4 Dirty Little Secrets Online Retailers Don’t Want You to Know

They're Opening Real Stores at Record Pace

Glasses websites often suggest buying your eyewear online is the way to go.  But many of these same companies are opening physical store locations so people can shop in person.  What’s going on here?

Starting From Scratch

I have a friend who is a housing contractor.  Yesterday he told me he bought a house and tore it down, only to begin building a new one.


He said he’s rather start from the beginning than fix someone else’s mistakes.  If the walls aren’t square or the drywall is incorrect, it might cost him more to renovate.

To be fair, a house can settle over time.  But as often as not, it’s just poor craftsmanship.

How About Your Eyes?

The same can be true for eyewear.  It’s often difficult to fix problems caused by online glasses without starting over with a completely new pair.

That’s one reason why several online glasses retailers are adding physical locations where people can walk in and buy glasses.  Warby Parker Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal sums it up this way: “I don’t think retail is dead.”

What an understatement!  And while online companies would like you to think their physical locations are just their way of bringing you more of their online goodness, what’s being left unsaid?  There are other reasons online companies want physical stores, and they’d rather keep those a secret.  Because of course, they also sell glasses online.

Here are 4 reasons online retailers are really adding physical locations:

  • Fit.  Lets’ face it.  Online shopping isn’t known for precision, especially when it’s something you wear.  It’s common for people to order several outfits or pairs of shoes, only to keep one (if they keep any at all) and send the rest back.  And how many of those “keepers” quickly lose their appeal?  In a physical store, you can trust an eye care professional to get the fit right.
  • Finish.  A digital photo isn’t going to tell you anything about texture, flex, or feel.  It doesn’t matter how sophisticated the software, it won’t replace holding nice glasses in your hands or feeling them on your face.  Is that beautiful tortoise frame matte or glossy?  Is that sleek metal heavy or light?  And more importantly, which one will work better with your particular prescription?  These are questions a good optician can answer for you in person.
  • Style.  Have you ever bought a piece of art or decor that looked great by itself but just didn’t work in your home?  Chances are high this will happen with eyewear.  Even if it fits you, that gorgeous frame in the photo still has a high probability of not looking right.  Eyewear is meant to frame the face.  Which is wonderful if it emphasizes your positive features.  Not so much if it brings attention to ones you’d rather minimize.  A professional can help you find the best styles for your taste, your fashion sense, and even your face shape and features.
  • Vision.  Many patient surveys verify what your eye doctor already suspects: the most important part of eye care is clear vision.  And if vision is most important, then you need to be more concerned about the lenses than the frame.  There are dozens of companies that make lenses, and hundreds of lens brands you can choose.  And, some are much clearer than others.  Good ones offer clear, comfortable vision, and others are unwearable.  When you order glasses online, your lens choice is limited (if you get to choose at all).  On the other hand, ordering glasses from an experienced professional is the best way to know which lenses will give you the clearest most comfortable vision.

These are just a few reasons I’m not a fan of online glasses.  But then, if you’re living the visual lifestyle, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

Question: Have you ever ordered something online that just didn’t live up to the hype?  Please tell me about it in the comments below.


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