Warby Parker: Taking the lead in Online to Offline

by Kate Enright

www.vonbismark.com

Things are looking great for fashion and tech forward startup Warby Parker as they open a new flagship store in SoHo. The store is a design and customer experience masterpiece. From it’s  old-world libraries, to it’s 1950s furniture and vintage looking equipment, they have planned out and splashed out, on every detail.

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The company began as an online store which proved very popular with younger Gen Y (aka hipster…kind of) audiences, and then expanded by opening small stores  within other larger retail locations. These small Warby Parker showrooms were opticians with a difference, where customers could try on glasses in 3D and have a unique experience unlike any other on the high-street. By combining the latest in technology with the latest in fashion and design they simply blew people away. The little stores soon began sprouting up all across the US and their cult popularity grew along with their capital (Warby Parker closed a $41.5 million investment at the end of February this year)! They now have their very own, full-size retail location and we have no doubt about its impending success. They simply understand their target market, they understand Gen Y consumers and they know how to bring them in.

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WP are an example of the latest trend in e-commerce companies moving offline and building their own brick-and-mortar retail outlets. We have discussed this trend in recent posts and so many of the online giants are now onboard with the idea, that there must be value in it.   Amazon, Google, Ebay PayPal and more have all either expressed interest in moving to offline or already made the move. PayPal for example are now making physical hardware for the high-street and working with retailers globally.

“We wanted to create a much different experience here: have a lot of room for people to bring friends, get opinions from other people,” says co-founder Dave Gilboa. “A pair of glasses is one of the only thing you wear on your face, and it says a lot about how you want to express yourself.”  (NY Daily News)

Hear hear Dave! It’s all about getting that personal opinion, that physical data that online just doesn’t offer.

The bright and beautiful showroom is the perfect example of ensuring customer satisfaction through layout and design we spoke about last month. This space is irresistible to passers by and is modelled the New York Public Library, with brass lamps, rolling ladders and old books. Awesome is not the word.

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And WP have big plans for bringing more tech into the offline world. They are leading the charge in collecting data by wiring the stores with sensors to get a better understanding of how people shop with them in terms of flow, store design, gender, age group, preferences and more. Very clever and forward thinking!

We are well and truely on the Warby Parker bandwagon. Here’s hoping a store opens in Dublin!

Founders Neil Blumethal and David Gilboa

Founders Neil Blumethal and David Gilboa… because they’re just the coolest.

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