Free samples are coming to online shopping

Clicking on clown makeup on Walmart.com? Don’t be surprised if it shows up in the mail.


October 12, 2020

If your days of going haywire on the free sample section of Lush feel like a distant fever dream, we have some good news: The ecommerce world is going all in on samples.

This year, one sampling company, Brandshare, has taken its talents to online retailers like Walmart.com.

Brandshare’s algorithm learns what you like, and it ships recommended products to you — even when you don’t ask for them.

Buying a box of snacks from Walmart? A Brandshare-recommended granola bar might show up with it.

It’s actually pretty smart

Online ads for a granola bar that is “recommended for you” are easy to ignore. But if that granola bar shows up at your place? Who wouldn’t try a taste?

Brandshare works with 800+ partners and claims its samples have a 14% to 33% conversation rate.

Even Amazon has dabbled with free samples. Last year, it announced a free sample mailing program in partnership with Maybelline, Calvin Klein, and KIND.

But by the end of the year, the company had pulled the plug.

The problem? Mailed samples are kind of creepy

Amazon didn’t give a clear reason for nixing its free-sample program, but CNBC offered a clue.

Nothing says, “We know too much about you” like clicking on a batch of clown makeup in a sleepless haze, then finding a free sample on your doorstep 2 days later.

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