Credit: Olivia JamesWarby Parker is a strange name for an eyewear company. Inspired by character names of legendary author Jack Kerouac the company sets out to provide customers with stylish glasses to carry you through life’s journey. Four friends in business school wanting to provide quality, classic framed, glasses and sunglasses at an affordable price conceived the idea that is now their company. The name isn’t the only thing that is unique about Warby Parker.
Most prescription glasses cost over $300. Warby Parker has found a way to provide glasses to customers for $95 and $125 for ultra thin high index lenses for stronger prescriptions. They are able to do this by taking out the middle companies that design, manufacture and sell glasses and doing it all themselves. While they have nine showrooms that feature and retail their glasses, most of their business is conducted online.
Most people are only able to experience Warby Parker online which can be a pro and a con. The pro’s are that the virtual try-on and home try-on options are convenient. To use the virtual try-on feature, you take a picture of yourself or use one that you already have on your computer. The website then sizes up the glasses to fit your face so you can get a good idea of how they will look in real life. You can also save those pictures onto your computer so you can line them all up to help decide which pair you like best or email them to a friend for another opinion. Another convenience is if you already have your prescription no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been to the eye doctor, you can still order them.
If you prefer to physically try them on they offer a home try on that allows you to pick five pairs and they will send them to you in 2-3 days. You have days to decide until you have to send them back using the prepaid return label that is provided. After that, just place your order online and your new glasses will arrive within 10 business days.
The downside to these options is that if you would prefer to try on the glasses, home try-on isn’t as convenient as going to a store. You have to allow for the extra time of them being sent to you and although it’s an attempt at making it easy for you, it is still kind of a hassle. Also, you can only try five at a time so if you are interested in more than that then you will have to send for five more.
The other unique thing that Warby Parker does is that "For every pair of glasses you purchase, a pair is donated to someone in need." There are several well known companies that do this such as TOMS Shoes and the one for one idea has become wildly popular. They go a little farther then just giving glasses. Instead of only giving the glasses to those in need, they provide funding and/or glasses to non-profit organizations that then provide glasses and training to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them start their own business. The benefit of this is that it not only provides affordable glasses but also a business and a livelihood for people in those countries to serve their communities.
All in all the guys of Warby Parker have developed a neat company that attempts to bring quality at an affordable price while also helping others in need. But is their attempt at convenience also crippling? It’s left up to the consumer to decide whether or not this predominately online company is worth their time.