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Can This Eight Roads-Backed Eyewear Brand Challenge Lenskart Dominance?

Can This Eight Roads-Backed Eyewear Brand Challenge Lenskart Dominance?

After 12 years of brick & mortar presence, Specsmakers had to quick construct an internet presence due to Covid-19 and the lockdown

The company claims to have visible a increase of 500% with its online presence within the first few months

SoftBank-backed Lenskart is one of the important competition to Specsmakers inside the omnichannel eyewear space

“It is not in my DNA to burn money, and our shops have been profitable and ecommerce seemed to be just every other channel to burn cash. But then Covid-19 came about,” says Specsmakers cofounder and CEO Pratik Shah. And so Shah needed to relent inside the face of an endemic and embody ecommerce for Specsmakers, after 12 years within the core retail marketplace.


Covid-19’s most important impact turned into now not handiest on the sales, which had to stop straight away because of retail restrictions, for Specsmakers, the pandemic also disrupted production. When Covid-19 hit China in late 2019, the business enterprise’s source of raw substances become disrupted, which sent Specsmakers into firefighting mode earlier than maximum different agencies. By overdue March, the usa went into lockdown and Specsmakers’ shops have been shut. However, with contingency plans already in vicinity, the corporation changed into able to get its ecommerce presence up and going for walks by way of this time. 

Since then, the employer has grown its technology backend, integrated with ecommerce players like Amazon, Myntra and so on during the last few weeks and the company claims to have seen the increase of 500% with an ecommerce presence. 

Can This Eight Roads-Backed Omnichannel Eyewear Brand Challenge Lenskart Dominance?

The Cash Burn In Ecommerce: Why SMBs Shy Away

Shah took over Venkateshwara Opticals, a a long time-old circle of relatives enterprise, in 2004 and rebranded it to Specsmakers in 2008. In 2011, the agency began increasing in southern India and raised pre-seed investment in 2014. Backed by way of Eight Roads Ventures, the Chennai-established Specsmakers has over 260 stores throughout Southern India. However, the frugality of strolling a own family commercial enterprise and brick & mortar shop has made these types of shops profitable.

For the subsequent phase of increase in January 2020, Shah along together with his wife and cofounder Sonal Shah, started out planning to launch online. Shah defined that because of initial traction and the present patron base, the business enterprise got elevated attain online and additionally started out directing its clients to its website. “I am no longer someone who believes in losses, at a product level and at a store level. I need to make cash. We felt that establishing up brick and mortar shops was extra profitable and greater natural increase than simply establishing up an ecommerce channel and burning capital,” Shah explains.

Before branching out into ecommerce, the business enterprise never targeted on being a generation startup, but has now transitioned into an omnichannel eyewear brand. Shah is likewise optimistic that even though the company entered ecommerce late, it has accomplished it nicely. Specsmakers outsourced its ecommerce operations to an enterprise, which has already finished this for numerous other gamers and thus, has the know-how in getting products on line. The organization didn’t have the luxury of time in ideating, making plans and getting the ecommerce crew off the floor, and determined to outsource the system of constructing the platform.

“You may also turn out to be paying five%-15% greater but you will have the engine strolling with out the need to worry about the intricacies like tags and so forth. I believe in operating with the experts, who can supply the numbers. You can usually hold converting the professional in the event that they don’t deliver,” Shah defined.

The Challenges Of Building Offline To Online Brand

With tech comes benefits like tapping clients who exited before sorting out, or the ones who've left items of their cart, that is just now not possible in retail. But it additionally brings new limitations.

Like most businesses that have gone online lately, the large assignment is handling the higher costs, together with for marketing and marketing via Google AdWords and Facebook. The preliminary price of trying out marketing strategies and campaigns and using commercial enterprise to a brand new platform is quite excessive. And this comes with a large funding hazard as matters trade rapidly inside the on line world and ecommerce organizations need to keep up with the modern-day tech. 

For Shah and Specsmakers, the technique of listing become another fundamental project. The enterprise needed to learn about photographing products and upload more than one pix. This required coordination with the inventory and warehouse group, which turned into particularly difficult for the duration of the work at home segment. “This vertical of ecommerce is a completely unique vertical which we need to learn and whilst we had to examine, we additionally needed to implement and execute,” Shah added.

The Covid-19 Impact And Fighting Off Lenskart

“Covid-19 has given us a brand new avenue of enterprise, and this is going to at least visit become 20%-30% of our general agencies inside the subsequent 1-1.Five years,” – Specsmakers CEO Pratik Shah

In terms of enterprise overall performance, Shah shared that the employer has been growing at a CAGR of 55%-fifty six% yearly, but this yr it can see flat performance because of Covid-19, with stores being shut for over a hundred days. Specsmakers had plans to make bigger a hundred and twenty greater stores in FY20, however has put this on maintain until December. It is also eyeing ecommerce increase, through approximately 800%-one thousand% whilst retaining keep-level profitability. But it will be a difficult ask on this retail climate and with discretionary spending being low. 


In phrases of the once a year revenue run fee, the agency expects to hit INR seventy five Cr-INR 89 Cr — 10%-25% decrease than ultimate year — because of Covid-19 impact. “Our approach is now to grow to be a pan-India brand, as opposed to deep diving into each metropolis. So the plan for the following yr may be to open up a hundred shops pan-India and use our omnichannel method to drive footfalls to our stores. Instead of beginning 50-one hundred shops, we'd open 20 shops in metros,” Shah added.

Of course, entering into the large towns would mean taking over Lenskart and other brands along with Titan Eyewear. Lenskart is via far the largest competition, for the reason that the corporation is nicely entrenched in most cities with over 460 shops throughout India, and plans to take this to 2K shops over the subsequent 5 years. It has raised over $459.6 Mn from investors like Softbank, Kedaara Capital, TPG and many others. With masses of gasoline to burn, Lenskart is properly-located to combat off opposition, however recently, the business enterprise extended to the United States market and this could thoroughly shake its recognition off the Indian marketplace, although simply gently. 

Along with stores, Lenskart additionally has a robust virtual presence with capabilities consisting of 3-d trials, which Specsmakers has additionally added. It is also growing a mobile utility to healthy Lenskart. Further, at some stage in the lockdown, the agency delivered products focussed on getting rid of harmful blue light from gadgets given the higher display screen time. Of route, it’s nothing new while in comparison to the relaxation of the marketplace, but it’s sincerely right initially such an approach to capitalise inside the early days.

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