Ditto Provides Online Fitting for Existing Eyewear Brands

Source: Businessweek, Aug 2012

Of the 68.4 million eyeglasses purchased in the U.S. in past year, only 2.7 percent were through online retailers, according to the Vision Council, an industry trade group. LensCrafters’ senior vice president of marketing, Gita Chari Mattes, says most shoppers go online to browse frames but still prefer shopping in-store.

Ditto partners with 20 eyewear brands, such as Ray-Ban and Persol. Shoppers can try on hundreds of frames in videos of themselves, using their webcams. Prices are comparable to brick-and-mortar stores. “We can coexist, and we will—whether [retail chains] like it or not,” says Kate Endress, who launched Ditto in April with former engineers from Google (GOOG) and Nokia (NOK) and has raised $3 million. “Certain people want to buy online, but there’s always a place for a retail location.”

“Consumers are ready to be doing most of their shopping online, and giving people the exact size and a much bigger selection is going to be the big differentiator,” says Endress.

Other traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are integrating virtual try-on options on their websites: Shoppers visiting J.C. Penney’s (JCP) JCP Optical can upload a photo to model frames. TOMS Shoes offers a similar feature for its eyewear line. And while Luxottica’s chains haven’t added online try-ons yet, LensCrafters last year installed in-store simulators.

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