Scott Lachut: Warby Parker’s Flagship Foray Into Physical Retail
The iconic eyeglass brand moves offline with its new store, letting customers experience its frames in style.
Much has been written about how Warby Parker has reinvented the business of selling eyeglasses online from its reasonable price point ($95US) for a pair of fashion forward frames and buy one, give one model to its virtual and home try-on programs that give shoppers the confidence to pick the perfect style. Given the young company’s success with its e-commerce focus, it was only natural that it began experimenting with physical store sales. Early iterations included an in-office showroom, retail partnerships, themed pop-ups and even a school-bus turned mobile showroom that saw Warby Parker refine its customer service, aesthetics, storytelling and product curation.
All of this thinking has culminated in the launch of the brand’s first flagship retail space, which opened its doors to the public on April 13th. PSFK had a chance to tour the shop located in NYC’s Soho neighborhood and below we share some of the highlights.
Upon entering the space, shoppers are greeted by a bright, open layout with floor to ceiling displays that artfully border the walls, alternating Warby Parker’s frames with mono-hued books, which gives one the impression that they’ve walked into minimalist library. This metaphor continues as vistors stroll past two lamp-lined rows of tables located in center of the store, which present a visual timeline of the company from its humble beginnings to the opening of the flagship, helping reinforce the qualities that make the brand special.
This leads customers to a reception area set against a backdrop of dark wood, where they can make a vision appointment ($50US), a new service being offered by the brand. A digital display reminiscent of the mechanical flip board train schedules of old hovers above reception, tracking the queue of customers waiting to get their eyes checked. Apparently this modern version of a throwback design was inspired by the frequent train trips that Warby’s founders took between Philadelphia and New York when getting the company off of the ground.
Bespectacled sales associates in blue lab coats are on hand throughout the store to assist shoppers, and are armed with iPad Minis featuring an in-house developed POS system for credit card checkout on the spot. This technological touch mirrors the efficiency of the online interface, which has been designed to simplify the purchase experience. Add in a few unique elements, which include a themed photobooth that shares both digital and printed versions of your finest poses, full length mirrors to ensure that selected frames accessorize with your personal style and a curated selection of books and zines from like-minded publishers like McSweeney’s, and Warby Parker’s first official foray into physical retail successfully complements the brand’s online persona.
We look forward to watching the further evolution of the space, which promises to double in a social capacity, hosting after hours events and gatherings for its community of fans.