Warby Parker has a new competitor in Archibald Optics.
Archibald was launched in London last year, and now has entered the U.S. market.
Warby is the midrange option, while Archibald targets the higher-end, luxury consumer base. Warby’s plastic frames and prescription lenses are priced at $95, while its metal frame options plus lenses, including plastic and metal combination frames, are $145. Archibald’s prescription options for plastic frames from acetate average $225 and can go as high as $300 for titanium metal frames that incorporate sunglass lenses.
The online eyewear space is competitive, and not all are able to survive. Rivet & Sway, which opened in March 2011 and raised more than $3 million in funding, closed its doors last month. The e-tailer offered prescription pairs initially at $199 each, and later at $169. It also followed the business model of allowing customers to try on a few pairs at home before deciding on which one to buy. Sources said the firm was hampered by the cost structure connected with acquiring customers, as well as related expenses for shipping frames back and forth for the try-on period.
Another competitor in the field is Coastal.com, which targets the value customer and has an average order around $100. Coastal was acquired in February for $401 million by French optical firm Essilor International SA.
While Warby is well-capitalized — it has raised $115.5 million since launching in May 2011, including the $60 million raised in Series C funding in December — the company has also shifted its model to include 15 physical locations in select cities. That’s a move similar to what a few other e-tail start-ups are doing: Bonobos launched on the Internet in 2007 and has since opened off-line e-commerce showrooms and inked a partnership in select Nordstrom doors, while BaubleBar has a pseudo-showroom shop called The Bar by BaubleBar that’s open by appointment, pop-up bars in more than 30 Nordstrom doors and a monthly collection that’s sold exclusively at Anthropologie stores. Market sources said the move off-line helps lower customer acquisition costs.
Archibald’s chief executive officer Rohan Dhir remains undaunted by the pressures connected with customer acquisition and learning a new marketplace. He’s eyeing expansion into Japan, Canada, China and Southeast Asia.
Archibald has raised $5 million in seed funding from its original angel investors. He’ll likely start fund-raising for round two in a few months, seeking investors that can provide knowledge and funding to help take the company global.
According to Dhir, the company works with a manufacturing facility in Fukui, Japan to produce the eyewear.
“It takes 10 to 12 days to receive the order from the time one sends in the final selection,” he said.
The ceo noted that he’s already received interest from potential U.S. and Asian investors for the second round of fund-raising, and plans to expand next in Japan before the end of the year.
He’s also planning on opening a pop-up store in Singapore, where government approval is not required. In the U.S., “FDA approval is required” before you can sell prescription eyewear, Dhir said.