Well, why do they? Glasses have been around for literally hundreds of years, and yet, in most cases, a pair of high-quality frames and lenses will cost more than a brand new iPhone.
This is what prompted the founders of the online store Warby Parker to go into business for themselves selling prescription glasses for a fraction of the normal cost.
Watch the Tech Crunch interview with Warby Parker founders David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal:
“Having crafted their plan during business school, the foursome launched the company two years ago this month,” writes Josh Zelman of Tech Crunch.
During the Tech Crunch interview, Gilboa said that he couldn't understand why “glasses cost more than an iPhone.” But after doing some research, he quickly discovered the reason: “a handful of companies" controlled "the entire supply chain.”
This raises some interesting questions: Do you sit around and complain that it’s not “fair” when so few control the supply chain? Or do you get in the game and create genuine competition?
The Warby Parker team chose the latter.
For instance, they decided to create their own brand of glasses so that they wouldn't have to rely on the existing supply chain. This allows them to sell their product for well below the average price.
“However, because their product was only available online, the team had to figure out a way for customers to try on the frames,” Zelman writes.
This is where they got really creative.
The Warby Parker team created a "first of its kind" program where consumers could actually select 5 frames from the online store, have it shipped for free, and they get 5 days to try them out -- with no obligation to buy.
When they were finally ready to "open" their online store (we're not entirely sure how you "open" an online store, but you get our meaning), they were met with resounding success: the store sold out of its top 15 styles in only four weeks and hit its sales target for the entire year in less time than that (three weeks).
Oh yeah, since opening two years ago, the company has also expanded to 60 employees.
It's always refreshing, especially with these tough economic times, to see that there are still some entrepreneurial individuals in the U.S. getting in the game as opposed to complaining about it.