The “try before you buy” (TBYB) concept allows customers to test products before purchasing. It is becoming increasingly widespread in many industries. Its application can vary depending on the type of product or service, and the business in question.

Currently, the idea is mainly popular in online retail, for products like clothing, shoes, and accessories. It addresses common online shopping pain points like fit, style, or quality uncertainty. Try before you buy programs aim to reduce satisfaction barriers and increase customer loyalty.

Aside from retail, the model is also gaining traction in software and tech, automotive, digital entertainment, and cosmetics. The offer generally won’t apply to high-value, perishable, and digital products.

Key Takeaways

  • Try before you buy reduces online shopping uncertainty by letting customers test products at home before paying for them.
  • Customers are charged only for the items they decide to keep, fostering a risk-free purchasing environment.
  • The products that don’t meet the customer’s expectations are returned to the seller. Some retailers also offer their customers a prepaid return label.
  • Typically, the product trial period is 7 days, which varies depending on companies and their policies.
  • TBYB benefits both customers (cost efficiency, informed decisions, etc) and businesses (reduction in perceived risk, better brand awareness, etc).
  • Before using a TBYB model, it’s recommended to carefully check the trial duration and return policy of the products you’re interested in.

What Is Try before You Buy

Participating in TBYB programs typically works like this:

  1. Select items online and order them. You’ll have an option along the lines of “pay later.”
  2. The order is delivered to the designated address.
  3. A free try before you pay period starts, which often lasts for seven days from the day you receive your order.
  4. You’ll only be charged for the items you choose to keep. The others will be returned, providing a risk-free shopping experience. 
  5. However, note that depending on company policy, you might have to pay the cost of return shipping

Multiple stores offer try before you buy across the US, but Amazon is a clear crowd favorite. Prime members can access Amazon’s version of TBYB, where numerous retail brands make the program’s regular benefits available. 

In essence, TBYB merges the convenience of online shopping with the ability to evaluate products – akin to an in-store experience physically. This “best of both worlds” approach has made try before you buy products very popular, with the model seeing great success in eCommerce.

How Does Try before You Buy Shipping Work

Shipping for TBYB products is similar to a regular order where you’d pay for the products upfront. You add all items to the cart, you go through the checkout, you choose a delivery location, you get the items shipped to you. You just don’t pay for the products straightway.

  • Standard shipping: usually the most affordable option, but has the longest delivery time. Standard shipping generally takes around 5 business days, although there could be significant differences based on the source and the destination locations. For example, Warby Parker and Amazon offer FREE standard shipping for TBYB.
  • Express or expedited shipping: usually a premium service, where delivery is quicker but more expensive. Customers prefer express shipping when they want a product to arrive sooner than with standard delivery. Amazon is one of the biggest companies to offer expedited shipping for TBYB services such as Prime Wardrobe.
  • In-store or curbside pickup: some stores that offer try before you buy and have a physical location might let you pick up an order yourself. The process is as simple as ordering online and then going to the location after you get a confirmation email that your products are ready. Note that this option is also called “click and collect” sometimes. Best Buy is one company that offers this delivery option for TBYB.
  • Same-day or next-day delivery: some brands also ship TBYB products on the day you place your order or the next day if you’re past the cutoff time. The service might have a premium or regular price, depending on how the store handles it (in-house, via partners, etc). Same or next-day shipping is generally rarer. For example, Zappos offers next-business-day shipping for their VIP customers.
  • Pickup points or locker pickups: some bigger companies collaborate with local stores or even establish special lockers as pickup points. Customers can go to such locations and pick up their products at their convenience. Note that depending on the business and the pickup policy, the trial period might start when the items are ready for pickup or only after you pick them up. Zara is one retailer that offers this flexibility for try before you buy products.

Is Try before You Buy Shipping Free?

It depends on each store. Both original shipping and return shipping costs could be offered by the seller, it could be covered by the customer, or it might be another scenario. Some stores require customers to pay for the original shipping, but cover return shipping costs for TBYB.

Here’s a general rundown of TBYB shipping cost possibilities:

  • Free shipping for all trial products: some companies will fully commit to the concept and even ship TBYB orders for free to their customers.
  • Free shipping if purchased: some companies temporarily charge a customer’s bank account for shipping plus product cost. The charge is processed for shipping and relevant products if the customer keeps at least one of the products.
  • Free shipping with minimum purchase: while try before you buy products aren’t paid for unless you keep them, stores might only offer free shipping if the theoretical total amount spent is above a threshold. Stores might balance the offer with return shipment being paid by you.
  • Flat rate or variable rate shipping: regardless of purchase size, some businesses will still charge a flat rate. Others calculate shipping cost depending on the package’s size, weight, and destination.
  • Membership programs: for example, an Amazon Prime subscription can be used for free shipping for try before you buy items as well. Amazon also offers free returns to their Prime TBYB customers.
  • Specific payment method: sometimes, companies partner with specific payment providers and offer free shipping to customers who use these methods.
  • Codes & promotions: you might get free shipping for TBYB products as part of one of the seller’s ongoing campaigns. This is one reason why subscribing to their newsletter is a great idea. 
  • First time customers: free shipping could only be offered for the first “purchase,” even if the products aren’t kept in the end.
  • Return shipping: many bigger companies factor in the cost of return shipping into the TBYB model and offer free returns. This customer-friendly policy minimizes risk and encourages them to use the TBYB offer. A free returns policy could have more restrictive terms though. Small businesses might not offer free returns, as they’re more susceptible to higher costs than big brands.

How Does Try before You Buy Work for Returns?

If you decide that the products you’ve tried aren’t for you, you’ll need to initiate a return process per the company’s policy. This generally means you’ll have to:

  1. Pack the items in safe packaging. It might have to be the original one.
  2. Attach the provided return label if you got a prepaid return offer. The label should be in the shipping box, if there is one.
  3. Drop off the package to a designated location or schedule a pickup.

Different stores can have different return terms for TBYB items. Still, there are a few common ones worth keeping in mind, such as:

  1. Condition of the product: a returned product must typically be in the same condition as when you received it. For example, a dress will probably have to be “unworn” to be eligible for returns. This doesn’t mean you can’t try it on, as it would defeat the whole point of TBYB. “Unworn” means you haven’t worn it outside of trying it in your home. Items also typically need to have their tags intact. If your items are slightly damaged (maybe you purchased second hand clothes), you should ensure that no further damage is done.
  2. The return window: your trial period will vary depending on the seller. This is the only time frame when a return can be initiated and the amount reimbursed. You should be able to find a window of at least 7 days with many retailers, but some even go up to a month (like Warby Parker’s 30 days no-questions return or exchange policy).
  3. Packaging: don’t throw away the box in which the items come in! Some stores require you to use the original packaging for return shipping, or you won’t be eligible.
  4. Return method: the specific method of returning the product could be defined by the retailer (mail, in-store, drop-off points, etc).
  5. Exceptions: usually, businesses reserve the right to determine at their sole discretion whether a product is in an acceptable condition as per their policy. Maybe you’ve never worn your try before you buy shirt outside. But, walking around indoors while wearing it has caused sufficient wear & tear to disqualify it for returns. This will be up to the seller to decide.

7 Companies That Offer Try before You Buy

Quite a few big brands across the US offer popular try before you buy programs. Here are just a few that you might want to shop from (many of them also have special discounted offers you can take advantage of):



Quick note: Amazon’s TBYB service used to be called “Amazon Wardrobe”. Don’t be confused if you see mentions of that across the web.

If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you can also access Amazon Prime Try Before You Buy (along with Prime benefits for shipping, streaming, shopping, reading and others). Prime TBYB lets you choose from a wide selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories and try them at home before you buy.

Amazon’s program works as follows:

  1. Select your desired items from categories such as jewelry, accessories, shoes and clothes for women, men, kids, and toddlers. 
  2. You can opt for “try before you buy” for up to 6 items and enjoy a 7-day trial. What you keep is what you get charged for.
  3. Don’t like one of the products (or all of them)? Prime Try Before You Buy returns are always free (within the 7 days limit). You also get to choose the shipping option that you prefer. 
  4. Don’t return other wardrobe items from Amazon this way. Others have already tried, and the company doesn’t allow it. This is only for TBYB products.

How Does Amazon Try before You Buy Work?

Anyone with an eligible Prime membership also gets this service at no extra cost. The only thing to be aware of is a $1 “test” charge when you place the TBYB order. Nothing’s actually charged and the amount will soon disappear from your account. This temporary authorization is how Amazon verifies your card. 

It’s also worth noting that despite this being a Prime offer, shipping may take 4 to 6 business days. Before shopping for TBYB items, check out our Amazon Discount Finder .

Warby Parker

Give Warby Parker a shot if you’re looking for eyeglasses or sunglasses. Their try before you buy offer lets you choose five frames from a unique “Try-On” collection. The service is available for both men and women glasses design.

The collection comprises bestselling frames, so you’ll find at least one you’re happy with. You can also try the frames for five days, which will come with non-prescription lenses. After five days, you’ll need to send the frames back. Don’t worry; you’ll have a prepaid label.

The frames must be returned since they don’t have the correct lenses. Once you’ve decided which frame suits you best, just order it again (with your prescription this time, if applicable). You can also get their glasses cheaper using a Warby Parker coupon.

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix offers completely bespoke clothing. It’s a subscription service that lets its users create a completely personalized style and shopping experience. This even includes top-tier clothing pieces for maternity, plus and petite sizes.

Start with the style quiz. After that, you pay a one-time $20 fee for the personal stylist assigned to you. Don’t worry, as the $20 is credited towards the products you’ll buy! 

The pieces chosen by your stylist are delivered to you, and you’re free to try them at your own leisure. Don’t like something? Send it back with the included prepaid return envelope. Original shipping and even exchanges are FREE too! Stitch Fix also offers 25% off your entire order if you keep all products. This offer typically cannot be stacked with other Stich Fix deals, but the policy can also be subject to seasonal offers or promotions.


Need a risk-free way of buying a new car? While Carvana doesn’t offer traditional try before you buy for their used cars, there’s a 7-day test period. If you love your new ride, great! If not, you can return it – no questions asked.

There’s also a 100-day / 4,189 miles “worry-free” limited warranty. If there are any mechanical or electrical failures during this time, you’ll be covered by Carvana’s policy. The comprehensive coverage is extended to:

  • The engine
  • Suspensions
  • Transmission
  • A/C & Heating
  • Steering
  • Roadside assistance

Carvana’s catalog includes 25,000 used cars without fire, flood, or frame damage. You can even reserve a car for 30 minutes while finishing the checkout process.


Few things beat a great night’s sleep. The perfect mattress can be a game-changer for your nightly rest, and Casper offers a 100-night trial for their matters. The only catch is that returns can be initiated after a 30-day adjustment period.


Make sure you don’t damage the mattress during your first 30 days. If you return it afterward, it must be in the original condition and packaging! Otherwise, it becomes ineligible.

Return terms differ if your purchase isn’t part of the Casper brand or if you purchase Casper products from other retailers.

  • Non-Casper branded items can only be returned unopened within 30 days.
  • Third-party retailers of Casper mattresses will have various return policies which you should inspect.

Save money when shopping using Casper discount codes.


While this shoe store doesn’t have a free try before you buy program, their return policy is very customer-friendly. Rothy’s products might interest you if you want footwear that does not stretch and has no break-in period.

According to their website, Rothy’s shoes wrap around the contour of your foot without feeling tight. You can also throw them in the washing machine! Returns work like this:

  • You’ll need your order number or confirmation email, and having the original packaging on hand will be helpful too.
  • You can refund or exchange your item within 30 days of receiving it.
  • Items can only be returned if they still have all tags, haven’t been washed, worn or altered. “Worn” means you didn’t walk in your new shoes outside. Wearing them for 2 hours at home to see if you like them should leave them eligible for a return.
  • Return shipping is not free!
  • Items marked as “final sale” cannot be returned!

Buy a new pair of shoes cheaper and possibly get FREE shipping using a Rothy’s coupon. If you’re a student, teacher, first responder, medical professional or military personnel, check out the brand’s 20% discount program too.


Commit to your dream fitness gear risk-free. Peloton’s bikes, treads and rowing machines have a 30-day home trial! While this isn’t precisely try before you buy (you’ll have to pay for the products), Peloton delivers & installs your equipment, plus offers a full refund within 30 days.

If cost is a concern, take advantage of Peloton deals & savings.

The company also lets customers pay by financing if they qualify for it. In the case of a return, the first installment will be repaid in full. Depending on where you live, Peloton could also refund your shipping fee (not all areas are eligible for this). 


The 30-day home trial only applies to first-time purchasers!

Advantages of Try before You Buy Products

For Customers

  • Risk reduction: seeing if a product meets your needs and expectations without committing to purchasing.
  • Cost efficiency: some retailers offer free shipping, free returns, or both, as part of their try before you buy offer.
  • Informed decisions: hands-on trials create informed purchasing decisions, leading to higher satisfaction rates.
  • Better overall experiences: if the customer doesn’t like the product, they’re not “locked out” of their money until it gets returned and processed.
  • Don’t have to wait for payday: many TBYB deals have a 7-day trial, so customers can order and try products before getting their weekly or monthly check.

For Businesses

  • Increased conversion rates: try before you buy boosts confidence in your business, thus leading to more orders and happier customers that buy from you.
  • Better customer acquisition: TBYB can attract new customers who are hesitant to make online purchases without experiencing the product first.
  • Reduction in perceived risk: lessen the perceived risk of online shopping, fostering customer loyalty and retention.
  • Gather valuable data: collect insights on consumer preferences and behaviors based on the items tried and bought. Update your product catalog and personalize offers accordingly.
  • Brand awareness: TBYB offers are a surefire way to get customers talking about your business and spreading positive opinions via word-of-mouth.

Try before You Buy Best Practices

Customers should look for retailers that provide clear trial period terms and ensure an easy return process.

  • Trial duration: while the typical duration of TBYB is 7 days, this can differ. As we pointed above, Casper have a 100 days trial for their mattresses. Trial durations should be highly transparent, accessible, and communicated clearly.
  • The return policy: some businesses offer a prepaid shipping label, while others do not. Generally speaking, it’s better for both sides if free returns are available, even if the original shipping is paid. This allows customers more freedom in trying out products while businesses enjoy a wider pool of prospecting buyers.

Try before You Buy FAQs

How Does Try before You Buy Work?

TBYB works in 5 simple steps:

  1. When you’re finishing up your online order, choose the payment option that lets you to “pay later,” or something similar.
  2. Your order is shipped to you.
  3. After delivery, you generally have a trial of 7 days. The duration differs based on the seller’s policy.
  4. Choose which items to keep and return the others. You’ll only be charged for the items you keep.
  5. Note that you might have to pay for the original shipping, return shipping, both, or shipping could be completely free.

How Do You Return Try before You Buy Items?

It’s as simple as sending back the product while you’re within the trial timeframe specified by the retailer. A few things to keep in mind are:

  • The product has to be in the condition you received it in.
  • Some stores require you use the original packaging for return shipping.
  • The store might have a required return method, or some return methods might be more expensive.

What Is Try before You Buy on Amazon?

Amazon Prime Try Before You Buy is pretty much what it says on the box. Previously called “Amazon Wardrobe,” the service is included for all Prime members. Prime TBYB lets users try a wide selection of shoes, clothes, and accessories without committing to a purchase outright. 

Prime subscribers can try up to 6 items simultaneously for a 7-day trial. Returns are always free!

How Does Amazon Try before You Buy Work?

Anyone with a Prime membership already has access to Amazon TBYB. It’s as simple at filling out your cart with up to 6 items and then proceeding through checkout. For payment, select “try before you buy.”

You’ll still get a $1 “test charge” on your bank card so that Amazon ensures it’s real and can be charged if you keep the products. After the card is validated, the $1 temporary authorization charge will disappear from your bank account.

What Are Some Stores That Offer Try before You Buy?

Aside from Amazon, numerous other big brands from the US have a TBYB offer. For example:

  1. Warby Parker: eyeglasses and sunglasses.
  2. Stitch Fix: bespoke clothing (with a personal stylist).
  3. Carvana: used cars with a 7-day test period.
  4. Casper: mattresses and other related products.
  5. Rothy’s: high quality shoes.
  6. Peloton: fitness gear like bikes and treadmills.

What Are Some Examples of Try Before You Buy Products?

The prominent popularity of TBYB is in online retail, which includes clothing, shoes, and accessories. However, there’s traction for the TBYB model in other industries too, such as:

  • Software and technology: Adobe offers a 7-day free trial for their products’ full (paid) versions.
  • Automotive: Carvana, while requiring customers to pay for their vehicle upfront, offers a 7-day test period during which the car can be returned.
  • Digital entertainment: Audible has a 30-day free trial, which can be accessed as part of an Amazon Prime membership. Prime customers can cancel the trial at any point.
  • Cosmetics: Sephora’s sampling initiative lets customers pick free samples at select stores without purchasing. Online orders also include 2 free product samples, which customers can select.