Mobile Commerce

Warby Parker is Doing Everything Right, But Their Slow Site Might Cost Them the Game

Warby Parker, the eCommerce darling, has disrupted the eyewear industry through its innovative one-of-a-kind digital experiences.

Warby Parker, the eCommerce darling, has disrupted the eyewear industry through its innovative one-of-a-kind digital experiences. They are targeting the generation who holds the most buying power (Generation Z), and meets their demands through innovative ways of merging the online and offline shopping experience with free home try-ons and virtual, augmented reality-based try-ons in their mobile app. The retailer has adopted cutting edge technology across the board, including artificial intelligence (AI), headless commerce architecture, and a Single Page Application (SPA) written in React. However, it seems to be neglecting one critical component that their target market prioritizes: website speed.

A lot has been written about website speed. It impacts the entire customer journey from search ranking to traffic to bounce rates to conversions. But the importance of site speed really comes into light when you think about the average attention span of today’s consumer: eight seconds. You have only eight seconds to grab their attention and push them down the path-to-purchase before you lose them to a competitor, Instagram, or Snapchat.

Everything but speed

Site speed aside, Warby Parker is doing everything right. Their online presence is strong, the website is compelling from landing through checkout, and the price points appeal to the masses. If that’s not convincing enough, the retailer was valued at $1.75B on just under 300 million in investment and has even been named the Most Innovative Company in front of Apple and Google.

Nonetheless, a strong digital presence and compelling website only go so far...until a visitor gets stuck waiting for pages to load. And optimizing for website speed is where Warby Parker falls short. On or off wifi, their site is slow. And while you are stuck watching the infamous spinning-wheel-of-death, you’re asked to “sit tight.”

Gen Zers are physically incapable of “sitting tight.” If it’s not due to their attention span, it’s their preference, with 60% of Gen Zers reporting they won’t even use a site that is too slow to load. So, by the time that Warby Parker’s website is ready to load those tortoise colored frame options, the potential customer has already moved on.

It’s essential to understand that today’s consumers don’t want to hear about how much of an “industry leader” you are. They judge with their eyes first, and if your site doesn’t immediately appeal to them, they’ll bounce. Thankfully, Warby Parker’s mobile commerce site is contemporary and attractive.

Disrupting the industry in style

At first glance, Warby Parker’s site is very compelling. It contains prominent CTAs, engaging content, and easy navigation. The pop of color in the headers paired with negative space in the body gives the site a light and clean feel, encouraging users to continue browsing towards checkout. And to ease the burden of what can be an overwhelming search, visitors can be easily matched up with the brand’s top suggested eyewear picks, by taking a short quick to detect the visitor's preferred style.

So Warby Parker isn’t out of the race yet. The company understands that shopping for eyewear online is a difficult concept to connect to, so they came with a few innovative solutions to rise above the noise and win over loyal shoppers.

Emerging above competitors though mobile sales

With this vertical being nearly monopolized by EssilorLuxotticas (known for LensCrafters, Oakley, Ray Ban, EyeMed, and many others), lens prices are expected to be high, so Warby Parker came in with a fresh eye and an open ear to public opinion. They offer glasses starting at $95 and top it off with complimentary shipping and returns.

Not to mention, Warby Parker was the first to come out with the novel offer of Home Try-Ons where interested shoppers choose five frames, and test them at home for five days — shipped to them for free. So say goodbye to the aggressive in-store salesman and awkward on-the-spot decisions; Warby Parker opted in for customer comfort and ease.

Despite home try-ons being an interesting offer, it doesn’t call to the retailer's market of Gen Zers who represent $143B in global buying power and 93% of household spend. This group has expressed their need for immediate gratification, even preferring brick-and-mortar stores over mobile commerce when they account for slow shipping options. And if a mobile site takes even a couple of seconds to load, it stands no chance. So the crawling Warby Parker site found its loophole, and tapped into values that matter to this generation’s online purchasing: authenticity and relevance.

Warby Parker promises that for every pair of glasses sold, they distribute a free or discounted pair to someone in need. And with 69% of Generation Z preferring to buy from socially conscious businesses, the eyewear has proven its worth recently announcing its distribution of 5-million pairs of glasses through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program.

Staying relevant, they brand embraced new technology and introduced virtual try-ons that uses the latest artificial intelligence and augmented reality to provide customers a generated image (frames) onto real world images (user face) giving the user a nearly physical experience, right in the palm of their hand.

But does an attractive website and modern technology drive sales and precious ROI? It’s extremely difficult when you’re not optimizing the entire customer journey.

Website Speed Drives Traffic and Conversions

Let’s talk about website speed. Even with Warby Parker’s innovative tactics, they aren’t bringing users all the way down the path-to-purchase. It’s halted by slow load times.

Generation Z especially, will not find the Purchase button if your site lags. The average shopper browses through six pages on an eCommerce site, and even if the retailer abides by the golden rule of optimizing loads for under three seconds, visitors still spend 21% of their time just waiting for pages to load. Gen Zers are tech natives and seek out fast and personalized experiences.

Warby Parker’s React website is a Single Page Application, but that is only a front-end solution while complex, database-driven eCommerce sites are facing a full-stack problem. Website speed optimization is a problem that spans the browser, CDN edge, and server. So only a full stack solution, such as Layer0, can enable enterprise eCommerce websites to achieve amazing speeds.

Layer0 enables sub-second websites through a portable, React website frontend, CDN-as-code, and a Backend for Frontend (BFF) for server-side rendering, auto-AMP creation, and more. And with one-third of Americans visiting Layer0-powered websites every month, scalability is built into the platform.

Instantly loading websites will be the turn-key to unlocking Gen Z’s $143B buying power. For example, Venus Fashion, a leading womens’ apparel retailer, went from 15.25% of its pages loading in under a second to 72.75% of its pages on Layer0, bringing them a median load time of 320 ms. The result: a 24% increase in conversions, not to mention a rise of 18 positions in their average search rank.

Bottom Line

Site speed is a determining factor in website ranking, traffic, and conversions. Warby Parker is just another example of eCommerce sites that have not made the switch to adopting technology that enables nearly-instant page loads.

Site speed optimization is a full stack problem and Layer0 is the only full stack solution for complex, database-driven eCommerce websites. By bringing intelligence to the edge, optimizing the browser with progressive web apps and predictive prefetching, and optimizing the server with a backend-for-frontend, Layer0 delivers instant loading websites no matter how complex.

Layer0 can help you meet the new customer experience demands and deliver the solution you need to remain competitive in the years to come. Schedule a consultative conversation today and join other industry leaders in the race to become the fastest, most reliable and engaging eCommerce site.

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