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Insights Interview: Q&A with Neil Blumenthal, Founder & CEO, Warby Parker

In our Insights Interview series, we were lucky enough to sit down with Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, who is also speaking at our upcoming Shopper Insights & Retail Activation conference in Chicago next month.

Warby Parker is a transformative lifestyle brand that offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. In 2015, Fast Company named Warby Parker the most innovative company in the world. Prior to launching the company in 2010, Blumenthal served as director of VisionSpring, a nonprofit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own businesses selling affordable eyeglasses to individuals living on less than $4 per day in developing countries. He was also named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. 

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Why has Warby Parker been so innovative in the retail space?

Blumenthal: At Warby Parker, creating exceptional customer experiences is always at the forefront of our mind. When it comes to developing and designing new stores, we’re focused not just on how the physical space can accommodate and delight our customers but on how technology figures into the in-person experience. Helping our customers update their prescriptions and check out more easily requires as much forethought as finalizing the aesthetic details and choosing locations.

Why is the physical store not yet dead? Will we always need the physical store?

Blumenthal: It’s impossible to replace the tactile, social experience that a physical store offers. While the retail space will certainly evolve, it will not disappear.

Why must retailers re-think the look, size and purpose of the store to serve and satisfy customer needs?

Blumenthal: It’s a question we’re always asking: What will it take to provide our customers with more value and more convenience? Customer needs and expectations are constantly shifting while new technology is making it increasingly easy to prefer engaging online. It’s up to retailers to consider how they can evolve with technology and other changes to better serve the customer.

How can the look and size of the store affect customer loyalty and business value?

Blumenthal: There are countless ways in which physical spaces can evoke emotional responses. If you are deliberate about creating a setting that generates positive feelings, customers will visit again and again.

How can retailers re-invent their physical store while continuing to strengthen their online channel too?

Blumenthal: The two are not mutually exclusive—they complement one another. Customers often go between the two mediums, often during the same transaction. Retailers should focus on designing both digital and physical experiences for every customer path that exists for their product. 

Want more on the how to be more innovative in retail from Neil Blumenthal? Don’t miss his session, “The Future of Consumerism: Why Flipping the Script Worked for Warby Parker” at Shopper Insights & Retail Activation 2018 taking place June 13-15, 2018 in Chicago. Learn more:

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