That being said they are situated in a vertical that has efficiency players (Zenni Optical, Coastal Contacts) but haven't mastered the design/marketing/CS game yet. Going Zappos-style is their entrenchment mechanism, as well as the in-house designers.
The article just feels like submarine PR that's disconnected from reality. There are better online glasses stores.
Subscribe and save is interesting, but paying 40% more for toilet paper doesn't sound very disruptive to me. It's cool for offices and people with more money than time, but not disruptive.
I agree about Zenni Optical and Coastal Contacts --- they are basically pure price plays, while WP is aiming at a very specific customer segment and brand image/personality that's backed up by every interaction you have with them.
To be fair I think the brand play is a much better game to play than the price game -- if you know how to play it -- since it inherently leaves more money on the table.
Nowadays lots of people know about WB but not about Zenni and the other mass-market retailers, which speaks to the success of WB's marketing efforts.
Nowadays I think they do bulk shipping to a US outpost, then ship on from there using USPS to save costs.
I'm not sure it's a great comparison as WP is delivering on several other levels beyond price. The Zenni buying experience is decidedly inferior.
But despite the quality, theres some pretty stylish options that are perfect for people with no optical insurance :D
Also worth noting, the shipping time on Zenni takes forever. Forever being at least a couple weeks in my experience, but in fairness I haven't ordered recently.
If you have a normal range of eye correction and your face isn't too oddly shaped, I highly recommend these stores.
The issue with Zenni (and others where the lenses are produced outside the country) is they don't have the stringent quality control standards for lenses you find in the US, Canada and Europe.
If you have a fairly common and simple prescription, go for it. If you need progressives or bifocals, you should probably avoid buying online.
The cost to produce a pair of $25 and a pair of $100 sunglasses really can't be that different. Charging $100 signals the product should be good...but would anyone be able to guess that price when handed a pair with the name obscured?
Maybe it's different for their prescription versions.
The UI could use some work, true, but the savings on the frames is well worth the minimal inconvenience.
I'm really impressed with the build of them. They feel a lot better than my zenni optical pair (which were only 30 dollars, not 95). Hopefully the lens quality is better too (mostly anti-glare I'm concerned about), but I'll have to wait and see.
Also, if you missed their april fools site, it is extremely adorable and well done: http://www.warbybarker.com/
Every pair of glasses has a dog modeling it, ie: http://www.warbybarker.com/sunwear/aldous/
I bought a pair of WP glasses and my wife purchased a pair of sunglasses. Great glasses, price and service. Very satisfied.
They even have a one year return policy if they get scratched. They fit well and are stylish. The lenses have scratch protection and UV protection.
For $95 I might even buy a new pair though I dont need them.
They are high quality frames and lenses like designer level. Given we were about to pay 300-500 for new glasses we feel like we won the lottery.
I highly recommend WP it is a steal.
With that said though, the customer experience was fantastic. Very helpful and charming staff. I'd love to take a look at WP again if they ever added a few new styles of specs.
C and E are very nice choices as well!
Clean, engaging, and aesthetically pleasing.
Still, not a bad idea, especially for people without insurance.
This is false. Designer frames (Gucci, Nike, Kate Spade, Prodesign) retail around $120-$240. (I think? I'm going from memory here...) Lens pricing varies based on your prescription and options (transitions, AR, scratch coat, etc). Single vision wearers can easily get designer glasses w/ integrated anti-reflective for under $300 retail. At my optician that includes a 2 year warranty. Also my insurance knocks that down quite a bit. Since Warby only does single vision lenses, $300 would have been a more appropriate ballpark than $500. Lens price can jump up quite a bit if your prescription requires certain materials (e.g. high-index lenses) and it jumps up a lot when you get into progressives, etc.
Also, I can't remember ever purchasing glasses and not having them adjusted to my face when they arrive. I guess you can take your Warby glasses into your regular optometrist and have them adjusted but that feels a little like taking your Burger King cup to get free refills at McDonalds.
you're going to be choosing from the same frames as any person who lives in your area.
This is so much of a non issue that it is kind of weird to even mention it.
This is a market where sales channels are fragmented and undifferentiated. The product being sold is either the equivalent of the "CVS store brand" or has the prices inflated two-fold.
I assume he's talking about optical chains here? (Lens Crafters, etc.) Anyone want to guess what Warby's materials markup is? Cost x 2 seems like a reasonable guess.
Brick-and-mortar stores are expensive to maintain, inevitably adding a lot to the price of every product, but bring little value to the customer, except the ability to try on glasses.
I guess he's referring to optical centers that only sell glasses? I don't recommend going to those places, either.
Anyways... Warby looks good for people with simple prescriptions who don't have insurance. Really, it is just cheaper designer knock-off frames and low to medium grade lenses with really good customer service. A good business model, yes. Earth-shattering value and disruption? No. Most people will continue to buy at their doc's office.
Yeah, you can fuck around with a mirror and a ruler, or once at wallmart the kid at the counter just looked at me real hard and drew spots on the plastic filler lens... as far as I can tell, the actual machine to do that measurement? makes a pretty big difference.
I think the optometrists know this, too; the optometrist is happy to give me my prescription, but they won't give me the PD numbers. "you usually have it measured when you get the frames" they say. (I should look if it changes.)
And that's the thing, the difference between pretty good glasses and perfect glasses is huge for me. Enough that I'm happy to pay five hundred bucks for a product I can get for fifty online.
That said, my local Cosco has those machines, and as far as I can tell, the lenses they grind are just fine, and if not 1/10th the cost, at least 1/5th the cost of the optometrist.
But yeah, until they solve that measurement problem? I don't really see how this is any different from any of the millions of other online frame/lens retailers, save for the vertical integration (which is kinda interesting.)
"1) it fits the classic definition of a disruptive company and 2) is an innovative company playing in a large market with unsophisticated competitors."
Of course, everybody who does a startup has to go through the cloning phase. It's just part of learning how to build a business...
I bought my current glasses for ~$150 almost 3 years ago and they still look new. If you are visiting/vacationing, I highly recommend checking them out (I think the store that I bought them from was 1001 optical or something like that)
I had never heard of Zenni Optical until reading this HN thread, which goes to show you how successful WP's marketing is.
And I, too, am surprised at the lack of marketing done by Zenni; I swear by them now, since I always order the most minimalistic glasses possible - just a nickel's worth of metal to attach lenses to my face.
Disclaimer: not using specs at present but probably will be soon, I'm having to hold the books with small print further and further away...
Just about the cheapest place to get an eye exam is in the Wal-Mart vision department, and they're happy to hand over the prescription. Of course, they run the vision dept in part to try to sell you lenses/frames (or contacts), but it's a very corporate/streamlined place, and the actual employee working there doesn't mind if you want the prescription to take elsewhere.
On the other end of the scale, places that look more like a doctor's office than a frames showroom tend to be pretty professional about it. Since I have very strong myopia with some risk of retinal problems as a result, I've been going to a place that's a partnership between an optometrist and an ophthalmologist (M.D.) who do a more thorough eye-health exam, and there it's basically expected that I'll want to take the prescription with me.
The optometrist's exam prices are probably lower than they would otherwise be because he makes some amount of profit on the sale of frames and lenses. If the model becomes: get a script and buy the frames online, then the prices for exams are going to eventually go up.
I'm about to find out what happens in UK!
I considered interviewing them for Mixergy because I hear they're doing well, but the only metric I see for their success is valuation.
Though from what I have read, it looks like the UK opticians market has already been disrupted more than the US one has - in the last decade or two, war between retailers made it possible to get cheap spectacles on the high street. But prices have crept up and the time could be ripe for more disruption.
Any background on this - are they part of a group that specializes in copying success in other markets (e.g., Rocket Internet), or is it an independent startup?