Home » Business » The hot e-commerce app Wish has “hundreds of millions of users” (plus other fascinating stats) | TechCrunch

The hot e-commerce app Wish has “hundreds of millions of users” (plus other fascinating stats) | TechCrunch

We’d been eager to learn more about Wish — an e-commerce mobile app that has raised nearly $600 million from investors — as Szulczewski hasn’t talked often with the press or shared much hard information about the company. He did last week, though, including telling attendees that Wish now has “hundreds of millions of users,” that it saw “single-digit billions of dollars” in gross merchandise volume, and seemingly confirming rumors that the company has seen interest (if not concrete acquisition offers) from Alibaba and Amazon.

If you’re interested in e-commerce or want to understand merchants in China particularly, this is a must-read. Here’s much of what Szulczewski had to say:

Szulscewski, a computer scientist by training, noted that he’d spent 6.5 years at Google solving “really big matching problems” before cofounding his company, ContextLogic, from which Wish evolved. The idea was to build a next-generation, mobile ad network to compete with Google’s AdSense network, whose tech was “relatively stale” at the time, in 2011. Szulscewski and his cofounder, Danny Zhang, realized they were “pretty bad at business development,” though, so eventually pivoted to Wish.

Wish began as an app that asked people to create wish lists, then the company approached merchants, letting them know a certain number of customers wanted, say, a certain type of table. Things took off from there, he said.

“We thought that being more relevant and showing the right recommendations would be critical; what we didn’t predict was the types of products and the types of merchants.

“Because shopping on smartphones is relatively new and sort of an impulsive experience, the average order value tends to be relatively low. I don’t think people are comfortable with buying a $5,000 TV on their phone. I think even $300 is high, as most people want to compare prices, read through reviews, etcetera. People were willing to spend $20, $30, $50, but not much more than that [which we learned].

“Another part of our hypothesis that did work was that we’d be so good at relevance that these merchants would ship these things directly from their distribution centers and factories, and we’d cut out all the middle men. But were naïve [about who would do this]. A brand like Nike isn’t going to do that; it would be undercutting all its other retailers and its brand, on which it spends a lot of marketing dollars.

“[On the other hand], if you’re an unbranded merchant who’s selling a dress or a wall mount, you just have your manufacturing and shipping costs, and those are the people we work really well with and why we have such good prices. We know who’s interested in fishing, and our merchants can reach them for free.

The value proposition for the consumer is really cheap stuff. For merchants, it’s, ‘Hey, I don’t have to do anything. I just upload a CSV file or do it through an API or enter it manually, and I just start seeing sales.’

We’d been eager to learn more about Wish — an e-commerce mobile app that has raised nearly $600 million from investors — as Szulczewski hasn’t talked often with the press or shared much hard information about the company. He did last week, though, including telling attendees that Wish now has “hundreds of millions of users,” that it saw “single-digit billions of dollars” in gross merchandise volume, and seemingly confirming rumors that the company has seen interest (if not concrete acquisition offers) from Alibaba and Amazon.

Last week, toward the end of a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco, GGV Capital managing director Hans Tung took the stage to interview one of his portfolio CEOs, Peter Szulczewski of Wish. With an increasingly boisterous crowd as their background, Tung managed to ferret out lots of fascinating  information from the highly personable Szulczewski, who looked very much the part of busy founder. (Blood-shot eyes, rumpled clothing.)

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