Ugh, I’ve been delaying the inevitable: I need new prescription glasses. My old ones are scratched, beat up, and my eyes have changed over the last few years. I can’t wait any longer, but I’ve had a difficult time finding a frugal and fashionable pair of prescription glasses.
80% of the market is owned by one company
If you venture into any LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Target Optical, and/or Sears, you’ll find a curious coincidence: The brands and price structure are the same. An Italian-based company, Luxottica, is behind most of the prescription glasses you’ll find at those stores. With a crushing grip on production and sales, the company dominates the margins and swarms consumers. In fact, they own 80% of world’s major eyewear brands.
Over the years, I’ve supported this company – whether I wanted to or not. They own brands like Oakley, Ray-Ban, and Oliver Peoples, while making co-branded products for Burberry, Coach, and many other companies. Chances are, you’ve helped the company’s bottom line.
Say hello to Warby Parker
While I wanted something frugal and fashionable, I thought I’d have to sacrifice and buy a no-name, standard frame. Fortunately, I found a growing company that’s mixing up the glasses market: Warby Parker.
The founders of Warby Parker realized the aforementioned fact – that one company has near-complete pricing power – and decided to throw a wrench in the system. They used their Wharton Business School education to analyze the supply chain and found a Chinese glasses manufacturer (the same one as Luxxotica) to make their frames. Now, the company is run like a tech titan and has even received a variety of angel investments and seed money.
Their business model is reminiscent of Zappos.com. Customers can purchase frames online, upload a copy of their vision prescription, and in a few days the frames are yours. Likewise, their customer service handled all my questions in a respectable and timely manner. But there’s more that makes Warby Parker unique.
Free, at-home try on and returns
Without vision insurance benefits for a new pair of glasses or lenses, I wasn’t able to find much in my price range before Warby Parker. Unlike Luxxotica’s exotic pricing, most WP frames are about $95, ship free, and include premium lenses (anti-reflective and scratch resistant).
What about trying them on before you spend the money? All you have to do is browse through their website, pick up to 5 frames, and they’ll ship them to you to try on.
When I received my package about four days later, I immediately tried them all on and picked a pair that worked for me. I packed the container, with the five frames, and shipped it back via UPS, hopped online to their website and purchased the exact one I wanted.
The process could not be more convenient – you get prescription frames direct to your doorstep! I’m exceptionally happy about the experience and will purchase again.
Do you know of any other places you can get frugal and fashionable prescription glasses?
Update: Just received my brand new pair of Warby Parker prescription glasses! The entire experience was flawless and the glasses are awesome. I will definitely be choosing this frugal option again!