The day the wish lists died

Thursday, October 22, 2015

An Anthro fan ponders just what to write in her hate letter, and smiles when she comes up with something good.

Yesterday the community here was livid to discover that our wishlists had mysteriously shrunk from whatever size they were (in my case, all 400+ items) down to 100 items. Not only that, in order to add any more items to our newly slimmed-down lists, we'd have to delete at least another 25 items as the new wishlist limit appears to be 75 items.

The community is angry and this post serves mostly as an open discussion thread, adding to the many comments about it in this week's sale post. Inside, my thoughts on the matter and then I turn it over to all of you...

Anthropologie made some highly curious decisions along the way here in chopping our wishlists down to size. For whatever reason they chose in most cases to preserve the oldest items on our lists rather than the newest ones. They didn't warn us this was happening ahead of time (that seems to be the biggest bone of contention within the community). And just a month or two ago they'd actually removed the previously-in-place 450-item wishlist limit which led my lists to balloon to over 600 items in some cases.

As usual Anthro is mum on the matter though this does seem to be a push towards their Registry feature. More on that below.

Personally, while I'm bummed that my wishlists got ransacked, I simply cannot work up the vitriol that I've seen around this issue. Yes, it does blow that I lost the latest additions to my my wishlist and years worth of other items. But to be honest I hadn't been using the wishlist feature the way Anthropologie intended anyway. Was I ever possibly going to purchase all 600 items stored on a list? (And over 2,000 spread among my 5 wishlists?) Never.

We think that all of these items on our huge wishlists are someday going to pop back, so when we logged in and saw our lists had been cut down by hundreds of items it felt as though we'd 'lost' something. In truth however we didn't lose much of anything...yes, on very rare occasions older items do pop back and it's incredibly exciting to be able to score an item from 3 or 4 years ago. But we're more like hoarders really, unable (or unwilling) to let go of items long since sold out that are just taking up space on our lists...and on Anthropologie's database servers.

Of course, Anthro doesn't exactly make it easy to manage a list. It is realistic that as a huge Anthro fan I might add 30 items from each rollout to my wishlist. Not that I plan to buy them all, but when I do go to buy it's a great reminder of "oh yeah, these are the items that really appealed to me." But when rollouts coalesce and before I know it I've got 100 items I'm interested in, there's no easy way to cut down my list. Anthropologie only allows us to delete a single item at a time off our wishlists, which is a pain in the ass. When you buy an item directly from your wishlist, that item falls to the end of the wishlist, and it might then take pages of scrolling (god I hate the pages, who uses that these days on a non-ad driven website??!) to get to that item to delete it.

I can't think of a single other retailer that lets you have as many items on your wishlist as Anthropologie used to. Most retailers have a limit of 150 items or less. So really, this comes as no surprise. Those lists are basically useless storage to retailers, money they are paying each month to store these lists on a database server. I guess Anthro decided the database storage fees (plus their logs and backups) were no longer worth the convenience to customers and I can't say I blame them. Data is expensive, even at the corporate level! Three even older DB servers costs hundreds of dollars to maintain, plus extra charges for data transit, log storage, backups...I know customers don't care about this kind of stuff, but it impacts the bottom line. Which impacts product prices. Which impacts customers.

Anyway, it seems as though this is all a grand gesture to push customers towards using Anthro's registry feature instead of the wishlist. The registries are publicly searchable the way wishlists used to be, and the general feature set seems more targeted towards what we want. Except that it feels totally awkward to me because the page title is "Wedding & Bridal Gift Registry" and umm, I'm not getting married right now. And would I really put a dress, sweater or tights on my registry? It's kinda laughable. Unfortunately it seems registry is no less susceptible to the bugs that have plagued wishlists, if the last comment on this post is to be believed.

Wishlists have also been prone to losing items I recently added (super frustrating) and they don't have a good way of showing when other sizes/colors of an item are available when the color/size I originally chose sell out. It's kind of a halfway feature and one Anthro doesn't seem very interested in investing in further.

So, for me, this is just a gentle nudge towards keeping a small wishlist on their site and perhaps a list somewhere else of the items I'm considering. Annoying? Totally. But hardly something to make me turn away from the brand entirely.

With 24 hours to stew and soothe, how are you feeling today community? Still upset? Less so? Please share your thoughts...