mattgadient.com

Updating the Eyeglass Retailer Reviews retailers… part 2

Continuing from yesterday’s post

(as a reminder, the taglines are meant in a tounge-in-cheek sort of way. And the “suggestions” are just based on what I see & assume which may or may not be correct)

 

 

Goggles4u

Their tagline: eyewear super store
My tagline: Historically recognized for mailing in cloth bags instead of paper envelopes.

Back in the day, any Goggles4u review you might come across was instantly recognizable because it always started with “so this was the cloth envelope…” often accompanied by a story of the mailman having an uneasy look when handling it. Goggles4u was based in Pakistan, and that was… well… just the way they mailed things there. A side effect: it built massive brand awareness.

Since then, Goggles4u has changed quite a bit. They moved some of their operations to the US, instead of all glasses hitting a $30 grand total they now vary in price, and their website has come a long way from the old hodge-podge variant. It now has a clean, sleek feel to it.

They’ve got over 3000 frames in the under-$20 region, though a number of them are duplicates but in a different color or slightly different frame size. Personally I think once you get above.. oh, say the 50-frame mark it’s probably wise to start combining and then add an option for the color and size.

In any case, if you wanted to spend your day browsing low-cost frames, the Goggles4u website might help you out there. Aside from a “please chat with us” window floating across the screen on me twice in a row, I found the browsing experience pleasant (albeit overwhelmingly long). Once you find a frame you like, the rest of the process is nice and quick.

The cheap basic frames/lenses (1.57 index) hit $12 total after shipping which matches Zenni. Bi-focals hit $37 which is $9 more than Zenni but get you thinner lenses. You can get a few designer brands (Calvin Klein, Converse, D&G for instance) for about $71 total after shipping.

They’ve really stayed competitive in the “race to the bottom” price area, essentially neck-and-neck when it comes to price. And like Zenni they’ve managed to pull off an A+ rating with BBB accreditation.

My suggestions for them:

  • start combining some of those frames and use a selection box for color/size.

my Goggles4u review
the Goggles4u information page

Goggles4u screenshot Feb 2013
Goggles4u screenshot Feb 2013

Eyeglass Direct

Their tagline: contemporary eyewear factory direct prices
My tagline: not really competing in the online discount arena anymore….

The EyeglassDirect website really feels like an online outlet for their physical store. I say this for 2 reasons:

  • they’re not competing online price-wise
  • you don’t even see the prices until you’ve selected a frame, color, and lens type (mimicking a typical in-store appearance where you find glasses you like and then have too look closer for the price tag).
  • one of the shipping options is for local pick-up at their store ($0)

I sense that the site’s current purpose is to give an online presence to the physical store (and another available outlet for their customers).

Cheapest frames (when you finally find the price) hit about $33 after shipping. AR coating is a whopping $28. Their actual offerings resemble those of 39DollarGlasses (give or take a couple dollars), though the EyeglassDirect selection is lower.

My suggestions for them:

  • if you’re looking to increase online exposure, listing prices beside each frame is going to keep people from hitting “back” so quickly. Then again, if the site primarily exists to serve local customers, it may be fine as-is.

the Eyeglass Direct information page

Eyeglass Direct screenshot Feb 2013
Eyeglass Direct screenshot Feb 2013

 

 

SpecsOnTheNet

Their tagline: prescription glasses direct from the laboratory
My tagline: We list our glasses in 13 currencies – that’s more than the number of frames we currently sell in most categories!

Either the SpecsOnTheNet site is bugging out hard, or their frame selection has dwindled drastically. It looks like they only offer 17 frames. Total. 6 Metal, and 17 Plastic.

9 of those are between $36-$40 (based on current currency exchange), with the remainder being designer brands in the $100-150 range.

To add to the craziness, the site is fully-featured. Heck, when it came time to estimate shipping, it automatically (and accurately) detected my location as being in Canada (despite selecting a US currency).

I am befuddled. It would be like if somebody created a web store as powerful as Amazon’s and only listed a couple dozen items. Does not compute.

My suggestions for them:

  • increase your offerings
  • increase your offerings
  • increase your offerings

the Specs On The Net information page

Specs On The Net screenshot Feb 2013
Specs On The Net screenshot Feb 2013

 

SelectSpecs

Their tagline: Prescription Glasses & Sunglasses
My tagline: We’re popular. You just haven’t heard of us.

I have to say, I was a little wow’ed this time around.

One of the advantage of not-being-in-the-US for companies is that you tend to have an easier time looking at things from the perspective of non-US customers. Examples being currencies, shipping, etc. In fact, I noticed some time ago that the UK-based companies all had currency exchange in mind. And international shipping had generally been well thought out.

So currency converter: check. Standard rate shipping: check.

Beyond that, the SelectSpecs site has a unique design/layout to it – nothing drastically different from the other sites, but it’s clear that (at the risk of stealing an American Idol reference) they “made it their own”.

For offerings, at the low end they have a number of frames where you’re looking at $24 total shipped worldwide (AR coating is free). Bifocals add $27.

Currency converter works and appears to automatically detect your currency via your current location. The site is well laid out although during the order process, some pictures could help a little – if I don’t know what the difference between Bifocal and Varifocal is, I’m not educated as I go along.

It also doesn’t mention the price difference on the “your glasses” page, so if I only want Varifocals if they’re not much more than Bifocals, my instinct is to choose one, back up, and then choose the other to figure out the price difference myself. To be fair, they have an excellent “lens price list” link in the side (and the charts list literally any price you would want to know), but just a slight bit of guidance on the “your glasses” page would be helpful. In addition, if some lens types aren’t available (round segment bifocals for example), you don’t find out until after you’ve plopped in your prescription – it should remove the item from this page instead.

Moving on to the prescription page, they added a very clever option for those unsure about their PD. First, they have a popup that includes a YouTube video. But if that isn’t enough, they have included an option in the PD dropdown to send your your current glasses to them so that *they* can take the PD reading from your old pair. If you were going to throw your old glasses out anyway, it’s free. If you want the old glasses mailed back to you afterwards, it’s 5 pounds (about $8USD at current exchange rates).

The next page, where you choose the lenses… they mention which “sun lens” options you’ll be able to choose beside each lens. This could all be done on 1 page mind you with dynamic selection boxes & drop downs (including the Single/Bi/Vari mentioned previously), but they’ve gone their own way here.

They’ve managed to pull a high number of reviews on their products, are active on social media, and… well as I indicated with the tagline, they’re fairly popular. I suspect most of their popularity comes from Europe, but there’s no reason that someone from North America shouldn’t consider them.

As a final note, they’ve pushed out a huge selection of name brand designer frames. Some of the cheaper brands start at just over $100 (much of the Guess and Ray-Ban lines for example), with others like CK and Oakley tending to clock in around the $150 mark.

My suggestions for them:

  • the site appears to supports multiple colors for a frame (with a selection dropdown), yet instead frames are listed multiple times for each color. Start combining and using the feature you have.
  • if a certain lens style won’t be available (rounded bi-focal for example), remove it from the list. It’s annoying to fill out your prescription details and *then* see it isn’t available for your frame.

my Select Specs review
the Select Specs information page

Select Specs screenshot Feb 2013
Select Specs screenshot Feb 2013

Eyeglass Factory Outlet

Their tagline: Discount Prescription Eyeglass Lenses & Frames for Women, Men and Kids
My tagline: Our AR coating is more expensive than our frames.

Located in the upper-end of the discount range, the EyeglassFactoryOutlet site is just kind of…. “there”.

This is going to sound mean, but there’s nothing really going for their site. The site itself is trendy/clean/functional, and they have a healthy selection, but there’s nothing that makes it competitive with the other online retailers. Normally I’d suspect this is a situation like Eyeglass Direct where it’s an online presence for the store front, but the only address they list is for a PO box. Maybe they’re advertising on TV in the local market to compete with local retailers…? I can only guess.

They have an F rating with the BBB – 2 complaints that went unanswered (really, you couldn’t address 2 complaints!?). They did put in an effort to revamp the site some time ago – my old review mentioned that the focus seemed to be on their eBay store and it has changed drastically since then (in fact, they had contacted me to mention it changed ownership and had changed).

They’d made efforts on social media some time ago, though that appears to have run it’s course.

My suggestions for them:

  • if the site is a resource for physical store customers, you might want to have the physical address mentioned somewhere.
  • AR coating is much too expensive. If there’s a reason the quality of your coating deserves to be that high, you need to make it abundantly evident.
  • really, you need something that makes you stand out or gives you an edge. Thus far I can’t see anything that you offer that other retailers don’t have, and they have a leg up in most areas.

the Eyeglass Factory Outlet information page

Eyeglass Factory Outlet screenshot Feb 2013
Eyeglass Factory Outlet screenshot Feb 2013

 

Choice Eyewear (formerly known as LBW eyewear)

Their tagline: Your Online Optical Store
My tagline: My eyes! The goggles do nothing! (Simpson’s reference)

Formerly known as LBW eyewear the site was changed to Choice Eyewear in 2011. Whether they forgot to renew their original domain or eventually decided just to stop registering it, the old site is now a parked page of ads.

The current color scheme is simply brutal. I’m not against a stark purple-pink color, but it really covers up the black text in the header, and with the rest of the color scheme makes the site look extremely tacky. There’s no real consistency in the site design. That’s not to say that I’d do much better (design is not my strength), but nearly every other retailer trounces these guys in design.

Prices are quite reasonable, with a fair number of frames available in the $13-and-under region (about $20 shipped).

Not much else to say… everything is functional, decent information is provided, frame color picker works well enough… the presentation just keeps reminding me of the Windows 95 / GeoCities days.

My suggestions for them:

  • First impressions are important. Change the template, modify some colors, try to keep a unified look, and add padding to a number of areas that seem to press up into their borders (headings and sidebars for instance).

the Choice Eyewear information page

Choice Eyewear screenshot Feb 2013
Choice Eyewear screenshot Feb 2013

 

 

Global Eyeglasses

Their tagline: focused on saving you money
My tagline: Not the most polished site, but doing something right.

Despite having a lot of minor little quirks with the website (selection buttons not perfectly aligned with text, a lack of padding in some areas), Global Eyeglasses doesn’t seem to be having a problem obtaining customers.

Actually, first impressions of their site don’t have me putting it in the A-list. The site is easy enough to use, with a lot of information provided but in certain areas some things seem clumped/cluttered, and there are of course the little formatting issues I mentioned. Frame selection is good but not massive by any means, and price sorting is as basic as it gets. That said, they’ve been aggressive with sales and have kept busy with social media. All indications are that they’ve been growing.

Not thrilled about the extra charge for UV, and an AR coating is $10. Without those, a grand total after shipping tends to hit about $25 (or $44 for bifocals), which sits in the lower-mid range of the discount area.

My suggestions for them:

  • site is in good shape, but could use slight bits of polish. Get a perfectionist in there to take a look.
  • charging for a UV coating is not thrilling.
  • AR coating seems a little high unless there’s a particular reason it’s worth it.

the Global Eyeglasses information page

Global Eyeglasses screenshot Feb 2013
Global Eyeglasses screenshot Feb 2013

 

Great Eyeglasses

Their tagline: High Quality Prescription Eyeglasses
My tagline: Our site is modelled after a 60’s diner.

A fun deviation from other retailer designs, Great Eyeglasses has gone for a very unique look. Between the color scheme, design, and fonts, it really does remind me of the 60’s look. Not everything manages to keep that consistent look (prescription menus for instance are regular old drop-down lists), but all in all they’ve done a good job of integrating everything they can.

The little help popup for lens options doesn’t work, but beyond that things seem to work and flow well with the theme.

By default, the cheapest frames are shown first (and there are a lot of them), gradually moving up in price a few pages later. It doesn’t feel like you’re being force-fed the expensive stuff first, which is a bit of a treat.

My suggestions for them:

  • No checkout as guest…. not a fan.

the Great Eyeglasses information page

Great Eyeglasses screenshot Feb 2013
Great Eyeglasses screenshot Feb 2013

 

MyGlasses

Their Tagline: The leader in selling cheap eyeglasses, eyeglass frames with…
My tagline: We’re not a fan of bifocal/progressive customers.

We’ll start with the mean-sounding stuff.

The site feels aged, and the interface is clunky. Frame prices start at $0 (with the lenses being what cost) which doesn’t really flow well because you’re just guessing at the price ballpark until you’ve gone far enough to select a lens.

If there’s a way to show frames that are compatible with bi-focal/progressive lenses, I didn’t see it. It took multiple attempts, choosing a frame & entering a prescription before I found one that showed bifocal/progressive lens availability. A couple more attempts and I would have just plain given up and assumed they don’t sell them.

They do sell a number of designer frames as well, but prices tend to be higher than other discount retailers (and that’s before adding the cost of the lens).

Mouseover popups have good information, but the popover text doesn’t disappear on it’s own – you have to click elsewhere on the page to make it go away.

Lenses are called “Basic/Good/Better/Best” which in reality relate to the thickness of the lens. The mouseover popups provide some information here (when they’re not being annoying), but for further details you’re directed to the allaboutvision website. That just doesn’t inspire confidence.

The “cheap” AR coating is $22 with 3 more expensive AR coatings offered, capping at $75. At $22 I’d be expecting a pretty darn good AR coating already.

To top it all off, I got a browser warning about the security as I popped to the checkout page.

For the good… information is there, and by default they’re showing the cheaper frames. A basic set of single-vision frames/lenses is running a total of about $34 after shipping which is reasonable. And anti-scratch appears to be included free (unless it’s just not included at all, but hopefully that’s not the case).

In any case, the whole experience was just leaving me frustrated.

My suggestions for them:

  • go with a basic frame price (with free lenses). I know I’m always screaming “be unique” but this is being unique by being less up-front and clear.
  • the website looks like a very cheap, very old shopping cart CMS. I’d go for something newer.
  • that AR coating is on the pricey side.
  • not a fan of the basic/good/better/best for lens materials/indexes. Yes I know it can be good to shield the customer from complex terms, but they see those terms on every other retailer’s site, so this might be a time when it’s better to help give them a consistent online experience.

the My Glasses information page

My Glasses screenshot Feb 2013
My Glasses screenshot Feb 2013

 

 

…and done! Next step is to start translating all my notes to the individual retailer pages on the EGRR site. For anyone watching that site, expect updates to take place over the course of the next few days.

  • E. Hofmann

    Hi Matt, I always orderered from clearlycontacts.ca, and was pretty happy with them. I was wondering why they werent’ in your review. Did you have a bad experience with them, or are they simply too small?

    I’m in Canada as you are (I think) and so I didn’t have to worry about currency exchange or shipping or customs.

    I’m about to order a new set and wanted your view of how they compare to the places you reviewed in your article.

    Thanks for any thoughts.

    • ClearlyContacts.ca is just the Canadian branch of Coastal.com (actually, if you order from coastal.com, there’s a chance they’ll ship it from ClearlyContacts in BC). I’ve ordered from them in the past, and haven’t had issues. Because it’s a sister site (and Canadian-oriented which certainly wouldn’t help UK/US visitors), I haven’t listed them separately.

      I do have a short blurb about them under the “Coastal” section of the site.

      Glad to hear you’ve been happy with them!

  • E. Hofmann

    Hi Matt, a few more thoughts.

    Started shopping again…Now I need progressives. Went onto clearly contacts, and the lenses are a minimum of $150…So with frames, coatings, etc, I was closing in on the $300 mark. Checked out coastal.com and its about the same thing.

    Then checked Zenni. The prices are much less expensive. It looks like its possible to get a set of progressives for about $30, almost a factor of 10 less than clearlycontacts. Of course its not an apples to apples comparison, but the point is with clearlycontacts, its simply not possible to get, even the cheapest pair of progressives for 300. For 30, as with Zenni, I’m totally willing to take the risk of buying without trying on (vs 300).

    The other point, more question, was, whats the summary of all your research. In other words, where did you buy your last glasses, or where will you buy your next glasses?

    Thanks again!

    • A summary would be a little tough (it actually sounds like you’re aiming for more of a recommendation). Retailers each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and each tend to appeal to different people. I try not to make specific recommendations for that reason – I provide the information I can, and hopefully that aids in people making their own decision based on their own needs.

  • Terry

    Hi Matt
    Nice compilation, thanks. I haven’t read all your reviews but you don’t seem to mention anything about the field of view of the lenses of different companies. I ordered from Clearly Contacts here in Canada twice and it turns out I can’t get used to the small FOV (corridor, I think it’s called). I feel really claustrofobic. I will be sending them back soon. I then ordered from Zenni and find the corridor much wider and they aren’t bad at all. I would order again. Then there’s my local optometrist office I ordered from also. Well, that was a nightmare. From February to June it took to get glasses worth wearing (Pentax lenses only, not many others seem to like that brand). Anyway the FOV with the Pentax is the best so far but I will not be going back to that optometrist. I have found a new one already. Let me know if you have commented about the FOV so I can read more reviews.

  • There is also Warby but they are kind of expensive imo. 🙂