Warby Parker Observations

Warby Parker was founded in 2010 by a quartet of people who studied at the Wharton School of Business together, and within 2 years was able to raise over $50,000,000 in investment funding. Their initial thrust was on-line eyewear sales, with a “hip” feel and viral marketing. They quickly achieved over a billion-dollar market valuation.

The founders have said that their initial vision was all about price. But their success has been all about savvy hi-tech marketing. Keeping in touch with customers through Twitter and Facebook is one of their hallmarks. Customer service is another touch point, enabling prospective customers the opportunity to order and return up to five frames before deciding to order.

What are some of the lessons we can learn from Warby Parker?

1. He who tells the best story wins. Warby Parker has done a great job of getting their story out there, and making their brand “cool”. How do you get your story out there? You will need to be smart and efficient as you promote your own brand, since you probably don’t have a $50,000,000 war chest behind you.

2. Differentiate your product line. Warby Parker has their own brand for frames, lenses, and lens treatments. Yet Warby Parker has not manufactured their own frames, lenses or lens treatments. Is it possible for you to have your own brands as well?

3. Warby Parker is now expanding their brick and mortar locations, and building their own lab. With most industry figures indicating on-line eyeglass sales at about 3 – 5% of the market, maybe Warby Parker now realizes that a truly significant market share can’t be achieved with online sales only. So now they are coming to your wheelhouse. How can YOU get better at your brick and mortar location?

Bottom line:
1. You need to market effectively and use your online resources, including website, Facebook, etc.

2. You need to differentiate your product line from your nearby competitors.

3. You need to offer an attractive and functional retail space for your customers.

4. And yes, you need to be able to promote your value equation, even if you are not the cheapest place on the market. Guess what? Warby Parker isn’t either. A pair of glasses with poly progressive lenses and A/R can run over $500 from them too.