Not too long ago I purchased a second set of eyeglasses from Warby Parker. Buying glasses online is a little like buying clothes online. You have to know your size for clothes; you have know your prescription for glasses. It’s scary to pay for something online that might not fit or, worse, might not look as good as the photo.
Their site compares well to American Apparel’s site with clean graphic design, big photos, and easy to navigate categories. Product categories have a nice filter-based interface so you can see everything at once, and then quickly eliminate what you don’t like. Product detail pages have a cute, Flash-based, virtual try-on widget that superimposes their glasses over a picture of your noggin. Once you’re ready to actually purchase, you can create an account and store your prescription information. This is actually doubly handy. If I want to buy glasses again, it’s easy, but if I lose my prescription info, I can just log in get it.
The best feature of their service is their home-try-on. Select up to five frames, provide a credit card for a security deposit, and they ship a beautiful cloth covered box with five sets of glasses to try on. The cloth box is shipped in a reusable shipping box and includes a return shipping label. The try-on frames will arrive in about 3 days. Then you have 5 days to consider your frames. When you’re done, put everything back in the box and drop it off at a UPS drop box. Easy. You receive an email confirmation when the try-on frames have returned.
When I did the home try-on, I only picked out two frames. I know what I like. My wife teased me for this. Why not get all five anyway, it costs the same. Warby Parker agreed and filled out the rest of the box with alternate colors and one similar frame to the ones I chose. While I did end up choosing from my original selection, it was nice to try the others just to be sure.
My prescription order took less than 10 days to arrive, and was just as carefully packaged. My new glasses look sharp and earn me complements from the ladies.
This whole process is so much easier than going to a store or visiting the little eye-glass hutch at the doctor’s office. I don’t have to wait around for someone to sign me in. No one tries to up-sell me to $600 fashion frames. But the important thing, the real important thing, is that my new prescription glasses, with high index lenses, with UV coating, with scratch protection, were just $125. That’s cheaper than I can get with my health insurance. If I didn’t need high-index lenses, I would have gotten out of there for $95. Amazing.
The whole experience was revelatory and freeing. I will never have to set foot into a Lens Crafters again.
There is only one real drawback, and that is they don’t offer a wide variety of lenses. They can’t do bifocals or color-change lenses (though they do have prescription sun-glasses). This is understandable; it is probably difficult to buy or manufacture complex lenses and hit their base price of $95. I wouldn’t be surprised if they begin offering special lenses in a year or two. If your eyeglass needs are simple, or if you want some slick shades, try them out.