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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
I'm recording this in Seattle, where, while visiting the AmazonBooks store in University Village, I walked across the way and visited Warby Parker; I've been aware of the Warby Parker brand online, but never had the chance to visit one of their bricks-and-mortar units before.
It turns out there are more than 50 of them, all of them of differing designs and either conforming to or appropriate to their neighborhoods.
Warby Parker launched its business online, on the premise that it could bring stylish eyeglass frames to folks at reduced prices, with a try-on program that allows people to choose five frames from the website to try and return the frames they don't like.
One of the things that I must confess that I did not understand about the online model was how it worked for prescriptions. Going into the store, I found out that in fact they do prescriptions - $299 for most of them, including the frames, and a little more for more elaborate prescriptions. (I can appreciate that, since between my keratoconus and astigmatism, my prescription could be generously described as elaborate.)
The store is cool and user friendly, but I think the most interesting thing about it is that it extends the brand in a way that provides greater clarity and a tactile experience to the basic value proposition. (The eyeglass store that I've been patronizing decided to go more upscale, and make it almost impossible to go in the store and just try on frames. You need to engage with an employee to do so, and then they pull the frames from these deep, seemingly impenetrable drawers. That may seem upscale to them, but to me, it eliminates the fun of going into an eyeglass store - you get to try different looks and play with different images. I'm changing eyeglass stores.)
That's a good thing, and I think that it illustrates the importance of an omnichannel approach to retailing. There's no question that e-commerce offers a certain kind of advantage to some people, but so does bricks-and-mortar retailing ... and it will be the companies that figure out how to serve the customer, whatever that means that will enjoy a differential advantage.
You just have to be clear-eyed about it. No blinders.
That's what is on my mind this morning, and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
Content Guy's Note: Thanks again to MNB readers for all your patience with a reduced MNB in the wake of my Dad's passing.
- KC's View: