The Hustle

Warby Parker sets its sights on more in-person retail

Warby Parker is adding 25% more brick-and-mortar locations, betting that post-COVID shoppers will want the hybrid experience.


June 7, 2021

”How can eye help you?” (Source: Warby Parker)

New York-based glasses and contacts retailer Warby Parker made a splash with its ecommerce model when it launched in 2010.

Now, the startup — valued in August at $3B — is expanding a brick-and-mortar path. It’s adding 35 new stores in 2021 on top of its existing 140.

Why in-person and why now?

Warby Parker’s customer transactions…

… are pretty evenly split between in-store and online, co-founder Neil Blumenthal tells The Hustle. But ~75% use both (AKA hybrid shoppers).

They look at frames online before an eye exam or try on glasses at a store before buying online. During the pandemic, online sales for glasses (and basically everything else) increased as in-person retail temporarily shuttered.

But in recent weeks, in-person sales have rebounded…

… And landlords are still flexible on rents

Retail Dive spoke with analysts who say it’s a great time for digitally native brands to get into physical retail while landlords are offering good deals.

Likewise, Blumenthal also told The Wall Street Journal that Warby Parker has been able to negotiate with landlords, reducing risk.

So, what makes a good retail experience?

A one-stop shop that’s fun.

Beauty brand Glossier attracted customers with its Instagram-friendly design, as did mattress company Casper with its napping pods.

Warby Parker stores offer eye exams, glasses, contacts, and accessories, plus original artwork.

And sometimes bike racks shaped like glasses:

Source: Hudson Reporter

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