Online shopping is experiencing explosive growth and shoppers are turning more and more towards online stores to make all kinds of purchases. But this newfound fame also brings a series of problems typical only to online stores, like giving customers fear of the dreaded “buyer’s remorse” and many choose not to make purchases they are unsure about.
Customers fear purchasing new products from online stores they’re not familiar with. This fear may come from previous experiences when the size, color, weight or a number of other factors were not correctly described or are different from what is shown in the website’s images and videos.
The classic online shopping experience is all right for most customers, the description, photos, and videos give them most of the information they need, and they make their purchases without hesitation.
But a growing number of online shoppers feel they need to touch and try products before putting their money where their mouth is. The bottom line is different people need different experiences, and the traditional online shopping experience is no longer good enough for most customers.
As a retailer, you know that the best way to get these new customers to buy your products is to let them try them before they buy them. But what’s the best way to go about setting up a “try before you buy” strategy?
There are a few things to consider when planning your strategy, answering the following questions will help you develop a Try Before You Buy strategy that works best for your business and your customers.
Making the important decisions:
What products are you going to offer for trial?
The first step is to decide which products you want to offer for trial. You’ll want to choose products that are popular with your target audience and that will give them a good sense of what your brand is all about. Offering Try Before You Buy with all your products is not recommended if you have a big offering because it can cause problems with inventory and returns handling in the future.
Keep your list of Try Before You Buy products small at first, until your operations department has gotten a good hold on the process, and then you can add more products.
How will customers be able to try the product?
There are a few different ways you can let customers try your products: free samples, free trials, virtual or augmented reality, shipping and return, and more.
Keep your products in mind when choosing a method for trial, since you have to make sure your inventory doesn’t lose in the end. Clothes, glasses, and accessories stores tend to use shipping and returns, allowing customers to try these products at home for a determined amount of time.
Food, makeup, and beauty stores tend to send samples instead, letting new customers taste or apply a product before making a bigger commitment to a new brand.
Other stores like furniture or tattoos, prefer virtual or augmented reality, allowing their shoppers to visualize the products they’re interested in on the actual surface they will be up against.
Whichever method you pick, be sure it’s the best possible experience for your shoppers and for your store.
What kind of commitment are you asking from customers?
When you’re planning your try before you buy strategy, you’ll need to decide what kind of commitment you’re asking from customers. Are you offering a one-time purchase after they try the product? Or are you expecting a subscription to a program?
Knowing what you expect the customer to do after the trial is key to choosing which products and methods you should use in your Try Before You Buy strategy.
What’s the best way to track results?
It’s important to track the results of any strategy you apply to your online store so you can see what’s working and what’s not, and your Try Before You Buy strategy is no different. You need to keep a close eye on the results to preserve your earnings margins and your operations side of things.
There are a few different ways you can track results:
– Sales: Keep track of how many products are sold after customers have tried them.
– Customer feedback: Ask customers for their feedback on the product and their experience with the Try Before You Buy process.
– Web analytics: Track website traffic and see how many people visit your site after trying your product.
How will you follow up with customers after they’ve tried the product?
After customers have tried your product, it’s important to follow up with them and thank them for their business. You can follow up with an email, a phone call, or even a discount for future purchases.
Thanking customers for their business is a great way to build relationships and create repeat customers. Following up with them is also valuable to keep improving your store and products, as well as adjusting your offer to make the most out of this new model.
Picking a Try Before You Buy model
There are four common methods of a Try Before You Buy model to help your customer decide. All these methods leverage different technologies and have different implementation roadmaps. The right method for your business is very much dependent on the type of product you sell and what the purchasing journey looks like for your customer. As we mentioned before, these include:
Great for decoration, furniture, and makeup stores, this has quite high technical challenges but this strategy could help your potential customer and have a big impact on your sales.
Offering a free trial is a good way to draw in customers who otherwise wouldn’t purchase from you.
Ship and return:
With a ship and return option, you can send several items to a customer for a pre-set trial period. This allows the customer to experience the product first-hand in the comfort of their own home. After the trial, the customer will return items they don’t want. The practice in itself can add significant costs and eat up margins fairly quickly, making tracking even more crucial.
You can partner with online services like Stage Try to offer and manage this option, making it extremely effective to help your customers make a purchasing decision and keep your business in good health.
Experience products through existing customers:
Try Before You Buy gives people a personalized experience when online shopping, which makes them recommend products to friends and family. Shoppers are 90% more likely to buy a product online if it’s been recommended by someone close to them. This also personalizes the shopping experience for new customers.
Services like Stage Try give you all the tools you need to manage your new service, from inventory to marketing, making this journey easy and profitable for your business. With Stage Try’s $0, one-click checkout button, shoppers have the fastest checkout experience, and the risks of implementing this model are diminished.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to implementing a Try Before You Buy strategy in your online store. It depends on the products you sell and what the purchasing journey looks like for your customer.
Whichever method you choose, make sure it is aligned with your business goals and that it provides a positive experience for both you and your customers so you can mark it as an absolute success that takes your store to the next level.