Warby Parker Invests $100 Million In Brick-And-Mortar Business Expansion

The popular eyeglasses retailer is betting on the fact that integrating online and offline offerings will lead to more sales than e-commerce alone.

E-commerce eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker is doubling down on the idea that today’s connected consumers still love in-store experiences, applying $100 million in recently raised funding primarily to expanding its physical store locations from 12 to 20 by the end of 2015.

Warby Parker in Los Angeles

According to The Wall Street Journal, the move more than doubles Warby Parker’s valuation, bringing it to $1.2 billion. But the significance is far more than financial — the brand’s commitment to brick-and-mortar business belies the growing importance of integrating online and offline in order to meet to totality of a customer’s needs.

Warby Parker’s initial online distribution model — which allowed customers to order and try on several pairs of brand-name glasses that retailed for under $100 before buying — already met the standard of giving customers “something they can’t get on Amazon.” But this physical store expansion takes things a step further; Warby Parker lovers still have access to the ease of online ordering, of course, but now the retailer can offer in-store experiences and events that are likely to draw even more shoppers.

Plus, it’s likely that Warby Parker will use its existing online popularity to create mobile and digital offers that inspire customers to take action and buy something in a store. In fact, a smaller portion of that $100 million funding will go towards building technology that will allow customers to conduct eye exams on their mobile phones — and after the mobile exam, Warby Parker can point the way to the right pair of glasses. There are opportunities to integrate technology into the real-world shopping experience as far as the — ahem — eye can see.

As Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa told TechCrunch, “We’ve… invested in technology to provide an exceptional customer experience online and off. This round of funding will allow us to continue to scale the business while focusing on product and technology innovation.We’re excited about what’s ahead.”

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.