How Zenni Optical Provides Quality, Stylish Prescription Glasses at a Fraction of the Cost of Most Brick-and-Mortar Eyeglass Retailers
3.31.17 Online Shopping

How Zenni Optical Provides Quality, Stylish Prescription Glasses at a Fraction of the Cost of Most Brick-and-Mortar Eyeglass Retailers

By: Sean Garrity

The Crunch: The process of purchasing prescription glasses can be an inconvenience and is certainly expensive — but it doesn’t have to be. Zenni Optical has simplified the way we buy glasses by conducting every aspect of frame and lens manufacturing in-house, thereby cutting out the middleman and passing on the savings to customers. Zenni’s low pricing allows customers to purchase several pairs of glasses for the cost of just one pair at most retailers. The whole process — from ordering to production and delivery — provides a convenient way for glasses wearers on any budget to get the eyewear they need without breaking the bank.

If you wear prescription eyeglasses, you’re well aware the process of visiting the optician, selecting the right frames, and waiting on your glasses to be produced is cumbersome and costly. But, because corrective lenses are a necessity for people with poor vision, putting this task off is not a viable option.

NerdWallet recently reported 80% of eye exams alone are priced at or just below $250 for an initial patient exam. Add in the cost of frames and lenses, and this can be a significant financial hardship for some families. Studies reveal that over a just a 12-year-period a family of five can spend more than $25,728 on eyewear purchased from brick-and-mortar retail outlets.

Photo of eyeglasses and Zenni Optical logo

Zenni’s low pricing allows customers to purchase several pairs of glasses for the cost of just one pair at most retailers.

Zenni Optical recognized this burden and provided a solution with its approach that allows consumers quick and convenient access to affordable and stylish eyewear. When purchasing glasses from Zenni, that same family of five can reduce the $25,728 cost down to only $668.

Zenni’s secret to low costs is in their process. By manufacturing their own product and teaching customers how to service their frames, Zenni is able offer quality eyewear at a fraction of the cost of the industry norm.

The Production Process: No Middle Man Equals Low Overhead

Much of the reason eyewear is so expensive is because of the extensive, complicated chain of production involved. Many retailers pay licensing fees to designer brand owners who design the frames. These fees are of course passed on to the customer.

Secondly, retailers obtain their products from a wholesale distributor, who of course purchases directly from the designer/manufacturer. Along this route, warehousing costs, distribution fees, rent for maintaining the physical store, and labor costs all accumulate and add to the overhead and, ultimately, to the price of the eyewear.

Photo of Zenni's manufacturing facility

Zenni’s low prices are largely due to the fact they manufacture their own product in their 248,000 square foot facility.

Zenni has completely eliminated this expensive line of middlemen and revolutionized how glasses are manufactured, distributed, and purchased. The company designs and makes all its frames and customizes them to patients’ prescriptions – all of which is done in-house within Zenni’s 248,000 square foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

Zenni’s team of skilled professionals designs fashion-forward frames by first creating the design using CAD software and then milling them in an automatic 5-Axis CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine. Once the frame is cut and polished, the prescription lab is ready to make lenses. Zenni’s lab is outfitted with the most advanced machinery available and handles literally every kind of prescription available, “including complex digital progressive surfaces.”

The edging lab is the final step in the manufacturing process. Accurate edging is the process that ensures the lens fits the frame, as well as making sure the accurate measurement of pupillary distance and segment height has been applied (more on that later). Then, each and every order is submitted to rigorous quality control checks and balances. Once this is done, the order is released for shipping.

This entire process means there is a clear path from Zenni’s lab to customers’ front doors, thereby eliminating any extra costs that are passed on when using traditional eyewear retailers.

A DIY Approach to Frame & PD Measurement Simplifies Shopping

To ensure people are happy with the look and fit of their glasses, Zenni empowers their customers to make measurements and adjustments as necessary. On Zenni’s site, there are extremely easy to follow instructions for determining measurements. If you’re already a glasses wearer, this part is easy, as Zenni provides guidance on determining frame width, lens height, lens width, etc.

Even if you’ve never worn glasses, Zenni still offers easy methods for determining these values. And, once the frame dimensions are locked in, it’s time to find the perfect pair.

Graphic depicting measuring pupillary distance

Zenni customers can avoid expensive visits to opticians and save money by measuring their own pupillary distance.

One of the most important measurements to consider when getting new glasses is pupillary distance or PD, which measures the space between the pupils. This distance is critical in ensuring your eyes match up with the optical center of your lenses. The measurement is simple to obtain by using a millimeter ruler and a mirror or a partner.

Zenni provides an entire set of tutorials to help you make any needed adjustments if you receive your glasses and they’re crooked or don’t fit quite right. There are specific instructions for frames that are sitting too low on your nose, pinching, and one lens being higher or further out than the other. These adjustments are easy to make, don’t affect the quality of your frame and save you time and money by keeping you out of the optician’s office.

Zenni also offers valuable advice for choosing a frame. One of the most important factors when choosing new eyewear is to consider the shape of your face. A frame should complement your natural facial features, not overly accentuate or hide them. On Zenni’s site, there is a handy chart featuring five face shapes coupled with frame suggestions for each, as well as frame shapes to avoid. All this is provided to ensure you end up with a complimentary frame that helps you look (and see) your best.

How-To Videos Ensure You Get the Most out of Your Glasses

Another way Zenni supports its customers is through the how-to videos featured on its website. The videos provide a visualization discussed in their instruction materials, like measuring your pupillary distance and making adjustments.

Other How-To topics include demonstrations of different sunglasses tints, replacing lenses in full and half rim frames, and how to choose and order mirrored sunglasses. All of the videos housed on the site mirror Zenni’s fundamental goal — to help customers save money on eyewear.

Zenni’s site has a thorough help and FAQ section. And customers with questions or who need additional help can call the company and connect with representatives who are available to assist seven days per week.

Customers Love the Convenience and Savings Zenni Offers

Customer testimonials magnify just how cost-effective and efficient Zenni’s approach is. These customers speak to Zenni’s affordability and fast, exceptional customer service. Dennis’ comment from 2014 is likely the most substantive, telling comment offered:

Super satisfied. I have never had a bad order from ZENNI. They are one of the greatest companies on the Internet to deal with” he said. “Easy ordering, fast shipping and complete satisfaction, you will love them…especially the prices.”

Because of the quality products, comprehensive customer service, and — most importantly — low costs, Zenni sells nearly 12,000 pairs of glasses every day.

Zenni believes glasses should never be a source of financial anxiety. And the company ensures anyone requiring prescription eyewear can get them without breaking the bank.