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Warby Parker complements mobile app rollout with home trial options

Warby Parker is attempting to bring more convenience to the eyewear-buying process by introducing its first iOS application, which enables users to select five frames to try on at home – with free shipping – showcasing how retailers can merge physical and digital shopping experiences.

The sunglasses and eyeglasses manufacturer is rolling out the new Warby Parker app in the hopes of giving customers a pocket tool with which they can order new frames, shop the brand’s entire inventory from any location and use Apple Pay for a frictionless checkout experience. However, the most enticing in-app feature is likely the Home Try-On tool, which allows users to choose up to five frames, receive complimentary shipping for the items and test them out in the privacy of their homes, eliminating the need to visit a bricks-and-mortar store to interact with products in real-life.

“For products that have a lot of choices, like eyeglasses, consumers want to try, or test, a lot of options to make sure they make the best choice,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Rather than drive to a store to try, or have products shipped to their homes, it would be extremely convenient and fun if consumers could superimpose the eyeglass style over an existing headshot photo or an interactive selfie.”

Four eyes on mobile
Warby Parker is aiming to appeal to socially-conscious shoppers by distributing a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair of glasses sold. Its free shipping and returns policy also speaks to consumers’ increasing expectations for retailers to offer inexpensive and speedy ways to deliver purchased items.

Warby Parker app users will now be able to leverage their smartphones to shop optical, prescription and sunglasses frames starting at $95. The app will also enable users to manage their eyewear prescriptions, a feature that could be useful for a family with differing optical requirements.

Individuals can opt to filter their choices or browse through the brand’s entire inventory. Each frame is accompanied by a small product description, and contains width and measurement specifics.

Once consumers have selected a pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses, they may click on the “Try on at home” or “Buy from $95” button. This will bring them to the checkout page, on which they can complete their purchase via Apple Pay.

Users who do not have an Apple Pay account can still check out by inputting their credit card details.

The Warby Parker app is currently only available for iOS devices.

A slew of eyewear brands have been cottoning onto mobile retail recently, leveraging a variety of tactics to showcase their products in a way that seems enticing to younger consumers.

Last year, Guess helped consumers explore its line of sunglasses on mobile via an advertisement that asked users to snap a selfie and virtually try on different styles tailored to specific face shapes (see story).

Additionally, sunglasses maker Ray-Ban spun a new take on the traditional campaign for change by appealing to the humorous side of consumers through social media (see story).

Bringing in-store experiences to homes
Warby Parker is also bringing its previously desktop-only Home Try-On service to mobile users. Home Try-On lets shoppers choose up to five frames they are considering toward their final purchase and have the products shipped to their homes, free of charge.

This enables them to try on the frames without feeling rushed for time or pressured to make an on-the-spot decision. Consumers may also want to test out the frames with different outfits or hairstyles to ensure they choose the style best-suited to them.

Home try-on options may begin to proliferate in the retail sector, particularly among accessories brands, which could transform marketers’ business models. Time-strapped customers with little incentive to visit a bricks-and-mortar location will likely appreciate being able to receive several different item styles at their homes for free before selecting which products they would like to purchase.

As brands search for the most optimal ways to merge physical and digital shopping experiences, home try-on services could be the first step.

“Warby Parker’s free shipping and returns for five frames program is a risk-free way for consumers to try several eyeglass styles in the comfort of their home,” Mr. Naumann said. “It is also a great way to get opinions from some of their friends.

“This convenient, risk-free, try-before-you-buy program should inspire more people to try more new frames and ultimately buy more products.”