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At TryNow, we believe it's time for 100% of commerce to be try-before-you-buy
In part one of this three part series, we’re sharing the why, and the WhyNow.
For all the growth and change in ecommerce across the last quarter century, there has been woefully little change in how we transact online.
Ecommerce first emerged in 1994, and was immediately viewed as an alternative to shopping in store -- one that came with its own advantages (no need to visit the store, or even have one nearby!) and drawbacks (shipping fees, buying sight unseen, the hassle of returns, etc.). Sure, these trade-offs were perhaps unavoidable at first, but now?
Today, the industry is older than many of the shoppers themselves. The latest payment technologies and fraud prevention capabilities coupled with advanced reverse logistics solutions make fertile ground for an entirely new way of shopping online: try-before-you-buy. It took less than a decade for Amazon’s then-novel ‘free shipping’ offer to transform the ecommerce landscape into a place where free shipping and easy returns were an expectation of online shoppers everywhere.
At TryNow, there is no more brick and mortar vs. ecommerce -- there are simply merchants who sell, and shoppers who buy. We support the natural order of trying before buying, and we embrace the magnificent ability of technology to enhance the whole of the shopping experience, no matter where it takes place.
A walk down memory lane …
The first true ecommerce transaction -- where the item was purchased and paid for entirely online -- occurred in 1994. Within a year, Amazon and Ebay were founded, and in 1998, PayPal emerged as the first major online payment platform. Now, over a quarter of a century later, ecommerce has seen incredible growth.
Much of this growth can be attributed to access: in 1994, less than 1% of the world's population had internet access, while now, that number is well over 50%. Our ability to transact online has improved with the emergence of more and more secure digital payment options. And our desire to shop online, ignited by both access and convenience, has been fueled by personalization -- of products, of marketing strategies, of experiences, and more.
And yet … ecommerce still makes up less than a quarter of all retail sales, and online conversion rates are still a fraction of in store.
What’s a merchant to do …
It’s no surprise that ecommerce conversion rates can’t keep up with conversion in stores.
On the front end, you have very few barriers to browsing a site -- your site can be accessed from virtually anywhere, and it's open 24/7. In other words, the denominator is massive. This is good news!
However, further down the funnel, things look less rosy for ecommerce. In store, shoppers browse, experience, evaluate, and then purchase. Online, they browse, PURCHASE, then experience and evaluate -- with the looming potential of added work to return unwanted items.
When a shopper has to pay for items before they’re confident in the purchase, this creates massive amounts of friction. Discounts reduce the amount paid, free shipping reduces the opportunity cost, return policies promise a path forward if you’re unhappy, but none of this truly addresses the shoppers primary point of friction: buying before trying.
All of these aforementioned strategies take the ecommerce shopping experience -- and the implied order of events: browse, purchase, experience, evaluate -- as a given. This assumption is what underlies the “online vs brick and mortar” dichotomy of commerce.
What’s in a name …
It's time to try something new to bridge the online / offline gap when it comes to buying and selling. It's time for TryNow.
We believe that the pull to try new things is a fundamental part of being a person. It’s how we grow, change, and open ourselves up to new experiences. It’s how we fill our homes and days with things that bring us joy.
We believe all shoppers should be able to experience the joy of trying new things. This requires true freedom to Try before committing to buy. The bottom line is this: You should not be handing over your money for something you’re not sure about.
We also believe that all makers of great products deserve to have them appreciated; there should be as few barriers as possible between an interested consumer and your product. Merchants with great products should rise to the top.
With try-before-you-buy, the convenience of online and the experience of in-store is not an either-or decision.
We know trying before buying works -- look no further than the Amazon Prime Wardrobes, Warby Parkers, and Stitch Fixes of the world. But until recently, the complexities and risks that arise with a trial program kept all but a few industry giants from capitalizing on the try-before-you-buy model.
Now, the technology exists to offer a fully automated trial experience to shoppers that protects against fraud and seamlessly integrates with a brand’s existing operations.
The latest APIs for order tracking and logistics along with next generation payment and fraud prevention technologies are here to democratize the try-before-you-buy experience and allow merchants to unlock growth.
Keep an eye out for our next post, where we dive deeper into how buying before trying restricts growth, and how we can bring the best elements of commerce past into commerce future.