‘Try At Home Before Buying’ Is Blurring The Lines Between Online And In-Store Fashion RetailWeb-based fashion retailers remain unyielding in their quest to uproot the perceived barbed wire fence that segregates the online and offline channels. Adding an exciting twist to this tale, they are shifting the fitting room to customers’ own comfy pads. Not being able to try the outfits, to touch and feel the fabrics, seeing the colors and texture in various lights, and knowing how the dress looks exactly on your body are still some of the issues due to which customers prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. Ordering a dress only to return in causes more trouble for the customers as well as the retailers.

Minimize returns and back-and-forth bank transactions

Try-at-home options will relieve the shoppers from the agonizing saga of misfits, as they will get the chance to put on the garment at home and then decide whether stack it up in the wardrobe or ship it back to the seller. Apparel is one of the highest selling items on the net. It’s all very fine, but fashion retailers are constantly embattled by returns that have the potential to wreak havoc on organizations’ profits.  It has been found that nearly 50% of the garments sold online come back to the sellers forcing them to survive on slim margins. ‘Try at home before buying’ is a strategy that lowers the incidence of returns and at the same time successfully combats physical stores, thereby helping apparel e-tailers to get their hook into the fashion market.

Online fashion retailers are embracing the try-at-home trend

Programs launched in this domain by various companies are almost identical with just infinitesimal differences. Washington-based premium jeans seller Bluerdenim.com has a ‘try at home’ program where shoppers can check out a maximum of three pair of jeans at home before purchasing. The time period for which shoppers can enjoy the program is seven days. Bungalowclothing.com is giving customers the opportunity to try and choose clothes on similar lines. Here, the process becomes even yummier. Customers get ten days to dispel all their apprehensions about misfit and if they need some more time, they can simply give the brand a buzz or shoot an email. British fashion e-tailer my-wardrobe.com lets customers try dresses for a week so that they can come up with a considered opinion about what to embrace and what to discard. Some retailers are offering the option of waiting at the doorstep while the customer tries on the product and its various sizes before buying only one or all of them. Other retailers are offering it as a premium service to the most loyal customers.

From the customers’ angle

‘Try before buy’ does the trick by giving them the required convenience and privacy to make the right choice and nullifies the hassles of turning up at a brick-and-mortar shop. And the sweetest part of the deal is everything gratis! But, like in the case of any other inviting deal, here also it is good to err on the side of caution. Before taking advantage of a ‘try before buy’ scheme, you must pore over the terms and conditions. Remember, if you keep clothes even after your stipulated home trial session ends, you have to fork out the price. Same will be the outcome if you spoil the products.

From the online fashion retailer’s point of view

For new brands that are not so popular online or the ones that just have an online presence – this can prove to be a great profit generating idea and can aid in shopper activation. Giving the customers the power to try before they make the actual payment, even while shopping online, will only excite them further. Though this might require special arrangements with the delivery/shipping partner, it’s worth the effort as it will enable your customers to choose the perfect fit.

Shopper journey optimization

For retailers the key would be to utilize this new opportunity of shopper interaction and data point to identify trends in shopping behavior. Try at home before buying will enable the fashion retailers to understand exactly what a customer likes and why a piece of clothing is rejected by the shopper and this learning can be incorporated in future apparel designing or how a product is featured on the website. Utilizing the customer shopping and trial history – highly personalized promotions can be offered for better conversions.