Free Home Try-Ons - A Great Idea
It was a great idea. Offer our customers a chance to try 2 different sizes of Tread Labs insoles. They could dial their fit and experience the comfort and performance of high quality orthotic insoles. We would send 2 pairs of insoles to test - walking, running, cycling or however our customers wanted to test our insoles. We'd send them for free and pay shipping both ways. Customers would pay only for the insoles that they kept. What better way to showcase our fit and our quality?
Warby Parker - A High Visibility Home Trial Program
We did our homework. Free home try-ons were popular in a number of industries. Warby Parker was perhaps the best known, with their 5 Frames - 5 Days program. Browse their eyeglass frames on line and pick up to 5 to try at home. Frames are sent at no charge with a prepaid return shipping label. Pick the style you like and send the frames back. After sending your preference and your prescription, Warby Parker sends your finished glasses. It is a slick system that was getting tons of press.
Other Companies Embrace Free Home Try-Ons
Warby Parker wasn't the only company with a home try on program. Several other companies offered the same kind of service - in different product categories. True & Co. offered women a new way to buy bras. Turns out that shopping for bras is the last thing that women want to do. After taking a detailed fit survey and stating the kind of bras you were interested in (athletic, intimate, everyday...) they sent 5 bras for you to try. At home. For free. Their fit algorithm was designed deliver great results. You were only charged for the bras that you kept.
AYR, the women's version of Bonobos, also offered a free home try-on program. For their denim jeans. 3 pairs could be ordered, you only paid for what you kept. For AYR this was quite a project. Between the styles, sizes and denim washes, there were over 500 different jeans to order.
Have Free Home Try-Ons Stood the Test of Time?
- Warby Parker still offers their free try-ons. They have also opened a number of brick and mortar stores, creating another conduit to their customers.
- True & Co. has ended their program. They now offer a full guarantee and return shipping, but no free try-ons.
- AYR appeared to end their program, but I now see it is back online. 3 different sizes of the same jean can be ordered to try for free.
- Tread Labs has ended our free home try-ons.
Why Tread Labs Chose to End Free Home Try-Ons
After much internal debate we ended our program in April of 2016. There were a number of reasons why we came to this decision:
- Record keeping was horrendous. Our accounting system did not have an easy way to track this kind of transaction. It wasn't really a sale, as the customer had not paid for the insoles. We did not however, have the inventory in stock to send to someone else. Tracking website conversions was also difficult as as "sale" of trials did not actually result in a sale of insoles every time. We were spending a lot of time tracking things.
- Shipping was expensive. Insoles are relatively light and ship fairly inexpensively via USPS. Still, the 2 way shipping started to add up as we paid all shipping whether the customer bought from us or not. It's hard for us to imagine how a company could do this with 3 pairs of jeans.
- Soiled returns were not uncommon. We understood that in order to try our insoles, they had to be worn for some time. Customers were encouraged to try them for up to 10 days. We did not realize the funk factor that we would have to deal with. Re-furbishing became an on-going task. Trying on eyeglass frames now seems easy in comparison. Bras? We're not sure...
- The psychology was questionable. We enjoyed projecting confidence in the product, but found that some customers were ordering not because they were seriously interested in the product, but just because the product was free. In a way we were degrading the value of the insoles.
Free Home Try-Ons End With a New Product Introduction
We chose to end the free home try-on program at the same time we introduced our new and improved Stride insoles. The new insoles are a step up from the Pace insoles that we offered for free home try-on. Both are currently available - Stride for $75 and Pace (the free home try-on model) for $50.
Tread Labs 30-Day Fit Guarantee
We continue to offer exceptional service to our on-line customers with a 30 day fit guarantee. This guarantee applies to both the older Pace insoles as well as the new Stride insoles. Purchase insoles (multiple pairs if you like) and try them for up to 30 days. If they do not meet your expectations for comfort and performance send them back for a full refund. The return shipping is on us.
Our insoles have received great reviews. People crow about Tread Labs insoles providing:
- Relief from plantar fasciitis
- Increased comfort on the job site
- Great support running a marathon
- Rejuvenation to older shoes and boots
Have you experienced free home try-ons? Was the Tread Labs program instrumental in your decision to try the product? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.