July 20, 2012

Try Before You Buy: The Future of Online Shopping?

One of the biggest hurdles of buying stuff online is the inability to try products out first hand before knowing whether you want to purchase it or not. But increasingly, companies are getting around that by offering a try-before-you-buy option for online goods, something Warby Parker has done successfully with glasses. YBuy, a Southern California company, has built a monthly subscription service around the try-before-you-buy model for gadgets, appliances and other products and it’s getting a big name backer in Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures is leading a $1 million Series A round investment that also includes funding from David Hanna, Chairman and CEO of CompuCredit, and Jim Patterson, Chief Product Officer at Yammer. The money will help YBuy scale up to handle a waiting list of 50,000 people, who have signed up for the service. YBuy exited public beta in January but it has been limited to a smaller group of users so far.

YBuy users pay $24.95 to try out a curated list of products, things like the iPad 3, the Xbox 360, the Jawbone Jambox or Limewit's Sony and Dell Laptop batteries. Users have up to 30 days to try out the product. If they decide to buy it, the $24.95 gets applied to the purchase price. If they don’t, they just send it back and try out something new. Shipping is free both ways. The service curates a list of products based on the tastes of a user. In addition to gadgets, it also offers appliances, such as coffee makers and blenders, and sporting goods, such as golf drivers.

The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company was started by Stephen Svajian, Kevin and Tim Wallin in 2009 and previously raised $750,000 from its founders and other angels.

Here's how Ybuy works:

1. Join the club

  • Select products from a curated list
  • Get a personal customer assistant

2. Try products

  • Pay nothing until you choose your first product
  • Skip a month at any time

3. Buy or return

  • Return your product by the last day of the month
  • Or, just keep the product and trial fees go toward the purchase

Is this the future of online shopping?

By Ryan Kim
Photo courtesy of Ybuy.com
Curated by Limewit Blog

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