A Disruptive Business Model

I’ve been meaning to replace my eyeglasses for about 2 years.  Me losing them a few weeks ago at a 2 day Mobility Practice planning off-site accelerated the process.

I was doing the normal rounds to the standard eyeglass vendors, as well as some of the more unique eyewear boutiques.  The shopping process was not bad aside from the traveling to various locations – the shops were nice, the people friendly, and in some instances knowledgeable.  What was difficult was the price – standard glasses started around $400, but it was really quite easy to get into the $500 – $700 range.  Full disclosure – as great a place as Centric is, and as hard as we work to provide great benefits for our employees, we don’t have great coverage for glasses.

Enter a truly disruptive business model.

Warby Parker (www.warbyparker.com).  Their process:

  • use web to browse glasses, select 5 you think will work
  • they ship the 5 samples to you, you try on, make decision
  • enter your order via their web site (you’ll need to have a prescription)
  • receive glasses in the mail.

What’s disruptive about this?

  • cost:  all glasses on their site are $95, including lenses according to your prescription, and shipping
  • social: for every pair of glasses you buy, they donate another pair to someone in need
  • speed:  I placed an order for glasses via the web Monday evening.  Glasses were at my house Friday morning

How do they do this?  Using all of today’s technologies to attack the current status quo.  And they’ve cut out all middlemen by designing their own frames, making business entirely web based, and keeping the selection and ordering process simple.

As Jeff Bezos recently stated in an article in Forbes “This is Day 1 for the Internet.  We still have so much to learn.”  Warby Parket is a great example of the disruptions to come.

I welcome your comments.

Mike Brannan