How to Accelerate eCommerce with Sampling

October 6, 2023

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, beauty brands are constantly seeking innovative ways to attract and retain consumers. One historically effective strategy that has gained significant traction online in recent years is digital sampling. Digital sampling is an effective tool for accelerating your ecommerce strategy - by strategically offering free product samples to existing and new consumers, brands can tap into a qualified audience, nurture indecisive shoppers and re-engage past consumers to drive incremental revenue. 

Nurturing Qualified, but Hesitant Shoppers

Sampling through e-commerce channels offers a unique advantage by connecting with a qualified audience, making it distinct from traditional marketing methods that target broader demographics. It enables brands to provide a tangible product experience to consumers who have already displayed some level of interest in their products or brand. Whether it's surprising and delighting a browsing consumer who hasn't made a purchase yet or offering free samples as part of a virtual try-on experience within your site or virtual store, this approach ensures that samples are delivered to individuals who have a genuine interest in your brand and products. 

Consequently, it plays a pivotal role in nurturing consumers in the consideration phase and guiding them towards making a purchase. In the world of online shopping, particularly in industries like beauty where tactile experiences hold great significance, many consumers hesitate to buy a product without trying it first. They may browse, engage with emails, add items to their cart, and frequently visit the website without making a purchase. E-commerce sampling presents an opportunity to address this hesitation by providing a risk-free trial experience. By offering free samples of products they have shown interest in, such as a product page they frequent or an item they abandoned in their cart, brands can provide a personalized experience tailored to their behavior and allow consumers to conveniently try the products and make informed decisions based on their needs and preferences. This not only enhances the likelihood of conversion but also builds trust between the brand and the consumer.

Re-engaging Past Customers

Sampling also serves as an effective strategy to re-engage past consumers who haven't made a purchase in a set amount of time but have a history of purchasing from the brand. By sending free samples to these consumers, brands can remind them of the positive experiences they had with the brand in the past and reignite their interest. This personalized touch can lead to renewed loyalty and potentially bring back valuable consumers.

A Cost-Effective Channel vs. Paid Media

Another reason why sampling through ecommerce is a strategic move is due to its cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional advertising methods that often require substantial investments in paid media, sampling can be implemented through loyalty channels or the brand's own website or virtual store. This significantly reduces marketing expenses while still achieving a targeted reach to potential consumers.

Important Considerations 

While sampling can be a powerful tool in an e-commerce brand's marketing arsenal, there are crucial considerations to ensure its effectiveness:

Timing: Sampling should not replace a potential sale. Therefore, it is essential not to offer samples to consumers who are at the final stages of the purchase journey, such as when they have added items to their cart but are still actively browsing the site. Instead, focus on reaching out to individuals who may need an extra push to make a decision.

Patience and Follow-up: It is unrealistic to expect immediate conversions from participants who receive free samples. Sampling is just one part of a larger strategy to drive consumers toward making a purchase. ​​Sampling campaigns are a way of generating leads for the brand and introducing the brand / product to prospective new consumers – similar to other actions consumers will take to learn / discover a brand if they have not yet purchased – e.g. following on social, subscribing to email, just browsing the website, or performing searches on Google. Sampling is first and foremost a method of brand / product discovery that can get consumers excited about the brand or the product. Brands should be patient and follow up with recipients to gather feedback, provide additional information, and gently encourage them to consider a full-size purchase in the future.


Sampling at e-commerce is a powerful marketing strategy that allows businesses to connect with a qualified audience, nurture hesitant shoppers, and re-engage past consumers. By offering free product samples, e-commerce brands can bridge the gap between potential consumers and the final purchase decision, all while keeping marketing costs low. However, it is crucial to approach sampling strategically, ensuring that it complements a broader marketing plan and is targeted at the right audience at the right time. When executed effectively, digital sampling can yield remarkable results and drive conversions in the fiercely competitive e-commerce landscape.



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