Shopping online is always a fun way to pass the time, but when your order arrives and it doesn’t fit right or isn’t how you pictured it, going through the return process can be a headache. Lots of online retailers are consistently updating their returns protocols to be as easy as possible, but it doesn’t change the fact that your money has already been spent and you aren’t happy.
Luckily, there are brands that now offer a ‘try before you buy’ option, that gives you access to samples before buying full sizes, or shipping the items to you for $0 and giving you a trial period before charging you for the item. Here are a few you should check out.
1. Amazon Prime Samples and Prime Wardrobe
Exclusively for Prime members, Prime Samples lets you try samples of food, baby items, beauty products, personal items, and household supplies. You can pick individual samples from their large selection, or you can select a box of pre-chosen samples in a specific product category. And when you buy samples, all are $2–$4 each, you get a credit of equivalent value to redeem on a future purchase of the full-size product if you decide to buy it.
Prime Wardrobe offers a similar concept but with clothing, shoes, and accessories. Fill your box, try them for seven days, and you can either keep them and get charged for only the items you wish to keep, or return them all for free in the box and with the return label provided. (See also: 7 Amazon Prime Perks You’ve Forgotten to Use)
2. Warby Parker
Choosing the right eyeglasses is a process that takes time. When the founders of Warby Parker were tackling the challenge of an online store for glasses, they decided to try the sampling idea for customers, and it stuck. You can select five frames to test for five days and they’ll ship them to you — for free! Send back the ones you don’t want and only pay for the glasses that you wish to keep.
ThirdLove has been making quite a splash with women. Because their bras are on the expensive side (about $68 each), the try-before-you-buy idea has helped them expand their customer base. Order your bra with the help of their online guide in finding your exact size (they have half sizes, too!), receive it in the mail, and then “wear it, wash it, live in it” for 30 days. If you love it, it’s yours for $68. Don’t love it? Return it for free, and they will donate it to their charity, Bras for All.
Mattress purchases are challenging, and doubly so if you’re buying them online. So Casper makes it easy for you to give it a go. Buy your mattress, have it shipped right to your door, and then sleep on it for 100 days. Don’t like it? No problem. They’ll come pick it up with no additional cost to you, and they’ll give you a full refund. (See also: How to Buy a Mattress in 10 Minutes or Less)
Making a purchase online or in-store with Sephora? Make sure you take advantage of their generous free sample program to try some new products. When you place an order online, you can add three samples free of charge. In-store, you can ask for a sample of just about anything and they will accommodate you whether you’re buying something or not.
I have a Sephora in my neighborhood and every time I’ve visited, they are more than willing to whip up a sample of anything that interests me. And whenever I do make an in-store purchase, they always toss some samples into my bag as a little surprise. (See also: 15 Smartest Ways to Save at Sephora)