When we think of companies leading the pack in innovative customer experience ideas, New York-based eyewear retailer Warby Parker can’t be ignored.
Starting as a strictly “ecommerce only” company designing all of their inventory in-house to avoid licensing fees, the founders quickly set themselves apart with more than just affordable frames––they immediately designed a customer experience that focused squarely on personalized service and fusing the offline and online worlds.
Selling eyewear only on the web presented a hurdle early on: People almost always want to try on glasses before they buy.
Without a physical store, they took their online business offline by opening a tiny showroom where prospective customers could come check out the glasses in person.
The hastily set up display was a hit as customers got to meet the founders in person and interact with their products right in front of them. With momentum behind them, they expanded their idea into one of the most unique online-to-offline customer experiences you can find in the retail world.
Uploading Personalized Service
Today, Warby Parker continues to enjoy massive success thanks in part to a completely unique POS system found in their handful of brick-and-mortar showrooms around the country.
Staying consistent with their original idea of “hyper-personalized” face-to-face service, they’ve taken the convenience of online shopping and combined them with the in-person experience found in actual stores.
Customers can upload their prescription info online, and then walk into a showroom to find which frames they like best. Sales reps are given a complete history of each person’s shopping data whether it’s a wish list, purchase history, or the prescription info they entered on the website.
With the data in-hand, employees submit orders and answer questions in person. The transaction doesn’t take place until the glasses arrive and can go home with the customer.
Tim Riley, the company’s director of online experience says the purpose of the strategy is to “allow salespeople to be one-on-one with the buyer,” keeping the personal touch consistent with what made customers fall in love with their brand from the start.
Taking The Personal Showroom One Step Further
Still primarily an online retailer, Warby Parker has also found a way to make online shopping as personal as possible with a home trial program that lets web customers choose five products that are shipped entirely free to their door for them to try on. When they find the style they like, they simply put the glasses back in the mail and make an order.
If you don’t want to wait, you can either upload a picture of yourself to their website to see what you look like wearing particular frames, or reach out through social media to ask real human beings which glasses they think would look best on you––a great example of how tearing down silos between channels is exactly what attracts consumers seeking out companies that give them the freedom to engage wherever they like.
How Can You Follow The Warby Parker Model?
Differentiate with personal engagement
Too many companies cut costs by automating customer interactions when in fact, it’s exactly what customers don’t want to deal with. Focus on delivering person-to-person experiences whether it’s the sales rep in front of you in the store or a personalized “thank you” tweet showing appreciation for a purchase.
If your social media strategy is only about marketing, you’re missing the point entirely. Start utilizing it as the powerful customer communication tool it can be.
Evaluate the customers’ experiences
Warby Parker’s success makes it clear that when customers want to purchase something, they don’t engage through one shopping channel alone. They jump between them to find the most convenient way to fit shopping into their already busy lives.
Discovering what paths to purchase your customers are taking most often allows you to focus on improving the connections between those channels specifically.
Customer journey mapping is the best way to measure and track how and where customers are engaging––giving you actionable insights into where your focus should be.