In business since early 2010, this online eyewear company (founded by a group of friends) identified a specific problem in the purchasing process and made it the focal point of their business model.
The problem was that, given the impossibility of trying on, most users did not dare to buy glasses over the Internet.
Initially, this group of entrepreneurs tried to use facial recognition software that would allow users to upload their photos and try on glasses “virtually”. But at the time of launch, the technology was not ready.
Launch and value proposition
Given this situation, the idea of launching the “home try-on” program arose, which was decisive for the success of the undertaking.
The program works like this: once the client places an order through the web, the company sends the frames of 5 pairs of glasses so that he can try them on. By having variety, the customer can choose one or more pairs. You then send the frames back (within 5 days) and receive the selected pair(s) with the crystals, based on the magnification prescribed.
This strategy allowed them to achieve two objectives: on the one hand, to boost Internet sales by removing one of the main barriers that prevented online shopping. On the other hand, given that buyers generally receive the glasses at their office and try them on in front of their co-workers, they generated a situation of offline virality that helped attract new clients: they understood that a client has the potential to multiply for many more.
To this is added a no less important fact: the glasses cost 75% less than those of the competition. However, they are made in the same factories as the rest of the brands. That decision is also part of Warby Parker’s value proposition.
“Too much information hinders decision making”
The main decision regarding the website was to have a simple, easy-to-use design and to keep it free of distractions since they considered that the excess of information creates a paralysis effect that works against the moment of buying. By doing this, they also appealed to preserve the image of the brand and give users the confidence to buy.
Another key element is that all glasses have the same price. The founders argue that they made this decision to facilitate the experience of their customers and not force them to go through a purchase process that would force them to decide between an infinity of different prices and that would end up discouraging the purchase.
This principle is developed in the book “ 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People ” by Susan Weinschenk. She explains that although users prefer to have many alternatives available when making a choice, this ends up paralyzing the processing of information and, consequently, making a decision. For this reason, the author recommends limiting the number of options to 3 or 4 and if there are more alternatives, show them progressively.
The design of the “cross-channel” experience as a business key
As we already stated in the article “The impact of the user experience on the selection of products and services”, the user experience includes everything that a person experiences when using a product or service. That encompasses not only the brand’s decisions regarding the design of the website but also the tone of the communication and the type of attention it provides to its customers through all its channels.
The final experience is not reduced to the digital but is the sum of interactions with the different points of contact of the brand. Therefore, each point represents an opportunity to establish a relationship with the users of our product.
The founders of Warby Parker understood that experience design was key. Before launching the website, they spent several months prototyping the site in PowerPoint and testing it out with their friends and acquaintances. But they not only focused on the online channel, but also took charge of designing the experience of their customers at the different points of contact with the brand: from the moment the user enters one of the stores, they call the call center, receives your glasses, opens the order box, and finds your pair of glasses.
Everything is carefully designed to provide a differential experience.
close to users
In its early days, the company bought an old school bus that travels around several cities selling the products, gaining the attention of its inhabitants and the media at each stop.
In this way, using an unconventional means of promotion, they got to know their clients and generated a closer bond with them. One of the founders, Neil Blumenthal explains “this medium allows people to interact and feel the brand in a very unconventional way. In fact, when you buy a pair of glasses at the bus, the packaging is made of paper (as if you were buying lunch at a food truck).
Those unexpected details are what get customers talking about the brand; in fact, we estimate that 50% of our sales come from word of mouth”.
In terms of marketing and communication, the link they establish with customers tries to be transparent, showing who the people behind the brand are, what inspires them, what their values are, how the products are made, and their concern for generating social awareness.