Warby Parker: the bees knees


The Internet's Pal Adam released this new commercial today for Warby Parker, the hip online eyeglasses company.

Four short years ago I wrote a guide to finding cheap eyeglasses online, and one of my principal takeaways was that for most cheap eyewear sites, you have to wade through hundreds-to-thousands of options trying to find something cool. My tips certainly help, but it's still quite a bit of work to find something good and you are risking a few bucks on an unknown.

A couple years ago, a friend (can't remember who, perhaps Lane Becker? Anil Dash?) said the next big wave in business was "becoming the Zappos of anything." What they meant was even though there may be a crowded market for whatever is sold online, the market is ripe for someone to come in and provide the absolute best experience possible backed by great customer service.

I tried out Warby Parker last summer and loved it, buying two pairs of glasses I wear to this day. I've been meaning to write up my experiences with it ever since. Adam's commercial reminded me that I should write it up.

Buying cheap eyeglasses online is challenging for the following reasons:

  • there is too much selection at most sites
  • you never know what you are going to get sight unseen
  • it takes a lot of technical knowledge to figure out the sizes of temples, nose bridges, etc
  • at most sites, stupid glasses you would never wear are right next to cool looking ones, which are surrounded by 200 ho-hum options 

It's as if the people behind Warby Parker looked at every weakness in the online glasses buying process and came up with a solution, turning the whole thing into a positive.

The selection feels (I hate to use the word, but it is apt) curated. Instead of offering 500 options, there are about 25 and they're all pretty cool looking. The 5 pair try-it-on offer is terrific, letting you pick from all their styles to see what actually fits your face before you commit to buying them. The try-on is also free, which is incredible. Finally, when you do buy a pair, it's a decent price about half to one-third of what a nice eyeglasses shop would charge, and you get great customer service in the form of personal emails to you letting you know when they are made and shipped, and they check up on you after get them to make sure you are happy. Every single bummer thing about my original eyeglasses article is solved by Warby Parker, plain and simple (oh, and they donate a pair to charity when you buy a pair on top of everything else).

Last year I picked out three or four different designs I thought were all hits, but after I got the try-on pack, only one frame looked right and was the right size. It fit me so perfectly I bought two pairs in different frame colors and I recently scratched my favorite pair right across my normal eye path so I have switched to the second backup pair since. I would say in the future, I can't see buying glasses online from anywhere else (the added price of $95 versus maybe $40 elsewhere is totally worth it for the time-savings), especially since they started opening showrooms in a few select cities. The try-on pack was pretty fast, but it was a small pain to mail it back in, and I can't wait to try on every design quickly in their store.

Warby Parker didn't give me money to say this, didn't give me anything for free, and never even gave me a discount. I tried them on a whim last year and I've been nothing but satisfied ever since. They truly are the Zappos of eyewear and totally worth checking out.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

4 replies on “Warby Parker: the bees knees”

  1. Ditto all of this. Warby Parker is excellent. Amy and I both wear their frames and our experience paralleled yours.
    If “the Zappos of _____” is synonymous with excellent service in any industry, and not just excellent online service, then Steve’s Auto is the Zappos of auto repair in my area. Other than that, I’m a little sad that I can’t think of more examples of service excellence. Amazon is great, but it does feel like dealing with a robot.


  2. Les Schwab is the Zappos of getting tires on your car on the west coast. I visited them four times before I ever got to give them money — each time I drove in with a leaky flat tire, they plugged it for free and refused to charge me (and they greet you in the parking lot all friendly-like). I’ve bought tires and snow chains for all my cars from them since, but they really get that customer service is job 1.


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