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Ecommerce Forum

Charging for samples vs freebies

 8:35 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I give customers a sample for every $40 they spend, my choice, although if they ask for particular things, I do my best to accomodate that. Samples are free. They are usually a very small amount of a product I make in a less expensive package.

Sometimes I am asked if I will sell only samples to someone. I haven't done this in the past, because it seems like the same amount of work for a lot less money. Widgets do have pricy ingredients, but the labor of making and packaging them is more costly. One item I sell a lot of is sold in a similar form by a very large site. Their price is 17.50/5ml; mine is 13.50/7.5 ml, so mine is substantially less. They sell samples of many of their widgets for $4.00 for 1 ml, same size as I give for free with every $40 of purchase. Their shipping for this tiny size is steep (IMO) at $7.50, so I'm thinking they are making some money off that.

I'm not sure if it might not be detrimental to sell samples. Even though it might mean that people would try more, at $4 ea, they would get four sample widgets for the price of one widget now. I get people who order 4-5 widgets without batting an eye. These people might decide to order 4-5 samples instead, which would be a substantial decrease in order total.

The other thing is I know that there are people who do nothing but trade samples they have bought from my primary competitor. There are whole websites devoted to trading these samples and they are sold on ebay as well for more than was paid for them. That does spread the name of the original vendor around, though.

Personally, I tend to think that selling a sample size is a stupid idea. But maybe I am just being blind. I could use some feedback.



 8:46 pm on Dec 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good idea to charge for samples, people are poorer and poorer. cosmetics samples websites seem successful also.


 11:34 am on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Samples are meant for trial purposes. So I don't think your consumers will like it if you start charging for samples.

If you are worried about your earnings, then you need to convince your consumers in a way that they use the sample, and immediately make a purchase decision. Don't give them a lag time between trial and purchase. The quicker this process, the faster your sales figures will increase.


 12:50 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

why not continue to send free samples
but also offer a pack of samples for the regular price ... eg 4/6/8 different samples in a pack.


 1:42 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do you use the Free Samples as a marketing hook? If so, then don't change tactics.


 2:20 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

why not continue to send free samples
but also offer a pack of samples for the regular price ... eg 4/6/8 different samples in a pack.

I know a perfumier that does that. A single sample of another fragrance with every full price purchase or a selection of samples sold as a "scent library"


 2:47 pm on Dec 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Re marketing, I mention that I give samples on my main page for orders of $40 or more, and people who reorder know they can ask for samples and often ask for something specific. They usually try new things that way. I use samples to reward customers but also to get them to try things they might otherwise not. If they order blue or white widgets, I will give them a red widget to get them to try the different category. I've had customers comment happily about the samples they have gotten and then go on to order a full size of the sample or to try a different category (sometimes they don't even know I sell the other types of widgets). But I must admit that I have used samples more to encourage repeat buying than for attracting new customers. I think I will not offer just samples for sale but that I will offer "collections" of the red and blue widgets that are smaller than full size. I actually already offer collections of my green widgets that are normal size at a discount; lots of people buy these and it's a way for me to get the average order up. I have 10%-off collections also for the red or blue widgets, but since these items cost a lot more, people don't often buy them. So I will try doing smaller sizes in sets and see how that goes.

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