Warby Parker: A Winning E-commerce Strategy Online and Off

MSLK works with our clients to build great experiences with every touch-point of their brand, from identity design to websites, packaging, and promotions online and offline. Over the years we’ve found that the best promotions and websites are really only possible when there is a truly unique offering. The only limit is with the brands themselves. When we see a brand that has everything right, it’s exciting.

I came across such a brand during a search for eyeglasses. After numerous visits to online stores and brick & mortars, I found the whole process to be draining: too many choices, and a nagging sense that things were more expensive than they should be. Then I remembered an article I had read some time ago about a start-up making vintage-inspired frames with prescription lenses for only $95.00. I began my Google search using the keywords “New York Times vintage eye-wear website” which lead me right to the article.

Now, I’m the proud owner of a wonderful pair of stylish, vintage-inspired frames from Warby Parker. I only paid $95.00, and found the whole experience to be, well… fun, which is a far cry from my previous experiences. Here’s why:


Great website
The site is an exercise in simplicity. Focused content, clear layout, pitch-perfect photography, clever writing, and just the right amount of technology. By technology, I’m referring to an cool tool which allows you to use your webcam to snap a picture of your face, and then map several designs onto your face. I was very skeptical of this, yet it worked seamlessly and was actually quite helpful.

The website did a really great job of establishing that the company had a clear aesthetic from their products to their demographic. I knew right away upon my arrival that I wanted to stay here. We tell our clients all the time that your website is your virtual storefront to the world, and it’s great to see a company truly grasping the concept, creating an experience about you, not them.


Innovative Concept

Warby Parker has two main methods of connecting you to the perfect frame. The first is the “Virtual Try-On” described above, and the other is a “Try It Before You Buy It” program where you can test out up to five pairs at home. Again, they made the process easy to understand and execute.  One method pushes the envelope of technology; the other is an offline method giving you the comfort of trying things on in your own home.


Making it Easy
The “Try It Before You Buy It” method comes with a well-packaged box of frames and a witty card describing the simple steps to take. They also include a return address label to make it even easier to send everything back.


For every pair of glasses sold, they donate a pair to someone in need via a program called VisionSpring. MSLK  encourages all our clients to find causes they support or partner with, and this is a perfect example.



Extras Make All the Difference
I received an email last week saying “It’s Here. The 2011 Annual Report: 100% Full of Statistics, Facts, Figures, Maps and More!” It took me to a microsite of incredibly well-designed, clever, and informative statistics from the company’s past year.




Targeted Marketing
This last point is one that I have mixed feelings about, yet it is undeniably effective. Immediately after first visiting Warby Parker’s site, I started seeing ads for them on just about every blog and news site I visited. I soon realized that this was no mere coincidence; it is part of a highly-targeted advertising service called TellApart which tracks your web visits and presents ads from those sites to you on other sites. Weeks later, I am still seeing Warby Parker ads everywhere, even though I’ve already made the purchase. We think this approach is going to be essential to any online e-tailing strategy.