Will online sampling engage customers and drive trial at Sam’s Club?

Discussion
Source: samsclub.com
Apr 10, 2017
Tom Ryan

Sam’s Club earlier this month introduced the “Taste & Tips Sampler Bag” as an incentive for online shoppers.

The collection of samples, carrying a retail value of $14.53, is free with any SamsClub.com purchase through April 30, while supplies last. It also comes with free shipping.

The package includes:

  • Pretzel Crisps Original (1 bag)
  • Perrier Sparkling Water (1 bottle)
  • Carnation Breakfast Essentials Chocolate Nutritional Drink (1 package)
  • Goodnessknows Snack Squares (1 package)
  • Santa Barbara Coconut Almond Bar (1 bar)
  • Honest Kids Juice (1 juice box)
  • Road Crew Crunch Snack Mix (1 bag)
  • Easter motif bag (1 bag)

Sam’s Club wrote on its website, “It’s like getting your own personal Easter basket filled with delicious snacks. Just order any item on SamsClub.com, add the Taste & Tips Sampler Bag to your cart, and you’ll receive this spring tote filled with tasty treats like Perrier, pretzel crisps, snack squares and more. Enjoy your free goodies…on us!”

Shoppers may substitute samples, depending on availability.

Tara Raddohl, senior director, corporate communications, ‎Sam’s Club, told Progressive Grocer, “We’re looking forward to hearing feedback from our members on this exciting new program and will confirm its continuation based on that response.”

Retailers have mainly used free or discounted shipping as well as bundling to encourage online purchases, but others have tested the use of free samples. Both Walmart and Target used to offer free samples, but now sell $5.00 subscription boxes full of samples in the beauty and baby categories.

CPG brands such as Procter & Gamble use free samples to gain feedback as well as to encourage trial. Digital sampling, often tapping social media, promises to be more targeted than in-store sampling.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the advantages and shortcomings of online sampling versus in-store sampling? Do you see online sampling’s best use as a purchase incentive, a feedback tool or to encourage trial?

Braintrust
"By utilizing online as the connective tissue to engage customers, Sam’s Club is in a strong position to set themselves up for success."
"Online sampling could prove to have a much wider reach and improve awareness of a product."
"The in-store version of sampling is much more about instant gratification than the online variant..."

Join the Discussion!

8 Comments on "Will online sampling engage customers and drive trial at Sam’s Club?"

Notify of

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ben Zifkin
BrainTrust
3 months 12 days ago

Few areas of customer outreach yield the ROI of sampling. One of the hard parts, however, has been closing the loop on the purchase. By utilizing online as the connective tissue to engage customers, gather reviews/feedback and then follow through on the purchase, Sam’s Club is in a strong position to set themselves up for success.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

The advantage of in-store sampling is the ability to immediately influence the purchase decision. Tried it, liked it, bought it.

Sam’s online sampling provides larger sample sizes and exposes the sample to all the people in the household. It gets into the home and provides a longer time frame for the sample to be tried. Potentially by more than just the shopper.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

While in-store sampling has a more immediate effect, online sampling can still be a good thing and it also serves as an incentive to buy from Sam’s Club. I order my makeup from Nordstrom instead of any of a dozen or so stores because they give me free samples that I get to pick.

It will be interesting to see how this works for Sam’s but my 2 cents says they are on to a good thing.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

The data will bear out for Sam’s on whether or not this is successful but, generally, samples are a good way to let customers try new products that may hook them into buying during their next purchase. The in-store version of sampling is much more about instant gratification than the online variant, but this will be an interesting test for Sam’s to see what they learn.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

CPG companies and retailers love in-store sampling because you get immediate conversion and uplift is easily and directly linked to the activity. Online sampling can serve the same purpose but the linkage will not be as direct or clear and thus harder to justify for future investment.

This is a good step for Sam’s Club to test the waters in cooperation with CPG companies and learn more about how to create synergies between online and physical retailing.

Marko Kovac
Guest
3 months 12 days ago

While online sampling achieves the goal of getting new products into shoppers hands, it cannot achieve what I think is the more valuable aspect of in-store demos: communicating a brand’s culture and inspiring shoppers to want to become part of the brand’s community. Therefore, online sampling may effectively convince people who usually buy trail mix (for example) to select a certain brand next time they’re at the store — but it is far less likely to inspire people who don’t usually eat trail mix to jump in and make trail mix part of their new routine. That takes the pull of connection and brand culture.

Min-Jee Hwang
BrainTrust

One of the greatest things that Costco does in-store is provide a wide variety of free samples for customers. Extending the sampling to online shoppers is a great way improve customer relations and become known for starting online sampling. It may not prove to be as successful as in-store sampling because there isn’t someone to answer questions or encourage purchase. Online sampling could prove to have a much wider reach and improve awareness of a product.

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

Opening up sampling to more people seems like a good move, but in order for it to pay off, customers have to then purchase the products they like — easily done in-store, but the trick will be to get those who have received samples in the post to follow through. People are always keen to try new things and experiences, so online sampling is certainly a way of reaching more people, in a convenient fashion. If the sampling experience is favourable then customers will be more likely to remember the store/brands when they are next shopping.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"By utilizing online as the connective tissue to engage customers, Sam’s Club is in a strong position to set themselves up for success."
"Online sampling could prove to have a much wider reach and improve awareness of a product."
"The in-store version of sampling is much more about instant gratification than the online variant..."

Take Our Instant Poll

Which of the following is the best use of online sampling?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...