Warby Parker Gives Transparent Look Through Its Lenses with Interactive Annual Report


Online eyewear retailer Warby Parker is keeping up its reputation for disruptive innovation—first in eyewear e-commerce and now in its annual report, whose third rendition recounts every single day at the company in the last year.  

Like a virtual advent calendar, the interactive report lets users choose any day in 2013 and see what was accomplished that day, such as: Aug. 12, the release of its first commercial; May 24, when half the inventory for a new collection was delivered to the wrong address; and July 9, when the company counted that it has given away 500,000 pairs of glasses since its launch in 2010.

The entire report was put together in-house and originally inspired by one of the company’s junior designers. “He put together an infographic of his personal life in the past year and we thought, wow, that’s really interesting,” co-founder Neil Blumenthal told Ad Age.[more]

The report is categorized into eight categories, such as ‘Class trip,’ ‘Culture,’ and ‘Milestones,’ along with ‘Data,’ which includes information bites such as “66 percent of Warby Parker employees use earbuds rather than headphones to listen to music.”

But the most captivating feature of the report is its transparency—something not easily found in the corporate world, even at a blossoming startup. “Often, I think the mentality of corporate America is, ‘What is the absolute minimum amount of information I can share with the general public?'” said Blumenthal. “But we found the more information we share, the better the company does.” 

In fact, it had a direct impact on sales. Blumenthal told Ad Age that the release of the annual reports corresponded with the company’s biggest sales and traffic days. “We find the more information we share, the more vulnerable we are, and that sharing the positive and the warts—the deeper relationship we build with our customers.”

The company, which capitalized on the “one for one” movement started by TOMS Shoes, is in line with one of the biggest themes at this week’s National Retail Federation annual trade show taking place in New York. Corporate responsibility and transparency among retailers both big and small was a driving point in Blake Nordstrom’s keynote at the conference taking place this week in New York. 

Plenty of others approve of the eyewear retailers approach as well, as the company just raised another $60 million from current investors last month. As of now, an IPO doesn’t seem to be in the framework.