Online glasses retailers have always been appealing to most people. The main reason is, price. Eyeglasses have blown out of proportion in terms of their pricing, and if you’re prescribed a certain index of eyeglasses, it’s bad news.
Best Price / Performance Option
Best Budget Option
But online retailers, since they adopt the direct-to-consumer business model, they can effectively cut down on the price. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no markup on the price whatsoever, and you’re getting the glasses straight from the manufacturer.
Two brands which often get noticed in this pool of online eyeglasses retailers are Warby Parker and Zenni. It can be hard to choose which one is more suitable for you though.
We put them under the microscope, and compared them side-by-side to see which is better!
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All You Need To Know
Are there any differences that stand out? Yes.
The first one being is the price range. Warby Parker is usually more expensive on average, but still affordable when compared to physical stores. On the other hand, Zenni is kind of the best budget option at the moment.
Their manufacturing techniques are different in terms of their frames, and there are obvious discrepancies between the two, which we will mention later on.
For now, all you need to know is that it’s now extremely convenient to shop online for eyeglasses or contact lenses. There’s a flexible return policy with both, and both offer some kind of ‘try-on’ method. For Zenni, you can try frames virtually using your phone, while Warby Parker allows you to get five frames and try them on at home.
Side-By-Side Comparison of Warby Parker & Zenni
So, what can you expect from both brands? Well, we wanted to some it up in a side-by-side comparison, before analyzing Warby Parker and Zenni further. In the table comparison below, we compare both online retailers on things which we think are important for anyone interested in eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Here’s a side-by-side table comparison of Warby Parker and Zenni:
|Warby Parker VS Zenni : Eyeglasses|
|Prescription Eyeglasses?||Yes (although, there are non-prescription lenses available)||Yes (although, there are non-prescription lenses available)|
|Lens’ Types||Single-vision, sunglasses, bifocal, high-index (1.67 and 1.74), and polycarbonate.||Single-vision, bifocal, sunglasses, progressive, and high-index (1.61, 1.67 and 1.74).|
|Price Range||Reasonably Priced – $$||Cheap – $|
|Frame Materials||Acetate, Metal, Titanium, Mixed, Nylon||Steel, titanium, acetate, and more.|
|Home Try-On||Yes (try 5 frames at home, free of charge)||No|
|Prescription Renewal Service||Yes||No|
|Return Policy||30 – day return policy||30 – day return policy|
|Recommendation Score||Very Recommended 5/5||Recommended 4/5|
So, there are obvious differences between both brands, but we expected this going into it. They’re at different price points, so it’s only natural that Warby Parker is a step ahead in multiple avenues.
We’ll elaborate on these differences even further, and what they mean for the end-user in the head-to-head battle, but first, the individual reviews.
Warby Parker Review
Warby Parker has a bit of a hybrid business model. Unlike Zenni, which is completely D2C, Warby Parker has physical store locations and a direct-to-consumer model. In fact, Warby Parker has almost 200 stores in the US? I think we’re at about 190 and counting!
There’s not much to say about Warby Parker really. It’s among the leading brands for eyeglasses, and contact lenses. They also have the option to do an exam in one of their locations.
Warby Parker is still less expensive than unreasonably priced brands on the market, and even though it’s much more expensive than Zenni, there are also obvious discrepancies.
Their frames are made from either acetate or metal, or a mixture of the two. It’s what most brands use for frames, and it gives you robustness and versatility. With that five frames try-on, you can effectively nail the perfect frames for yourself.
It would have been nice to have a virtual try-on as well, as I suspect not many would like to go through the hassle of getting eyeglasses at home, only to have to ship them back. It’s a nice feature either way, but also a virtual try-on will go a long way.
You’ve got: single-vision, progressives, readers, non-prescription, light-responsive, blue-light, and a couple more types of lenses. The lenses are made from polycarbonate, and after reading a handful of customer reviews, customers note that the lenses are pretty good, clear, and hold up the test of time.
The absolute best thing though is that you can renew your subscription from home, with a virtual Warby Parker test. You can also get a test even if you haven’t got a prescription, but for that, you’ll need to make your way to one of their locations.
Anyways, let’s review the pros and cons of Warby Parker:
- High-quality frames and lenses
- Home try-on (try five types of frames at home)
- Ability to renew prescription or get a new one
- Very rich repertoire (a lot of eyeglasses to choose from)
- Contact lenses available
I personally love Zenni. Eyeglasses should always be cheap, it’s something that’s a necessity for some of us. And, it seems like Zenni agrees.
They’re possibly one of the cheapest direct-to-consumer retailers for eyeglasses. They don’t have contact lenses yet, but if you’re in the market for eyeglasses, this is a very viable option.
Their frames are made of or a mixture of: steel, titanium, acetate, and other materials. They have a more budget-friendly way of manufacturing the frames, but they are very impressive for that price point nonetheless.
For lenses, you’re looking at: single-vision, sunglasses, progressive, bifocal, and high index (1.61, 1.67 and 1.74). They also have an addon option of a blue-light filter for those glued to their monitors, but they lack light responsive lenses.
Contrary to Warby Parker, Zenni don’t have any physical store locations. In addition, there’s no option to renew or get a prescription for vision correction eyeglasses. So, there are some things which you have to compromise on if you’re going with Zenni.
But the company has managed to have a stellar rating across thousands of customer reviews, which for direct-to-consumer brands, may be difficult.
The virtual try-on is a good feature definitely, but it isn’t ideal. If there was an option to try-on your frames at home, that would be the cherry on top. I know I said that for both Warby Parker’s home try-on and now Zenni’s virtual try-on, but the best is to have both options available to customers.
So, all in all a good value for money. What are Zenni’s pros and cons?
- Great value
- A lot of lens’ types
- Durable eyeglasses
- Stellar customer review rating
- No home try-on
- No contact lenses available
- Lack of a prescription renewal service
Head-To-Head Battle – Warby Parker VS Zenni
Without taking a step further, I would just like to say that there is a market for both brands. They’re unique in their own ways, and in many cases, what Warby Parker offers, Zenni doesn’t, and vice versa. Although, it’s more the case of the former rather than the latter.
Budget-wise, Zenni wins. It’s hard to see how they’ve managed to pull off such a reasonable price, but hey, it works. But there are compromises you will be making if you opt-in for Zenni instead of Warby Parker.
Now, they’re already clear, but to recap, here’s what you will be missing out on: polycarbonate lenses, higher quality frames, home try-on, contact lenses, and probably the most important of all- prescription renewal service.
Sure, there is an increase in quality if you go with Warby Parker, but the thing I’m most interested in after quality is prescription renewal. Warby Parker aren’t just glasses, it’s a service, an experience, convenience, you get the picture.
That’s not to say that you should avoid Zenni at all costs. If your budget allows it, in my opinion, there are a lot of advantages going with Warby Parker.
But if you’re on a tighter budget, that’s a whole different scenario. Zenni is amongst the leading budget-friendly eyeglasses retailers. And, if it fits your budget, which it will considering how cheap it is compared to conventional brands, it’s a pretty killer deal.
So, if you want the most budget-friendly option, go with Zenni. In all other cases, we think that Warby Parker is more superior, and should be considered.
Getting Your Frames Right
Warby Parker and Zenni have unique ways of ensuring that you find the perfect frames for yourself. We mentioned that one has home try-on, and one virtual one. But we’re talking about how easy it is to find the frames that are right for you, in the first place.
In the case of Warby Parker, you take a short quiz and answer questions, with which Warby Parker can determine which style, size, shape, or materials you frames should be.
It’s a fairly straightforward quiz, and it shouldn’t take that long to go through it.
With Zenni, you have the option to shop for frames based on your face shape or frame shape. Plus, they have a lot of information regarding frame sizes, and how to know if the particular frames in question will be good for you.
Zenni’s also got a quiz to make it more convenient, and a lot of people easily miss it, and we got to be honest it took us quite some time to find it.
This is all to say that in terms of online shopping for eyeglasses, especially at these two brands, is as easy as always, and very convenient.
The Verdict: Online Eyeglasses Retailers
If you’re in the market for eyeglasses these two just make sense. They’re both affordable and even cheap in Zenni’s case when compared to your normal conventional retailers, where they have to markup prices a couple of times.
Plus, it’s very convenient. No need to go anywhere you just order, and thanks to the try-on options, you have a lesser chance of getting your frames wrong.
Between the two, it’s a simple case of which price works for you. Zenni is cheaper, and therefore you should go with it if you’re on a tighter budget. On the other hand, Warby Parker is better, mainly because you have a lot more lenses to choose from, higher quality materials, more services like prescription renewal, and so on.
On average, both are better than many conventional retailers though.
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