After celebrating its first birthday exactly a month ago, Ayr, an online-native retailer specializing in basics and denim, is adding a new marketing tactic to its arsenal: home denim try-ons, which cost only $1 per pair at checkout and give shoppers up to a week to test out the jeans before deciding whether they want to return them or keep them and pay the full $175.
If you've ever paused before putting a very large sum of money on your credit card while online shopping, you'll probably agree that Ayr's concept is quite customer-friendly. And as Ayr Brand Director Maggie Winter readily points out, it's not a new one at all in the startup world. Long before Warby Parker had opened any brick-and-mortar locations, it won shoppers over with a home trial program that let them test out five different frames for five days, all for free. (Warby was, in fact, the first outside team Winter consulted with before launching Ayr's try-on service.) Especially with relatively expensive items like premium denim or eyeglasses — both of which are fickle when it comes to fit — buying online can be daunting. Programs like this lower the mental barrier to entry.
Since Ayr, an offshoot of the men's clothing startup Bonobos, is still establishing its name, try-ons could also prove to be an effective customer acquisition tool. The team quietly launched the program four weeks ago, emailing its customer database about it and putting a notice on social media. Winter says that thus far, 75 percent of shoppers who did wind up making a purchase after testing the jeans out at home are new to Ayr, and though she wouldn't specify how many converted in total, we do know that the brand has shipped over 450 pairs of jeans via home try-on. For the month of February, Ayr saw a 10 percent lift in its denim business.
So there's some evidence to suggest that home try-ons do particularly well with those who haven't bought from the brand before. While it might seem that this sort of program would most appeal to younger customers who can't necessarily afford to put a lot of money on their credit cards up front, Winter says that it's equally been working with older customers, who might feel uncomfortable shopping for jeans online.
At the moment, Ayr's try-on option is only available for its bestselling skinny jean style and the team is planning to focus on denim for the time being. Winter says it could make sense to roll out the program to outerwear, also a relatively expensive category that sells twice as well when people try it on in person at Ayr's Chelsea showroom. (The store accounts for about 20 percent of the brand's overall sales at this point.)
Seems like a good idea to us. If it worked for Warby Parker, maybe it's the ticket to boosting sales of women's jeans online, too.