10 Ways Glasses.com is Changing Customers' Perceptions
Buying glasses online, whether prescription lenses or fashionable sunglasses, isn't the easiest of tasks. From finding a pair that are just the right size and color to getting the exact prescription lenses you need to seeing how the glasses will look on your face, the challenges are many. Glasses.com is trying to change that with a customer-centric approach that makes buying glasses online a joy, not a hassle.
In a presentation yesterday at the eTail East conference in Boston, Amy Larson, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Glasses.com, an online retailer of prescription and nonprescription glasses and sunglasses, talked about what it means to be a “customer first” brand.
We want to change the mind-set when it comes to buying glasses, Larson said, noting that 60 percent of all glasses purchased in the U.S. occur in doctors' offices – not the best of experiences. Glasses.com is intent on changing the experience of buying glasses.
Not only was buying glasses online challenging, but consumers shopping for glasses in doctors' offices or eyeglass stores were frustrated with the experience too, Larson said. They complain of a lack of price transparency – e.g., frames are listed for one price, but then add-on fees are included at checkout, such as prescription lenses – little product assortment, having to take off their current glasses to see how the frames look on their face (they're buying sight unseen, joked Larson), and then having to wait – often a week or more – for their frames to be ready for pickup after they've been outfitted with the correct lenses.
A Better Way to Buy Glasses
Glasses.com has come up with a number of solutions for making the glasses-buying shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. Larson touched on these solutions in her presentation:
1. All customers receive free lenses: You don't buy a pair of shoes and have to pay for the soles separately, why should it be any different with eyeglasses, Larson said. While a big commitment – and risk – for Glasses.com, the payoff comes in happier customers that shop again with the brand and become an advocate for it.
2. Expanded assortment of glasses: Glasses.com carries more than 60 of the leading optical brands for shoppers to choose from.
3. Virtual try-on technology: Glasses.com's mobile app features 3-D fit technology that enables consumers to see what frames will look like on their face without ever stepping foot in a store. The tool enables users to compare a new pair of glasses side-by-side with their current glasses. They can also post the virtual images on Facebook to get the opinions of their friends and family. The app has been downloaded more than 2 million times, and that's with little marketing budget for it.
4. Free in-home trial program: While other glasses retailers have rolled out their own trial programs, Glasses.com's is unique in that there's no back and forth with the retailer. They're shipped with your prescription lenses. If you like the glasses, you simply keep them. For other retailers' trial programs, you have to mail the glasses back to have your lenses be added to the frames.
5. Going the extra mile for your prescription: Rather than requiring the customer to enter all of their prescription information online, Glasses.com gives them the option to take a picture of that information and text or email it to the retailer. In fact, Glasses.com will even go the extra mile and call your doctor's office for you to get the prescription information if you don't have it.
6. Get orders to customers quickly: Ninety-six percent of Glasses.com's orders ship on the same day they're received. The retailer's own state-of-the-art lab creates customers' lenses, making same-day shipping possible.
7. A belief in collaboration: Glasses.com employs a test-and-learn approach to improving its customers' shopping experiences. We let customers vote with their clicks, said Larson. Glasses.com ran 87 on-site tests last year, on everything from price elasticity to messaging to experience, Larson added.
8. Empowered call-center representatives: Dubbed “glasses gurus,” Glasses.com's call-center reps are empowered to solve problems on their own. They're not provided with a script, but rather encouraged to engage in genuine and honest conversation with customers, Larson said. The glasses gurus are only scored on two metrics: one, did they make it easy for the customer and, two, was it an awesome experience.
9. Social media for customer service, community and commerce: For customer service, Glasses.com has instituted a policy that it will respond to any customer's query on social media within an hour from when it was posted. For community, Glasses.com has recently topped 100,000 fans on Facebook. These are like-minded individuals who believe in self-expression, Larson said. For commerce, Glasses.com isn't trying to sell its products via social media, but rather turn existing followers and customers into brand advocates.
10. Surprise and delight: As an online-only brand, Glasses.com has limited opportunities for physical experiences with its customers. One of those physical opportunities is the packaging that its orders are shipped in. We use high-quality packaging to own that experience, Larson said, adding that customers' anticipation builds for the final product as they open the package.
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