Andrea, that’s a great point. I think in markets where mail-order is not feasible, you might need to work with physical intermediaries, though this would increase costs and reduce the convenience of having products shipped to your home. Intermediaries could run shops that would carry “try-on” inventory; customers would have to visit the intermediaries’ shops to select a frame and then return to pick up the glasses.
While working in Zambia over the past summer, I noticed that interaction with intermediaries tends to replace a lot of the transactions that we conduct online with no human contact in the US (e.g., buying airtime or electricity credits from a dealer instead of online). Hopefully some savvy entrepreneurs in partnership with local governments can improve infrastructure and create opportunities for new delivery models, as you suggest!
Curtis, I agree that the company is benefitting from the millennial mindset that values corporate social responsibility, which could become less salient in future years. That said, I think doing good in the world is core to the mission of Warby Parker, so I do not expect that they would ever pull away from making glasses available in underserved locations. If they really needed to pivot to reduce costs, I think they would pull back on retail stores before taking away the giving component of their model.
Rohan, Warby Parker has been incredibly successful in terms of sales (~$3,000 per square foot) and currently has a $1.2B valuation, but the company is not yet profitable, according to an article published in the WSJ in April 2015.
Hi Ni, thanks for your comment.
Warby Parker actually does offer adjustments at their brick & mortar stores (they have one in Boston if you want to check it out!)
Regarding inventory, they carry inventory of non-prescription sunglasses only in their brick & mortar stores. For prescription glasses, customers can try on frames in the stores and place an order in store or online; they then either get the glasses shipped to their home or pick them up at the store. In this respect, I think Warby Parker’s retail store model is quite similar to Bonobos’s model.
This is a fascinating business and sounds like it really is making a difference for the Kenyan population and the Kenyan economy, thanks for sharing! It makes sense that this mobile payments system was developed by a mobile network operators, given that Safaricom would have had to overcome similar distribution challenges to sell airtime in rural, difficult to access locations. Do you know if the 40,000 M-PESA agents overlap with the same agents that sell airtime and data?
Agreed, I expect to see Warby Parker continue to enter new markets. I believe there are other players competing against Warby Parker, such as Frameri: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/frameri-one-lens-many-frames#/ However, Warby Parker has a significant first mover advantage and strong brand recognition as you mentioned.
Hi Claire, that’s a great question. I generally share the same concerns about the traditional one-for-one models. Warby Parker’s giving model is actually quite different from the TOMS one for one models. Instead of giving away a pair of their own glasses, they partner with a nonprofit partner that independently procures glasses and trains local entrepreneurs in developing countries to sell glasses and give eye exams. Local entrepreneurs then provide eye exams and sell the glasses at an affordable price to people in their community. The model is “one-for-one” in the sense that each month, Warby Parker tallies up the number of glasses sold and provides a monthly donation covering the cost for the nonprofit to acquire the number of glasses. However I think it is a lot more sustainable than traditional one-for-one models because it is providing people with the tools to build their own businesses while still enabling the population to access eyecare that they previously could not.
I do think this model is driven by the vision of the founders to do good in the world, but I think it resonates with consumers too.
Below I have included the link to Warby Parker’s description of their giving model, as well as another article with additional insight
Great post, I really enjoyed it! Iora’s model is a really inspiring example of how process innovation can improve quality and efficiency of healthcare. The team-based approach is an effective way to give the patient more individual care while using less expensive staff time, by pushing some of the education and support work to health coaches as opposed to doctors or nurses.
It was interesting to hear that they offer one hour appointments instead of 15 minute appointments, and I would be curious to know how that appointment time breaks down. Is it still 15 minutes with the doctor and 45 minutes with a nurse or a health coach? Are mental health professionals responsible for conducting the screening, and is that part of the one hour visit, too?
I love Trader Joe’s, so I really enjoyed learning more about their business model and operating model. Regarding the low SKUs compared to industry average, I think your point about consumers trusting the Trader Joe’s private label brand makes complete sense. For example, other grocery stores typically carry many different brands of pasta, along with a private label option. Not so at Trader Joe’s, where there is only the private label brand, which dramatically reduces complexity. The amazing thing is that consumers not only are satisfied with the private label but actually seek it out. Furthermore, I think having primarily private label brands and offering everyday low prices without sales actually improves the experience for Trader Joe’s customers because it makes the shopping experience simpler. (I enjoy not wasting time evaluating options from different manufacturers and looking for which products are on sale.)
As a side note, I’m not sure if you have ever been to the Trader Joe’s on Boylston Street in Boston, but it is tiny yet still seems to have everything the customer needs. (During peak hours it is packed, but there is usually adequate inventory.) I would be curious to know more about how they refill their shelves and where they store backup inventory given how small the store is.