Black Cart: Could Try-Before-You-Buy Shopping Shape the Future of e-Commerce?

Imagine this: sighing dejectedly at your reflection when yet another outfit you bought online – the one that looked perfect on the the model – looks way less appealing on you? Despite the true-to-size size guides, videos and 3D product close-ups, getting a try-before-you-buy option is a massive confidence booster for a customer who was intending to purchase anyway.

Given that 57% of European shoppers still find e-Commerce uninspiring compared to offline, there’s still a race to bridge the gap between the tangible nature of offline shopping and the seamless convenience of digital experiences. Enter BlackCart, a Canadian fashion tech start up that raised funding rounds of $8.8 million entirely over Zoom.

What Is It

A try-before-you-buy platform that integrates with e-Commerce storefronts, BlackCart allows customers to ship items to their home for free and only pay if they choose to keep the item after the end of a “try on” period (set by the retailer).

What Is The Promise

In their own words,

“BlackCart was founded on the premise of making the experience of online shopping less painful for customers, while enabling merchants to deliver the same fitting-room experience to consumers everywhere.

As the first technology provider to bring try-before-you-buy to market, our expertise stems from the many experiments we’ve conducted to ensure a model that delivers results. By taking a methodological approach, we help merchants maximise conversions, create happier customers, and boost bottom-line sales.”

How It Works




Images: How It Works – BlackCart

In the form of a simple plug-in that works with most e-Commerce platforms, the lifecycle of every order is automated. With BlackCart having its own technology in terms of returns, payments, and overall user experience, it shoulders all the financial risk on each transaction associated with fraud, damaged, or unreturned items. This removes the need to take hold of the shopper’s credit card for authorisation.

Each customer’s account would be adjusted if the item was kept or returned. If no actions occur by the end of the trial, it is assumed that the items are kept and the customer will be automatically charged. BlackCart makes money via a rev share model meaning retailers gets charged a percentage of the sales where the customers have kept the products.

Things to Consider

“Retailers are catering to a new generation of non-committal millennials who have massive spending power in conjunction with massive uncertainty, and it’s a profound shift for nearly every consumer spending category.” – Danny Ouyang, CEO, BlackCart

With the pandemic driving up online sales and more customers sticking to this mode of shopping, it makes sense that Try-Before-You-Buy options would drive customers to make quicker purchasing decisions. Here are a few reasons as to why retailers would consider this as a viable way to complement their current e-Commerce strategy.

  • It decreases returns. Having this option deters the common practice of customers purchasing in bulk to try, and returning items that don’t live up to expectations.
  • Increases buyer confidence in high stakes purchases that have massive spending potential (bridal/occasion wear, shoes, mattresses, luxury items, etc.).
  • Removes the barrier-of-entry for newer brands as customers feel more encouraged to try out new products they won’t normally opt for.
  • Trust building. Trust is the essence of every good business. By taking on the risk and inviting test-drives, it shows that brands stand by the integrity of their product and its capability to provide value.

Other players in the try-before-you-buy industry include: Nok and TryNow.

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