Article

TRENDSPOTTING Q&A

The EB Convo with…Warby Parker’s Pratil Lal, O.D.

Pratil Lal, O.D., MBA

Since its launch in 2010, Warby Parker has been paving new paths for consumers to get prescription eyewear.

In 2013, it broke from its online-only model and opened a brick-and-mortar store in New York City. By the end of this year, the company plans on having more than 100 stores in operation.

Here, EB checks in with Pratil Lal, O.D., MBA, the company’s director of vision services, to find out where Warby Parker plans to put its focus, and what kind of relationships it is forging with optometrists.

EB: How is Warby Parker changing its online + in-store experiences for a seamless customer experience?

Pratil Lal, O.D.: Since we launched in 2010, our mission has been to provide access to designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Our ultimate goal is to make shopping for glasses fun and easy across platforms, meeting customers how, when, and where they want to shop (be that online or in a retail store).

Providing incredible customer experiences is our top priority, and one example I bring up a lot is our custom-built POS system, which we call Point of Everything (or P.O.E. for short).

When we launched our first store in 2013, we quickly realized that no off-the-shelf POS system would provide the seamless customer experience that we’re known for—so we built our own! In P.O.E., our advisers can easily enter prescription information at checkout, keep track of frames that customers are interested in, manage wait times for optician adjustments, access information about insurance benefits, provide recommendations around suitable frames for a customer’s prescription type, and more.

EB: How is Warby Parker growing its brick-and-mortar presence + what is the company’s focus in that realm?

PL: We’ve opened more than 90 stores in the last six years and are excited to continue expanding our retail footprint. We believe that the future of retail blends online and offline experiences—so while we'll continue to open stores, reaching customers through warbyparker.com and our Glasses by Warby Parker app remains an important part of our customer experience.

EB: What opportunities exist at WP for O.D.s?

PL: As we continue to grow, we have more and more opportunities for O.D.s in full-time and part-time roles. While hiring, we look for O.D.s who are committed to providing incredible patient experiences, are passionate about the Warby Parker brand, and are excited about technology that will continue to allow us to provide high-quality, affordable access to eyecare.

We have the full spectrum of career opportunities available to our O.D.s, from part-time (including fill-in), full-time, and independent O.D. agreements. Involvement in these roles often includes working directly with other teams at headquarters by way of special projects. We believe that O.D.s are critical to our growth and patient experience, and because of that, Warby Parker creates an environment where O.D.s can thrive.

By the end of the year, about half of our retail stores will be staffed with either an in-house O.D. or an independent doctor. We’re excited to add eye exam rooms to many existing locations where we’ll be looking for independent doctors to practice.

—SUSAN TARRANT