November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Web 2.0 feature answers the question, “How do I look in these glasses?”

Online prescription eyeglass retailer’s new Wall of Frames social shopping feature lets friends and the community comment on virtual try-ons. has solved the problem of not knowing which eyeglass frames to choose by letting consumers enlist the opinion of friends, family and the site’s registered community. The San Jose, CA-based e-retail site, which launched in 2005, has added a new interactive tool that lets shoppers get instant feedback on how they look in different frames.

The interactive Wall of Frames coordinates with another tool originated by the web site, called EyeTry, which allows registered site users to upload photos of themselves and virtually try on different frames. Site users already could share those images by sending them to friends or family via e-mail or by posting them on the site; the new feature builds on that by allowing site users to get feedback on the posted photos from the site’s community.

“The web makes it possible to hear the opinions of the people we value most and the general public, which can feel much more genuine than the feedback of an in-store salesperson,” says EyeBuyDirect CEO Roy Hessel.

An eyeglass buyer selects a frame, enters a lens prescription onto the site, and places the order. The e-retailer charges about $20 per pair for many of its eyeglasses, no matter how complex the prescription, although sport and designer frames cost more. The company says it keeps prices down by selling online only, buying its frames directly from manufacturers and bypassing the most pricey branded designer frames. The site currently has a selection of about 300 frame styles and plans to add more at the rate of about 50 per month, according to the company.

Prescription lenses are produced and glasses assembled in the same headquarters facility, which avoids add-on market costs that contribute significantly to raising the cost of prescription eyeglasses produced and sold under traditional distribution models, according to the company.


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