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The Strategy Behind Warby Parker’s New Augmented Reality Ecommerce Tool

warby parker augmented realityConvincing shoppers to buy a product online can be a challenge for any ecommerce business operating in a competitive market—especially when the product you’re selling relies almost exclusively only on personal preferences and your ability to see and try the physical product before you buy.

Changing the Way People Shop for Glasses

Warby Parker has already done it once with their “Home Try-On” model for prescription eyeglasses where shoppers can select 5 frames to test out for 5 days at home with free shipping both ways. Now they’re hoping to transform the way people shop for glasses yet again using Augmented Reality.

The Motivation Behind Augmented Reality

It’s likely the move is designed to 1) control expenses by limiting what has to be massive amounts of money spent on free shipping and handling shipping and returns 2) give shoppers yet another easy and convenient way to shop for glasses as well as 3) continue to be on the leading edge of technology and hipper than their competitors who offer a similar experience and product at a lower price such as Zenni Optical or David Kind.

The Potential Challenge

Warby Parker has built a business and a brand around shipping glasses to your home free-of-charge, giving you a chance to try them on and only pay for what you keep. By doing so, they eliminated the biggest hurdle to buying eyeglasses online—having a chance to actually see what they look like on your face.

The idea is a smart one. Reach today’s connected consumer with some really cool technology. However, trying to persuade current and prospective customers to try something that’s potentially counter to what Warby Parker’s brand was built on, could be difficult. To be successful, you also have to ask your customers to download yet another app.

I don’t wear glasses (at least not yet) so I reached out to people in my social network to see if any Warby Parker buyers were already using the app. Their initial feedback echoed what you’d expect. The technology sounds cool and might be something they would check out, but many still preferred to try on the glasses before making a purchase.

Augmented Reality & The Future of Ecommerce

Will Warby Parker’s virtual try-on tool ultimately replace their home try-on program? Only time will tell. Persuading consumers to change the way they shop for a product (especially when they’ve already grown to like your current model), will likely require a few carrots along the way.

One thing is for certain. As technology continues to get better, shopping online for highly personalized products and experiential products such as clothes, shoes, and eyeglasses, will only get better. Kudos to innovative companies like Warby Parker for trying to figure it out.

Have You Tried Warby Parker's AR Try-On Tool?

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear how you think it compares. Happy shopping!

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