Being as blind as a bat and having a particularly small head, is an affliction I would not wish on anyone.

As someone who lives with this problem daily, I can tell you, one of the primary downsides is glasses shopping. At least once a year I spend way too much time trying to find glasses in a world of glasses made for people with big heads.  This year is no different. And, after spending some effort online to research what the cool kids are wearing, I realised again (and it happens every year) shopping for frames on a website can only take me so far – oh and darn my painfully small skull.

So last night, I hit up some stores in Westfield Valley Fair to try on frames. Unfortunately, after much ado, I could only find one pair that suited me. They were at the LensCrafters store.

I have to say from the outset, the team at LensCrafters were amazing from the minute I walked in. A lovely team member fawned over me, whilst trotting about with a little “yes/maybe glasses holding box”. By the time we made it over to his desk – it was piled high with small headed options. After some mulling and commentary from other people in the store – who we roped in for input – we narrowed down to a single ideal pair.

And this is where things got interesting and why I think you should care about this tale.

The young sales chap explained to me that there was a sale on – a full 50% off lenses when you buy a frame. He had me right there and then. You see, my last glasses buying experience cost well over $800 after insurance rebates. Thank you Tom Ford and bad genetics. So, in fear of spending another small fortune, I asked how much these fancy Armani frames were. They came in at $310 and the lenses came in at $350.

“Woohoo” I chanted, “without the discount and insurance I am ahead of the game”. He looked at me a little oddly – he didn’t know about last year. I was hooked.

The next step was vanity. I sent him off to speak with his lab tech about determining if I would have coke bottle bases for glasses or something more subtle. He took some time to get back to me and out of habit, I reached into my pocked and popped out my phone. The battery was low after a day of very little useage. So, with my 7% battery power left and what I thought would be seconds until the nice chap returned, I decided to sneak a quick look online for the frames. I found them and not only were they there but they were on average 45% cheaper.

Needless to say my phone died. But, here is the rub, I was in the store for 45mins. The service was amazing. It was brimming with people being served. But I didn’t see one sale. Don’t get me wrong, lots of people took down style numbers, but no one bought anything! And now with my new found knowledge in hand I wasn’t going to be a sucker and over pay.  So I did the same thing as those before me – I left with a style number and a feeble promise to return.

I am not a value based shopper by any stretch of the imagination. I am more than happy to pay a premium for a good experience. But I can’t in good conscience spend extra money on frames if I know the actual price out there in the world wide web is 45% less. So I decided to take the matter up with the store management. After multiple calls and me agreeing to discuss my thoughts that they were falsely inflating prices to bring them down in a sale somewhere else, the store agreed to match the price. Lets hope all the effort to get them on board doesn’t make me crossed eyed!

Ultimately though regardless of my tale – retail shopping is clearly under threat from technology. Now, I know that is not an epiphany of massive magnitude, especially to any astute folk out there, but how will stores survive as mobile technology advances even further forward? Price matching should be the norm rather than exception – sure take into account shipping etc etc – but at the base of it if you want my business, there will be a cost to you!

However, I for one can’t see bricks and mortar stores just matching prices and moving on at a loss.
They will have to evolve – but how. Any ideas out there?

Here is a freeby for LensCrafters or anyone else that cares – open an optical store with a 3D printer and sell custom specs.