Lenskart, the Indian start-up which has gone to become a name to reckon with in the eyewear retail segment has opened its newest store at the Sahara Center in Sharjah. This is the company’s 9th location in the UAE.
There are an estimated 40,000 spectacle retail shops in India. Over 90% of them are run by Optometrists and are usually family managed. The 3-year Under graduation course has been a preferred option for thousands of students as it is the stepping stone for them to become an Entrepreneur in the future. After the course, the students either join the Ophthalmology Department of a renowned hospital or sometimes even work for Ophthalmologist Doctors. Later on with the experience gained, they open their own stores which requires minimal capital and mostly cater to the immediate neighbourhood community.
Lenskart came to prominence in India when another homegrown start-up Flipkart was in the news raising funds every few months to fuel its e-commerce aspirations. It could be rightly said that Lenskart was India’s first e-commerce led eyewear retail company. Users could visit their website and using the front camera of the laptop or mobile phone, choose the frames per their choice which suited their face using Artifical Intelligence (AI). Later, the company would fit the prescription lens at their factory and ship it to the customer.
Lenskart also pioneered the now popular omni-channel distribution model. Instead of shipping to customers directly one by one, the company would ship the finished goods to its stores across India and the local teams would then ship it to customers nearby, thereby building a longstanding relationship with them. The staff would also encourage customers to visit the store for any further support required, which endeared many, over time. This also ensured that Lenskart was seen as a credible neighbourhood retailer, than an e-commerce site.
Lenskart operates in the fiercely competitive eyewear retail segment and dominates with over 1,000 stores in India and abroad. Titan’s EyePlus operates over 450+ stores while Chennai-based Specsmakers operates around 270 stores. Reliance Vision Express comes a fourth with 175+ outlets. Thereafter, regional chains such as GKB, Lawrence & Mayo, etc. operate around 50 stores each.
Lenskart has built a formidable business model in the prescriptive spectacle business. A couple of years ago, the company started to focus more on offline retail and tilted its business model accordingly. The company forayed in to international expansion from 2021 onwards with a new store in Singapore followed by the Middle East.