Even without an established try-before-you-buy model, retailers’ generous free return policies have led to consumers purchasing multiple items with the intent to send some back.
Retailers like Warby Parker and Amazon have popularized try-before-you-buy by letting consumers try on products at no upfront cost. The consumer is only charged for what they keep, and the remainder is returned.
As a result, a February 2018 study from Brightpearl, conducted by OnePoll, found that over 40% of US and UK retailers have seen a spike in intentional returns compared with a year ago. What's more, some 70% of retailers believe the try-before-you-buy model leads to more returns.
"[Try-before-you-buy] creates a tsunami of returns that could easily overwhelm retailers who do not have the processes or workflows in place to cope with that level of change," the study said.
And this may be why many are hesitant to try it out. More than eight in 10 retailers surveyed said they haven't adopted a try-before-you-buy program—and of that group, roughly six in 10 don't intend to. Just 8.5% said they plan to adopt within the next 12 months, while another 29.7% weren't sure.