looking product page with the necessary details provided Accounting section: let sellers have their entire digital accounting departments Promotion management and ads posting
AR-powered online changing room Integration with 3rd party services Reviews and ratings management
Wish Lists with opportunity to buy wished products later Tax calculation feature  
Cart containing the items a person wants to buy Product reviews and ratings  
Loyalty programs and exclusive offers    
Several payment options like Pay with Card, PayPal, Stripe etc  



Features for Customers

Provide customers with the following opportunities:

  • Fast and easy signup or registration (a perfect option is to integrate it with customer’s social media profile and make a one-click registration);
  • Profile management features that enable adding a personal photo, changing personal details, having access to previous purchases etc;
  • A simple search with filters: let them find either specific store or just a product they look for;
  • Suggested offers: augment the search with your exclusive offers and demonstrate more of products available;
  • Product page with a detailed description, photos, videos, and previous buyers’ reviews;
  • Changing rooms powered by Augmented Reality technologies, which is one of the main e-commerce trends of the coming year;
  • Wish Lists: let customers save the products they like and purchase them later;
  • Add to Cart button (keep in mind it should be noticeable and conveniently placed on a screen);
  • Payment gateway providing an opportunity to pay with a credit card, use PayPal and Stripe etc;
  • Loyalty programs built specifically for your e-commerce platform: you must attract your customers with unique offers.

Features for Sellers

Sellers appreciate the following functionality:

  • Registration and verification: from the very beginning, make sure only trustworthy merchants grow business on your platform;
  • Catalogs for adding and managing products;
  • Paid product promotion;
  • Orders section with information about each purchase, payment and shipping statuses;
  • Accounting section: in case a merchant doesn’t cooperate with accounting specialists, providing this sort of services may become your platform’s great advantage;
  • Integration with a warehouse management system and other CMSs;
  • Tax calculation feature;
  • Product reviews and ratings.

Features for platform’s Admin

The one who manages a marketplace should have access to such functionality:

  • Login with a unique ID and strong password to enter the admin panel;
  • Reports and statistics describing the average time people spend on your platform, user’s gender, age, location, performance and financial statistics etc;
  • User management section that allows viewing user’s profile, providing access to advanced features, blocking a user etc;
  • Product categories management section;
  • Promotions management section;
  • Reviews management section.

There are several common features for all involved sides:

  • Live chat;
  • Notifications, reminders, newsletters;
  • Shipment tracking features and Google map integration;

Keep in mind that these features are essential. You can add additional ones that depend completely on your platform’s and business’ specifics. However, implementing this basic set of features, you take the first step to online marketplace success.

How to make a profit?

To build a website like Wish, you have to decide on a monetization model. We have analyzed the easiest way to make money on the e-commerce platform like Wish, and here are some of them:

How to monetize a marketplace platform like Wish


Providing certain functionality for free, you make customers join your marketplace. Extending their opportunities with more advanced, convenient features, you make them spend money on your app. Keep the “free features - paid features” balance in order not to push users away. Pricing and quality matters, too: demanding much money for questionable features, you harm your own reputation and rapidly lose users’ preference.

Subscription plan

If you have a great customer base, you can employ the subscription model. In this case, you:

  • Demonstrate sellers a number and level of involvement of customers you already have;
  • Describe the advantages of a subscription plan;
  • Grow your marketplace.

According to this model, sellers are only allowed to sell products to the customers after they pay for a subscription on your platform. Keep in mind that it is obligatory to have a solid real customer base to use subscriptions.

Charging for a purchase

Quite simply, quite reasonable. You charge sellers for each successful purchase. This model attracts those who don’t sell too much as they don’t have to spend money on rare sales. So if your marketplace isn’t legendary prosperous yet, this may be a good option.


Good old ads move this world forward. In case you’re able to demonstrate impressive metrics, ads may move your business forward, too. To employ this model, the number of visitors should be high enough to make companies pay for ads on your platform.

How to create apps like Wish and other Frequently Asked Questions

Here, we would like to highlight the answers to the 3 most popular questions our partners are interested in:

How to build a marketplace like Wish

And now let's go into details of each question.

“Should I build it from scratch or use ready-made solutions?”

Let have a closer look at the methods available:

  • Ready-made solutions

You can use special platforms or SaaS products to start fast and easy. Here are some of them:

  • Yelo is a complete platform for building online marketplaces. It is simple and free to start with.
  • Sharetribe is a huge platform with more than 10-years of history and offers a great library for marketplace customization.
  • Arcadier is another tool for marketplace development powered with great SEO features. However, it may be slightly unclear to start with.

But we have to warn you: ready-made tools won’t provide you with enough customization and flexibility. They are easy to start with; they provide basic functionality and may help you to validate an idea. But still, they are not powerful enough to build your own prosperous marketplace on their basis. If you invest money in software development, you want to be sure about the results’ quality. And to reach the quality that will bring you revenue, you should opt for custom development.

  • Custom development

If you would like your online marketplace to look unique, opt for a tailor-made solution. If you plan to continuously improve your app, add new features and cater to customers’ needs in a better way, choose this option as well.

It may take time. But the results will surprise you. It won’t be cheap, but you will get much higher revenue in return.

“What is the typical team size?”

If you would like to build a cross-browser solution that also looks great on mobile devices, your team should include:

  • Back-end or server-side engineers;
  • Front-end or interface developers;
  • Mobile developers;
  • UI/UX designer;
  • QA engineers.

If you would like to follow the cutting-edge trends, implement Agile for mobile app development and Scrum framework. In this case, you also should hire a Product Owner and a Scrum Master. The HR manager will help you to work with a team. Marketing specialists are needed to promote your fresh new marketplace. So there should be 9+ qualified specialists in your Wish-like app development team.

“Who can do this for me?”

Here, you have 3 options:

  • In-house development team;
  • Freelancers from Upwork;
  • Dedicated outsourcing team.

These days, the outsourcing model has proven to be the most reliable, cost-effective and transparent option. Besides, it is much cheaper in comparison with in-house development.

“How Much Does It Cost To Develop An Online Marketplace Like Wish?”

The cost to build a web app from scratch is a complicated question, and the answer depends completely on your product’s specifics. An e-commerce app powered with basic functionality built by a mid-size outsourcing team will cost you between $25.000 and $40.000.

However, you need to remember: own business development and powerful online marketplace require nonstop investments. To move forward, you should continuously work on new functionality development, extend your marketplace’s borders and actively promote the solution. And if you’ll do this right, if you’ll have a qualified team by your side, one day Amazon will contact you with a daydream offer as well.

Does your app idea have the potential to beat the Wish marketplace?
Bring it to life with real marketplace professionals!
Reviews: 0
Rate us 5 stars!

Want to know more about the project cost?

Feel free to contact us!
By submitting this form, you agree to Clockwise Software Privacy Policy.