Rivet & Sway makes online eyewear shopping easy for women

Mission:

Rivet & Sway is an online prescription eyewear retailer
based out of Seattle, WA. Before you say “Isn’t Warby Parker the same thing,
and more popular?” you should know that Rivet & Sway isn’t going after the
same market. Instead of 20-something hipsters, the company is exclusively
targeting women. And while Warby Parker sells its frames at the bargain price
of $95, Rivet & Sway is openly positioning itself as a premium purchase. All
the frames are priced at $199.

The company was founded by John Lusk in 2011, after his
research identified several pain points for women shopping for eyewear. “We
found that women absolutely hated the prescription eyewear shopping
experience,” says Lusk. “They rated it 1.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.” This was
mostly due to the length of the shopping process, which, on average took almost
a month and required trips to multiple stores before they found the right
purchase. Lusk says there also wasn’t much of a selection available, with most
frames being unisex or looking too similar to each other.

How it works:

With Rivet & Sway, Lusk, who now operates as the company’s
chief marketing officer wants to make the process of buying prescription
eyewear as painless as possible, even make it fun.

He first had to create a
premium brand identity because he found that with women, lower priced eyewear
often raised a credibility issue. “They weren’t willing to pay super cheap
prices online,” says Lusk, “A lower price was equated with lower quality.” This
allowed the company to raise the price to $199 and keep it the same across all
the products, without charging extra for anything else. “We found women don’t
mind paying a higher price for the product, but they don’t like being nickel
and dimed with extra charges, such as shipping, prescription and manufacturing
charges.”

The purchase process starts with a customer checking out the
selection of frames through the website. They can submit a picture of their
face or arrange a Skype session with one of Rivet & Sway’s online
consultants. According to the customer’s preferences and facial features, the
experts then choose three frames to send to them, which they can try on and
keep for three days (i.e. ideally post pictures on their Facebook or blog to
get feedback) before choosing the one they like best. After making a choice,
the frames can be mailed back at no cost in a labeled USPS envelope already
provided by Rivet & Sway, along with prescription instructions. The customer
receives their brand new frames within 11 days on average.

Marketing/Communications:

As can be expected from a fashion/apparel company, Rivet & Sway has a heavy social media presence, especially on visual platforms such as
Pinterest and Instagram. However, Lusk says the company’s marketing efforts
have achieved their greatest impact on good old fashioned Facebook. “We’ve experienced
exponential growth on Facebook over the last year,” he says, most of it the
result of a recent investment in ads on the platform. “While we do occasionally
get a spike in hits on other platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, those
are much harder to measure, and repeat consistently.”

One of the other big investments Lusk has made has been to
hire a creative team to generate engaging, highly visual content for The Perch,
the company’s online, magazine-style blog. “One of my earliest hires was a
creative director, followed by several designers and copywriters.” Another
focus has been high quality fashion photography. “Initially we focused on
pictures of everyday women, but then it became too everyday,” says Lusk. “Our
customers were telling us ‘I want to see something I can really aspire to.” And
so, the pictures became more glam, and the photography more creative, which
lends itself well to the new, larger pictures for Facebook page posts. “Big visuals
means big impact,” says Lusk. That doesn’t mean regular women don’t get
featured at all, the company’s Facebook page has several women uploading
pictures of themselves posing with their choice of frames, asking fellow
followers to help them decide.

Another engagement tactic is to run a contest on social
media every week. Rivet & Sway does it on Facebook in the form of a riddle or
an “eye spy” question, with the answer usually being the name of one of frames
in the collection. Followers can comment on the post with their answers and the
winner is eligible for discounts on the products.

Currently, Tailwind PR handles Rivet & Sway’s
communications.

Future

Lusk says the company is moving forward with a program to
recruit brand evangelists or a “Sway Team” to market the product for them. The
company has already received favorable coverage from many online influencers, including social media mavens, lifestyle and fashion blogs and even mommy
bloggers
. The goal is to recruit them to evangelize the product, along with
either a monetary or merchandise incentive. Lusk says in one instance, a woman
from Austin, Texas loved the company’s service so much; she independently made
a video about them, which helped sell almost $10,000 worth of frames.

The company might also approach enthusiastic customers, such
as women who have bought three or more pairs from the company to be part of the
brand evangelist team. 

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