Warby Parker has offered every indication that it plans to go public, and its next phase will focus on brick-and-mortar stores. Despite primarily making its name on online glasses sales, the $3 billion brand plans to open nearly three dozen stores this fall — expanding its store tally by almost 25%. Given the public’s hesitation toward online-only prescription glasses, the move makes sense.
According to a recent CivicScience study, more than three-quarters of the Gen Pop is either not interested in or hasn’t heard of online prescription glasses retailers. While a slim minority have tried a service like Warby Parker online, a promising 11% of Americans haven’t tried them yet but plan to in the future. (Both of these figures are an uptick from intent to purchasing history and intent to purchase in a 2019 study.) Rural and suburban consumers are the most likely to have not tried online glasses retailers and want to — and also the least likely to have any interest in them.
Expanding the brick-and-mortar business is sound intuition; according to a recent CivicScience study of glasses-owners, nearly 8-in-10 prefer to buy glasses in-store. But more than 20% of glasses consumers ultimately end up purchasing online, even if more than half still prefer to try them on in-store.
Americans earning under $50,000 annually tend to favor online shopping for glasses more than the Gen Pop — and earners in the $50,000-$100,000 income bracket outpace the Gen Pop with in-store glasses shopping. With its more affordable offerings, Warby Parker certainly aims to strike this balance.
Warby Parker co-founder and CEO Dave Gilboa recently told Bloomberg that the company’s “in the top of the first inning” concerning telemedicine. While the business has steadily increased its in-store eye exams, it plans to offer them online in the future to heighten the convenience of getting a new prescription. More than two-thirds of Americans aren’t interested in trying out an online eye exam, but — similarly to overall sentiment toward online glasses shopping — there’s a small contingency that hopes to try it in the future.
Although Warby Parker will likely be associated with its online operations first and foremost, the company’s intention to expand its brick-and-mortar presence tracks with glasses-consumer attitudes. As the business plans to go public, it sure feels like the safest — and wisest move for longevity.