Warby Parker is one example of an online retailer that’s moving toward more brick-and-mortar stores, even as these physical retailers are trying to figure out how to transition to being successful online retailers.
Warby Parker, purveyor of hip eyeglasses at inexpensive prices, is opening its second Seattle location Saturday in University Village.
The 6-year-old company soared to a $1.2 billion valuation last year with a business model that keeps prices low by designing its frames in-house and selling directly to consumers.
Its geek-chic aesthetic, and practice of shipping five frames at a time for free at-home tryouts, have attracted an increasing number of customers.
In 2013, the company that started out as an online-only pure play began establishing brick-and-mortar stores. It currently has 33 retail locations across the U.S. and one in Canada.
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It’s one example of an online retailer that’s moving toward more brick-and-mortar stores, even as these retailers are trying to figure out how to transition to being successful online.
Online jeweler Blue Nile, for instance, has opened a small number of stores — essentially showrooms — in malls so customers can become familiar with its offerings and to let them see and touch the wares before buying online.
“Opening physical stores has allowed us to build relationships with our customers in person, and to create a physical environment that expresses the Warby Parker brand,” Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO, said in a statement. Blumenthal founded the company with co-CEO Dave Gilboa, and Andy Hunt and Jeff Raider, who currently sit on the board.
Some 85 percent of customers who shop in Warby Parker’s stores visit its online site first, and “we’ll continue to meet them where they want to shop — in person or on mobile and social channels like Snapchat and Instagram,” Blumenthal said.
The company opened its first Seattle store in Fremont in October 2015. While the design of the Fremont store plays with the concept of writer’s block (with walls of stacked books and typewriter-topped desks), the University Village location goes for a classic library-inspired aesthetic, with light oak shelves, marble tabletops and brass detailing, the company said.
At the University Village store, shoppers can try on frames and buy eyeglasses and sunglasses in the store, taking home any frame that doesn’t require a prescription. (Customers who buy prescription eyeglasses can have their order shipped to them or pick it up in the store.) They can also pick up their prescription eyeglasses ordered online, and get their glasses adjusted.