Try before you buy – the latest e-commerce gimmick that can increase your revenue

In the highly competitive world of E-commerce, retailers are trying every angle possible to push more traffic to their sites to make those all important sales figures rocket.

Recent methods employed to raise customer satisfaction and revenue levels, include the likes of click and collect and free delivery services. Whilst both these methods have been successful and increased sales for a number of top retailers, the techniques soon spread like wildfire and were adopted by most of the industries key players. When services such as click and collect and next day delivery, become commonplace across a number of E-commerce platforms, they no longer are seen by consumers as thoughtful extras, offered generously by the sites themselves. Instead the consumer begins to see these frills and ad-ons as compulsory services, of which they have a right to receive. They no longer become impressed by these services or enamoured by the brands offering them. In short retailers are always having to battle to provide unique and thoughtful twists on the traditional ways of selling goods and providing customer service,  so that customers feel valued and appreciated.

The latest in techniques designed to cajole customers into purchasing products from one specific retailer over another, is “try-before-you-buy.”

The concept is simple; consumers are encouraged to test out products for free at home before ultimately deciding whether or not they want to pay for them and claim ownership. It may seem like a high risk/ high cost strategy, but the benefits are clear and far-reaching. Below are just some of the arguments for why try-before-you-buy is a clever and worthwhile investment for any E-commerce retailer:


It  attracts new customers. As previously outlined these extra special touches and added perks that consumers aren’t used to seeing elsewhere at the online check out stage or on product pages, is often the catalyst to a consumer becoming emotionally involved with your brand and the incentive that they need to make a purchase on your site.


You are essentially offering great customer service. By allowing consumers to try items on for free, you are being extremely accommodating and flexible in your approach to sales and this has to make you popular.


The risks are incredibly low. If you already offer free delivery and free returns on unwanted stock, then often you will find that customers over order from you as it is.  By offering a try-before-you-buy service, you actually avoid the admin costs of refunding for returned items.


People will forget to return the items. People are lazy. People have hectic lives and more often than not forget to carry out duties such as returning items to an online store. If you send out items under the terms and conditions that individuals must return them before a set number of days, or their accounts will be debited the full amount for the items, then you stand to bring in significant levels of extra revenue. So long as you clearly state that this is your policy, you are unlikely to win too many enemies from this approach.


Let’s look at a few sites that are tapping into the potential of try-before-you-buy.




Rocksbox works on a subscription model, so users effectively borrow jewellery.


Once they sign up to the site and commit to a monthly payment, customers are sent three pieces of jewellery, which they can either send back and request other pieces, or they can buy the items for 20% cheaper than the store price.


To add an even more personal touch to its customer service, Rocksbox asks consumers to complete a questionnaire stating what type of jewellery they like, to ensure that they send the pieces customers will appreciate and want to buy.


Trunk Club.


When you land on their site, you have to first complete a survey before being matched with a stylist who provides you with clothes based on your preferences.


You are then sent a trunk of clothes which you are only billed for if you fail to return it within 10 days.


Both these sites, seek to capture unique data that helps them understand their customers, so that when they go to send out the try-before-you-buy stock, there is a high percent chance that consumers will opt to buy the items. This approach creates a familiar and personal relationship between retailers and customers, eliciting high levels of brand trust and satisfaction.


The try-before-you-buy technique, may just be the approach you need to implement, in order to create a truly personal and prosperous relationship between you and your customers.