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Warby Parker CEO Explains How Retailers Can Thrive



The purveyor of eyeglasses has found success both online and in brick-and-mortar stores.
There’s no question that the retail landscape is changing, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not success to be found. One of the most fascinating retail success stories in recent times is that of Warby Parker, the purveyor of inexpensive eyeglasses that has found success both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Since the company has done such a fantastic job of making its mark, it’s a good idea to listen up when co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa. As PBS shares, he recently sat down with the network as part of its "Making Sen$e series."

Warby Parker CEO Dave Gilboa
Warby Parker founders, David Gilboa (left) and Neil Blumenthal

Brick-and-mortar retailers know full well that they need to ramp up their online offerings to survive in today’s day and age, and retailers that have found success online realize they need physical stores to achieve even more scale. Warby Parker falls into the later group, and the company is transitioning smoothly. 

“Our e-commerce business is doing well. That continues to grow quickly. But we found that there’s still a lot of demand for people walking into physical stores. And now we have 55 stores,” Gilboa said. “We’ll open about 25 this year. And we’re finding these great synergies between having both online experiences and offline experiences.” 

While that natural fear is that one segment of the business will cannibalize the other, that hasn’t been the case for Warby Parker. 

“We don’t think retail’s dead. We think mediocre retail is dead. And we’re finding a really powerful response from customers anytime we open stores. Both regarding driving sales through the stores themselves, but also in just the profitability of our overall business,” Gilboa notes. “The stores themselves are great billboards for attracting customers who are then spreading awareness about Warby Parker through word of mouth.” 

Warby Parker Store

It all comes down to execution, as well as an incredibly important factor that can be overlooked. 

“More than anything we just want to give customers options. We like to say that we’re experience-focused but medium-agnostic,” Gilboa continued. “We just try to make things as easy as possible, regardless of the medium. We think that the way that consumers engage with brands and retailers is going to continue to change...We just want to continue to offer options for consumers where they’re spending time.” 

Those are some fascinating insights, and there’s plenty of nuggets for retailers of all shapes and sizes to digest. Gilboa and the management team at Warby Parker have positioned the brand for continued growth, and that’s an impressive trick to pull off in today’s retail environment. 

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