Everyone who wears glasses or lenses is well aware of the struggle involved in physically shopping for the same. A lot of patience and time is tested while going through the whole arduous process of taking out time to visit the optician, selecting suitable frames, checking out varying styles, choosing the glasses and then finally being made to wait a couple days to receive our customised glasses. We’re all long past the days where we had the time or energy to undergo this tedious process to get our hands on our eyewear accessories.
Presenting a solution to these struggles emerged Lenskart, the dominant eyewear business of India. This platform has played a pivotal role in streamlining the routine of purchasing eyewears and has largely revolutionized the jumbled eyewear industry.
This business initially began as an online platform providing contact lenses, and later on extended to incorporate prescription glasses as well as sunglasses in its collection. Have you ever wondered about the journey behind this platform and how it reached its present day position?
Through this blog, we will provide you a gist about the platform of Lenskart, about its founders, its business model, its funding, its success story, its origin, as well as its growth.
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Lenskart is an e-commerce platform which specialises in eyewear accessories. The platform operates in both online and offline distribution modes, offering its customers the liberty to purchase products either online or through their exclusive offline stores. The company facilitates a range of services such as home eye checkups. Lenskart recently earned the unicorn company status towards the end of 2019.
As of now the platform has over 5,000 styles of frames and a range of different kinds of lenses. It manufactures, assembles, distributes, and supplies its products across 460 stores across India. The platform’s parent company is Valyoo Technologies. It’s portfolio ranges from a wide assortment of eyewear products which include specs, goggles, sunglasses, reading glasses, computer glasses, contact lens, frames, anti-glares as well as eye accessories.
“I think our biggest bet was making consumers see this as fashion and not just medical, and that was a fundamental shift for consumers,”
- Peyush Bansal to Your Story
Addressing the issue of only a limited number of people using spectacles out of all the people that need them, the platform emphasizes on raising awareness regarding eye care and the necessity of vision testing. Lenskart presently carries out 15,000 eye tests each day. Its objective is to provide affordable eyeglasses while simultaneously ensuring that they are also of optimum quality as well as fashionable.
In a TechCrunch article, the platform has also stated that it witnesses a great degree of potential within the Indian nation particularly in the rural areas which have a dearth of trained optometrists. As an effort to reduce the resistance, the platform offers free eye inspection tests for its potential consumers. Along with this it also allows users to book a couple of glasses and try out them at their homes before actually making a purchase. Alongside stores, the platform also has a strong digital presence. It permits users to purchase from its online listed collection, while also allowing them to return, exchange as well as virtually try out the items.
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“You can’t be good with average because the world is all about surprising customers, (with) excellence, delight, and raising the bar; this is what the world has become. It’s not at all about what others are doing, it’s about breaking your own standards every time and just bringing that element of joy and ‘wow’ in the lives of your customers and employees,”
- Peyush Bansal, Lenskart CEO to Your Story
The platform was founded by Peyush Bansal who established Lenskart in the year of 2010 alongside Amit Chaudhary and Sumeet Kapahi. Prior to founding Lenskart Peyush had also worked at Microsoft. He is also the founder of Lenskart's parent company Valyoo Technologies.
Peyush pursued his graduation in Canada's McGill University after which he launched searchmycampus in 2007, a classifieds site which specialized in providing solutions to the various variety of issues encountered by students. The site offered facilities ranging from accommodation to books, part-time jobs as well as internship opportunities.
While working with small retail setups in the US and aiding them in expanding their online presence from India, he glimpsed an opportunity in the eyewear industry, realising that this sector had not been properly tapped by the popular e-commerce giants.
Keeping this in perspective he set up Flyrr.com in the US, a platform which exclusively dealt in eyewear. After witnessing a promising response there, he decided to test the Indian scenario and launched Lenskart in 2010 in India.
“For us, starting Lenskart was really starting from the problem of vision correction in india. We still have about half a billion people in India who need vision correction. Also, about 40 percent of the world’s visually impaired live in India, that’s how it all started-- that can we create and solve this problem of vision correction?”
- Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart to Your Story
It all began when Peyush Bansal, Lenskart’s CEO, discovered the void in the eyewear industry in the eyewear segment that he took the decision of starting his own company in India. He reached the realization that out of the people who require spectacles only a handful of people actually wear them largely owing to the lack of quality of the spectacles or because of their cost.
Bansal was later joined by Amit Choudhary and Sumeet Kapahi, as the trio set out to alter the society’s perception of glasses being out of fashion to make them a popular trend among the people.
As a result in its initial days, Lenskart was established as a sole e-commerce company, which later on moved on to become an omnichannel platform.
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Omnichannel strategy of Lenskart
In an old interview with Business Standard Peyush Bansal stated that the platform pursued an inventory-led business model in which the designs are forwarded on to their manufacturers. This model as well as Lenskart’s supply chain aids it in keeping the prices of its products under control.
"The fact that there is no middleman involved means the company can pass on the benefit of reduced costs to the customers in the form of almost 70% lower prices. The frames at Lenskart.com are crafted in some of the finest production lines in the world and are inspected thrice before being delivered."
- Peyush Bansal in an old interview with Vision Mag
Lenskart is one of the initial Indian brands which adopts the robotic technique and offers micro-precision glasses, that are precise upto three decimal places.
The platform also facilitates services like 3-D trial services, in an attempt to optimise the whole process for their consumers. They adopt an aggressive marketing approach in which they provide the initial frame free of cost to their first time consumers.
Presently Lenskart pursues the Omni-channel retail model. As per this model, the business facilitates both online as well as offline mode services. The primary objective of the platform setting up offline stores was the skepticism of the Indian consumers in buying eyewear online since the customers wanted to test the products physically, feeling and experiencing them to ensure their quality.
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“When the company was incepted, it was incepted with the goal to revolutionize eyewear in India. So the biggest milestone was going to homes to do eye exams. The second biggest milestone was that that wasn’t enough and then a lot of people are shopping in the markets, they want a consumer brands, so let us go open stores so they can touch and feel our frames and we can still ship it from a central facility.
Then the next big milestone was saying, this is also not enough. At the end of the day consumer is not buying the channel, they are not buying online, offline or home, they are actually buying a pair of specs. Then the pair of specs needs to be so much better than what they can buy. That was the biggest milestone,”
- Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart to CNBCTV18
The prevailing pandemic and the restrictions caused by it has led to the platform gaining a higher degree of online tractions. As recently reported by Inc42, the company’s online sales have risen from 20% to 40% of its business. Online sales are presently dominating by bringing 90% of the company’s sales as opposed to the 70% fetched prior to the pandemic.
“We are seeing almost 200-300 percent growth there in terms of adoption of people ordering without any assistance. Sales are higher online overall. People are browsing online more, still not stepping out despite lockdown being lifted at the majority of the geographies.”
- Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart to Your Story
Alongside this, the platform has also been expecting a growth of at least 20% for its ongoing financial year, which concludes by March 2021. The platform has also revealed its plans of opening up to 200-300 stores in the year 2020. As of now, Lenskart has about 600 stores. Amidst the pandemic restrictions various features have been introduced by the platform such as appointment-based shopping as well as aggressive sanitisation procedures in order to lure more consumers.
“Our general view is that everything will be fine in the long term. Plus-minus six, nine, or 12 months also doesn't bother us; we know things will be fine in the long term. So, we continue to open stores, we continue to operate every store. Some may make profit, some may make losses, but the larger goal is to serve vision correction for customers.”
- Peyush Bansal, CEO of Lenskart to Your Story
Lenskart's leading investors include PremjiInvest, Kedaara Capital, Chiratae Ventures, TPG Growth, Ratan Tata of Tata Sons, Rajeev Chitrabhanu, Adveq, Eqip Capital as well as IFC Venture Capital Group.
So far the platform has raised up to a total of $456 million in all its funding rounds as confirmed by TechCrunch.
The platform's most recent investment was the $275 million, it raised from SoftBank Vision Fund, in the month of December 2019, after which the platform reached a valuation of $1.5 Billion.
“Lenskart of the future would be a global company where we serve consumers keeping India's manufacturing in focus -- make sure that India generates a lot of employment. Lenskart already helps generate a lot of employment in the country, both in terms of manufacturing and retail. We are a full stack business -- manufacturing to retailers, we will continue to embrace this and make it as big as possible.”
- Amit Chaudhary, co founder of Lenskart to Business Insider
From the time of its establishment to now Lenskart has overcome a wave of challenges, making the blend of consumer enthusiasm, suitable work culture, and establishing precise benchmarks as their weapon. With its future plans underway, the platform shows a great degree of potential towards expanding and marking a dominant position in the near future.
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