Warby Parker image via instagram

Merging physical and digital retail with Warby Parker

Warby Parker image via instagram

Image via @warbyparker instagram

This post was compiled by Ogilvy and Mather’s Head of Strategy, Jimmy Schougaard, and APAC Regional Consultant, Giulia Callegari.

Warby Parker is continuing to grow as an example of what to do in the digital and social space when it comes to retail. David Gilboa started the company with some friends three and a half years ago and like most startups, they began the business working out of their own apartments.

Since then, Warby Parker has grown 200% per year and have 350 staff members. The company is growing much faster than what they thought possible. In 2013, it expanded its online-only operation to open four stores as a marketing play but they soon became much more than that. The company just raised 60 millions from investors, excited about the ecommerce and physical integration they are seeing.

How did Warby Parker get customers into the physical location at the beginning?

The company has hundreds of thousands of customers buying online and as a vertically integrated retailer, Warby Parker knows where all its customers live and the team can really reach out to the right people.

The initial press coverage had been very good to the company around the launch of the stores so it helped drive awareness. Combined with several showrooms, sales generated through physical retail are growing faster than initially anticipated but the majority of sales are still coming from the digital channels.

As a retailer that started in the digital space, Warby Parker is a very customer data driven organization. The data it gathers in direct customer engagement drives almost all decisions it makes. So consistency across all customer touch points is crucial. It only sells directly and the company wants to be in full control of the customer experience. Owning the customer relationship is the reason why Warby Parker are not considering wholesale at all.

Using social to generate revenue

For Warby Parker, as most companies, Facebook and Twitter are opportunities to create two way conversations. The company actually sees direct revenue streams to customer service questions handled through social channels. It’s also created a Youtube channel where they respond to tweets with videos and tweet the link back to the customer. It’s a fun way of interacting, it’s personalized and people love it and retweet it. On average a 1 on 1 video review gets 80 views each so each customer interaction extends the company’s reach as opposed to having someone call a customer service center.

Warby Parker also does not use emails for marketing. Even though when it sends out an email, the open rates are over 60% and generate sales, the company doesn’t want to follow the temptation to send more and more out and have customers tune them out. It’s rare it even emails the entire customer base and it tries to send one email a month but only if it’s targeted to different audiences.

Digital is still winning but can’t beat the live experience

The company focus a lot on details to create a special and a fun experience so that when people think about coming back they’d come back to its own store – whether physical or virtual. Warby Parker finds a lot of people buy 2, 3 or 4 pairs. With the offline shopping experience, it’s found it drives better upselling, as offline enabled the company to create a more magical shopping experience and allows it to establish a completely new dimension to the brand.