AR and customer experience: Warby Parker and Zenni Optical

Our final case study about how emerging augmented reality technologies affect the customer shopping experience focuses on eyeglass companies Warby Parker and Zenni Optical. Each retailer offers an option to virtually try on glasses. This helps shoppers determine which frames suit them without visiting a store.


Zenni Optical

Zenni’s website displays a “Try On” option on most of its glasses. If using the app, it then prompts the shopper to either upload a photo or choose from a selection of different face shapes. If using the website, it requests camera access and directs the shopper to rotate their head, creating an accurate face shape to virtually try on glasses. Both methods are simple to use and make it easy to switch between color options of the same style. Because Zenni does not currently have brick-and-mortar stores, AR is an essential part of their business model, allowing customers to buy with more confidence and decreasing the back-and-forth shipping of customers ordering glasses they are unsure about.


Warby Parker 

While Warby Parker’s virtual try-on function is only available through their iPhone app, there are some superior aspects to the technology. Instead of taking an image, shoppers can select “Virtual Try-on” and simply hold up the phone or tablet to their face. An image of the glasses superimposes on the customer’s face instantly, even showing different angles as the face turns.

While Warby Parker does have store locations, they tend to be in larger cities. The Virtual Try-on function is a nice alternative to their “Home Try-on” option, where customers can select five frames to be shipped, tried on, and returned for free.

One tester said: “This app took the stress out of trying to decide what type of eyeglasses to wear. In the past, my eye doctor has had me try them on after my eyes have been dilated and I couldn’t see very well. There is a very large selection of glasses and it makes it fun to buy glasses again.”



Augmented reality is changing the landscape of shopping for many customers. The convenience of trying items on or seeing them in a space when and where the shopper wants has become more important as people’s lives become busier. As the technology progresses, additional companies are sure to take advantage of this method of reaching customers.

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