Attention retailers: Are you offering the best Try Before You Buy model (TBYB)? With consumers demanding a risk-free shopping experience, you need to ensure your approach hits the mark. In a world where online sales are soaring, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy and make sure you’re offering the best possible shopping experience to your customers.
One of the foremost but yet-to-be-solved consumer concerns in shopping online is that buyers cannot try the products before they buy. Amazon came up with a solution. It introduced the ‘Try Before You Buy’ to its customers and it became an instant hit.
However, like other customer experiences (example: same-day delivery promise), which witnessed an adoption spree by merchants of all sizes (once pioneered by giants like Amazon and Walmart), TBYB is yet to make a mark among SMBEs. Why? Read on..
In this blog, we have discussed:
- How can ‘Try Before You Buy’ benefit customers?
- Benefits of ‘Try Before You Buy’ strategy for store owners
- Top brands that are successful in offering TBYB experience
- Shortcomings of TBYB which every merchant should be aware of
- Ideas to solve the challenges in Try Before You Buy
What is Try Before You Buy?
Try Before You Buy is a sales model that allows shoppers to order items online, try them out at home, and then pay only for the items they want to keep. But this is just the start, as many retailers are adding additional functionality to cater to shoppers’ tastes and needs.
For instance, Amazon Prime now offers Prime Personal Shoppers to help its customers build wardrobes or find outfits. Meanwhile, showrooming caters to shoppers who prefer to touch and feel their products in-store, but still want to purchase online. For brands that have multiple brick-and-mortar outlets, webrooming is an option to consider. With this model, shoppers select items of interest online and then visit a store to see them in person.
And then there’s augmented reality (AR) which lets shoppers try a wide variety of consumer items — sneakers, couches, pendant lamps — virtually. Wayfair now allows shoppers to create a room and “decorate with true-to-size furniture that fits your space and style. ”Wayfair’s Try Before You Buy tool offers templates for users to begin designing a new room. They begin by selecting a template (Farmhouse, modern bedroom, etc.), and then create a unique floor plan.
Other AR tools invite shoppers to upload photos of their existing rooms and insert a new couch or set of drapes in order to see how it looks in their space.
Try Before You Buy isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some retailers, like Amazon, will allow customers to send back items for free, while others opt to charge a small fee. Some, such as jewelry brand Gemist, ask users to leave a $45 deposit which can be applied to the purchase if the shopper opts to keep an item. If an item is returned the deposit is returned.
How can ‘Try Before You Buy’ benefit customers?
Eliminating risks in buying
The benefits to consumers are immediate and obvious: the risks of purchasing an item sight/touch unseen are eliminated. Try Before You Buy means they don’t need to shell out money for items they might not want to keep, and if those items don’t meet their expectations they can return them at little or no cost.
Simplified product returns
Online shoppers now need not even run to the post office or UPS store to return a product. Brands that offer TBYB option are now retrieving unwanted items directly from the consumers’ homes through their delivery/fulfillment partners.
Benefits of ‘Try Before You Buy’ strategy for store owners
The benefits to eCommerce managers and shop owners are equally immediate and obvious.
The first benefit is an increase in sales. Consumers are more willing to make a purchase if they know that A.) they don’t need to pay for it prior to determining it’s right for them, and B.) they can easily return it for free.
Customer lifetime value
Try Before You Buy is also a path towards building customer loyalty and driving lifetime value. Consumers prioritize brands that take the risk out of shopping online, and help them ensure they’re completely satisfied with their purchases. The result is higher lifetime value.
The most disappointing experience for customers is when they order something and it turns out to be different than what they expected when they placed the order. 75% of shoppers are influenced by product photos. Misleading photos can make customers buy it and later end up in disappointment. TBYB eliminates such experiences and improves customer satisfaction.
Test new products
Brands can test new products in the market. Instead of going for a full-blown launch of a new product, brands can provide them through ‘try before you buy’ option and test if the product will be a success or not. Brands can also use data from customers to finetune products and relaunch them into the market.
Top brands that are successful in offering TBYB experience
Amazon provides a try-before-you-buy option for its clothing offering, Prime Wardrobe. It provides this option for women, children, men, and infants as well and offers a wide range of brands to choose from, like Adidas, Calvin Klein, etc.
Customers can choose up to 6 products and enjoy a trial period of 7 days. They are charged for only what they keep. The customer can also get a stylist to recommend products based on their preference and budget for $4.99.
Amazon offers this TBYB offer only for its Prime customers.
Source – Amazon UK
DailyLook is a premium brand in the fashion accessories and wardrobe category. The brand offers only 7 to 12 items in their TBYB package for women.
A dedicated stylist will pick items for you based on your style profile. These profiles are filled out by customers when they sign up. The styling fee is 40%, and each item added to your cart costs $80 or more.
However, the brand makes its try-before-you-buy package compelling by providing a 50% offer on the lowest-priced item when customers choose a minimum of 3 items. Also, customers can avail 50% off on two lowest-priced items if they prefer a minimum of 5 items.
Source – dailylook.com
Warby Parker, the eyewear brand, is another major player in the TBYB offering. Customers can get started by uploading their prescriptions to the website.
Customers can choose 5 items, try them for free at home, and return the rest. Consumers can select the glasses based on their choices or use the brand’s guided selling quiz.
The brand also complements users with more than just quality eyewear. If customers don’t have a prescription, they can get their eyes tested at the brand’s brick-and-mortar store nearby. Once the test is done, customers will be given the prescription within 20 mins and they can get started with shopping through the website.
Warby Parker, apart from selling just eyewear, provides value-added services for its customers, becoming a one-stop shop for everything related to eyewear.
Source – Warby Parker
Challenges in TBYB every merchant should overcome
One of the major challenges for retailers like you in ‘Try Before You Buy’ is managing the risk of excessive returns. Here’s why. For a start, you might want to send all the items you think will impress their customers. This strategy could result in either a good increase in order value or a bad extreme, excessive return. And it doesn’t stop there.
Repetition of operational tasks
Returns mean repeating a series of operations like packing, shipping, and restocking. According to a study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) study, Americans returned more than $816 billion worth of merchandise in 2022. The study also found that for every $1 billion in sales, retailers can expect to receive $165 million in merchandise returns. What’s more, for every $100 in returned merchandise accepted, retailers lose $10.40 to return fraud.
Also, the damage repairs and the return shipping costs will be imposed on you. So, battling excessive returns must be your priority while providing TBYB options.
Another factor to consider is the incoming new customers. While product recommendation works for regular customers, it’s different for new customers.
As product recommendation engines work based on a customer’s previous purchases, frequently bought products, and so on, it takes time to build such data for new customers.
So, where can you start? Determining the optimal TBYB quantity is the first step.
Ways to overcome challenges in ‘Try Before You Buy’
How can retailers determine the optimal TBYB quantity?
The top brands that already provide TBYB options offer different quantities. So, you will have to experiment to find the optimal TBYB quantity.
You should understand that the TBYB quantity is based on the customer’s decision to buy. So it is a better strategy to perfect your product recommendation mechanism first.
The likelihood of consumers considering your TBYB package depends on the accuracy of your product recommendation engine. In turn, this ultimately decides the returns percentage and the series of repetitive tasks that follow.
1.Investing in a good product recommendation engine
Product recommendation in eCommerce is the key to conversions. Here are some of the statistics that prove this fact:
- 37% of shoppers who click a recommendation return for another purchase.
- Product recommendation results in 26% higher average order value.
- Product recommendations double click-through rate and increase conversion 4X.
- 75% of customers are more likely to buy based on personalized recommendations.
Choosing a product recommendation engine is a daunting task, as there are many options in the market. If you want clarity on which one to choose, check out our comparison blog of top eCommerce product recommendation engines.
If you are operating on platforms like Adobe Commerce Cloud or Salesforce Commerce Cloud, you can leverage their built-in recommendation engines like Adobe Sensei and Salesforce Einstein. You can learn more about their product recommendation capabilities in our blog.
2. Improving accuracy
After bundling products based on the recommendation in your TBYB package, the next step is to improve accuracy further. Accuracy here is how likely your consumer might like your TBYB package.
To improve the recommendation accuracy, you must continue to send more products. Though it might not be successful initially, the process will eventually unravel data that can help determine the number of products and which products to bundle for each customer profile.
Steps to implement Try Before You Buy
There are plenty of Try Before You Buy plugins that allow you to add in the functionality rather quickly. But if not done correctly, it can lead to issues. So consider the following steps while implementing TBYB:
- Update your product pages to inform consumers of the ‘Try Before You Buy’ option and any limitations (e.g. some retailers will opt to charge a small fee for returns)
- Update your checkout process to collect payment information, but not charge until the consumer opts to keep specific items
- Establish a streamlined returns process. Build out a “returns” section of your website, if necessary. Offer “returns” options on product pages if desired.
- Connect your returns process to your inventory management system, and ensure it is updated frequently so you know what’s in stock.
To do Try Before You Buy correctly, and to ensure your customers have a positive experience, it’s best to partner with an eCommerce expert like Ziffity. Our team has the expertise to design end-to-end process flows, integrate all steps within your existing infrastructure, as well as update your checkout process and product detail pages as required.