Try-before-you-buy cosmetics online: a threat to beauty boxes?

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Try-before-you-buy cosmetics online: a threat to beauty boxes?

Related tags Online shopping Retailing

A new ‘try-before-you-buy’ retail model for cosmetics has been launched by online US beauty company Trymbl, in a move which may give popular beauty box services a run for their money.

Distinct from models like Birchbox or Glossybox, the new e-retail platform does not involve a subscription element; however, it is an invite-only service, with members selected on their likeliness to follow sampling with purchases.

In the new model, the consumer orders free trials (either sample- or full-sized) from Trymbl’s site, which are shipped on request, and can go on to purchase the product.

The brand claims it is currently the only e-commerce beauty retailer currently up to this trick, which it has been running in beta since June 2013, saying its members now number in the ‘tens of thousands’.

Breaking away from boxes

The new model aims to shake up the e-commerce climate for the beauty industry, according to Trymbl co-founder, Mona Bajwa.

Speaking to Cosmetics Design, Bajwa expressed the intention for Trymbl’s model to supersede currently popular beauty box subscription sites as the major mode of online cosmetics sales.

We believe our model is one-giant leap forward from the subscription model as we offer our products for trial risk-free and we permit our customers to choose what they want to try, something that is lacking in most subscription models​,” she said.

A key novelty of Trymbl’s service, according to the company, lies in its capacity to offer consumers full-sized products alongside trial sizes.

The beauty retailer stated it is not looking to ‘compete’ with beauty boxes, considering itself to be a distinct service. Nevertheless, if successful, it will rely on the same consumer base.  

Online meets in-store

Bajwa believes that the slow uptake of internet retail avenues by the beauty industry comes down to consumer demand for sampling before purchase, which was previously not cost-efficient for online retail of cosmetics.

 “The reason more sales haven’t gravitated to the Internet is customers like the sensory experience of in-store shopping. They want to be able to smell, touch, try new products of their choice before purchasing them​,” she told USA.

Beauty has been so far reluctant to abandon the in-store experience in favour of online shopping platforms, but Trymbl’s new platform seeks to meld the two.

Our goal is to provide customers with the most convenient and hassle-free way of discovering and shopping online for products they can trust​,” Bajwa concluded. 

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