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    The ‘art’ of the optical deal

    Why a picture may be worth a thousand words, and a new customer

     

    Warby Parker (WP)

    The second optical shop my wife and I visited was Warby Parker (WP), in close proximity to Art and Eyes. For those who are not familiar, WP is the current darling of the online eyewear space and has achieved market dominance. Within the past couple of years, however, WP has begun to open retail stores in high-end neighborhoods across the United States.

    WP’s reasoning appears to be threefold: to provide customers with a multi-channel purchasing solution, to extend its market share beyond online shoppers, and to overcome some of the limitations inherent in online shopping.

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    One of the primary characteristics of its business model is that all of the frames are private label; WP does not carry any branded products. When you purchase eyeglasses at a WP store or online, you get a WP frame.

    Another characteristic of the WP business model is that single-vision eyeglasses sell for $95 a pair; lenses and frame. This is about 40% of the national average, which makes WP attractive to millennials and shoppers on a tight budget.

    While trying on frames at WP, I took a few selfies with my mobile phone—a common thing for dispensary customers to do. They were predictably poor quality, both the image and the lighting. I began to become frustrated. When engaged by a salesperson, I explained the problem.

    The salesperson quickly offered to have someone take pictures while I tried on some of the frames. I did not expect much, perhaps someone with an iPad shooting pictures on the sales floor. I was mistaken.

    Editorial: If you’re so smart, why aren’t you happy?

    Instead, I was escorted to a room equipped with a professional photographic backdrop, a studio lighting system. The photographer used a high-end Canon camera that was Wi-Fi enabled. My photos were immediately transferred to a professional photo-editing program. Four photos were taken in all. I was able to study them individually and side by side.

    In my case, a picture was worth a thousand words. The quality of the photos was impressive—portrait-studio quality. Both the frames and I looked dramatically better. I was so pleased with how I looked and the service I received that I purchased one of the frames. This is something I had not planned to do; after all, I was just browsing.

    The takeaway

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