Try This On For Size

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Try This On For Size

By Christian Chensvold, Apparel Contributing Writer - 09/08/2016
When you're in a changing room, if you're lucky there's a clerk nearby who'll grab another size for you if an item doesn't fit — while you stand waiting in your underwear, of course.

But when you buy something over the Internet, it's just you alone in your underwear after you've opened the package. If the item doesn't fit, the e-tailer may have been kind enough to include a return shipping label, but you've already been charged for the item and might have to wait a while to get your refund.

For some consumers — especially those coveted Millennial ones — this is an inconvenience bordering on injustice. From their point of view, why are they being debited before they've verified that an item fits, or that they even like it?

These are the questions men’s wear e-commerce company Jack Threads knocked around in a brainstorming meeting at the beginning of the year. The company was tired of offering endless discounts in the vain attempt to lure consumers. "Using promos and discounts like everybody else is just white noise," says chief marketing officer Ryan McIntyre, "and the consumer doesn't care."

Instead the Jack Threads team found themselves asking what was wrong with the online shopping experience and how could they make it better. The main issue, they realized, was getting charged for something before you've had the chance to see if you like the way it feels and fits. "When you think about it," says McIntyre, "it's just a model that we've gotten used to because it's always been that way."

Within a few months the company began beta testing for a new program called "try-outs," which it unveiled to about a quarter of its customers. Early results were very promising, and a month later Jack Threads went public with the new program on its website and mobile app. "This is the most consumer-friendly ecommerce model out there," boasts McIntyre.

Other companies currently offering something similar include Cocodune for women, as well as try.com.

Try-outs is quite simple. No, you don't get to wear the clothes for a week and see if you get a lot of compliments. Jack Threads just simply puts off the billing process until you've had the chance to make sure you really like an item. Although it takes a credit card to place an order and have it shipped, the card isn't charged until the end of a seven-day period. If, by day six, the customer hasn't interacted with the company via the website or app, Jack Threads sends a friendly reminder. Once the customer verifies which items will be kept and which will be returned, his credit card is charged.

The new program resulted in an immediate 78 percent growth in "add to cart" actions, the first step in securing a sale. There was also 50 percent growth in the average number of items a customer put in his cart. The service has relieved pressure on Jack Threads to play an aggressive price game, says McIntyre, as well as relieving pressure on product itself, "since there's just too much fragmentation in the marketplace."

With 65 percent of customers using debit cards, the uptick in fraudulent transactions has been on or even slightly below what Jack Threads had anticipated and budgeted for, McIntyre adds. 

The term "try-out" rather than the more direct "try on" was chosen for branding reasons, McIntyre says, and also sounds more masculine and appealing to a male consumer. "It's like our clothing is auditioning for your closet," he says. The most interesting result of the program is what consumers are actually using it for. "Ninety percent of guys are using the try-out service to push themselves out of their comfort zone with new colors and brands," says McIntyre. "It's become an interesting emotional hook that we plan to incorporate into the messaging."

But expect that messaging to constantly change and adapt with shopping trends and society in general. What does McIntyre think Jack Threads will be doing 10 years from now? "Wow," he speculates. "People will probably be trying stuff on in virtual reality.

"We're shucking and jiving with the world around us," he continues. "A few years ago mobile commerce didn't exist, and now it’s 60 percent of our business. We identify opportunities early and run at them hard. With try-outs as a foundation, there are many directions we can go from here."