Big plans for KL-based GlassesGroupGlobal after Series A: Page 2 of 2
By Goh Thean Eu August 13, 2015
More than an online marketplace
On the surface, GlassesGroupGlobal’s eyewear retail portal GlassesOnline appears to be an online marketplace, where suppliers place their inventory so that consumers can view and purchase their items.
However, Strauch said that GlassesGroupGlobal is “somewhere in the middle.”
“In a typical marketplace like Rakuten, the merchants have the products, they upload [the information], they determine the pricing, and they deliver.
“With GlassesGroupGlobal, our suppliers’ inventory is integrated with our back-end. We are slightly different in our setup as we handle the store. We want to make sure our users have a consistent e-commerce experience.
“This is why we ‘in-source’ the logistics, customer service, content creation, and so forth. This is to maintain full control over the customer experience,” he added.
The company also stocks hot-selling items such as a certain models of Ray-Ban sunglasses, so that customers need not to wait too long.
GlassesGroupGlobal believes that a portal gives customer a wider selection of eyewear. Due to limited space, a typical optical store does not have the luxury to display all models and designs. Some may not even carry a particular brand, as the brand will decide which market or mall it wants to be in.
So for those who know what model they want, but know that this model is not available in their nearest optical stores, “they can come to our website to purchase it,” said Strauch.
“For our suppliers, the website is also a good avenue for them to sell their long-tail products,” he added, referring to the large number of products that sell in small quantities, compared with the small number of best-selling products.
Reshaping the eyewear industry
Currently, the eyewear products GlassesGroupGlobal sells are supplied by Luxottica Group SpA, the largest eyewear group in the world.
The Italian-based eyewear maker is well-known for brands like Ray-Ban and Oakleys. It also has the rights to a wide range of designer brands like Chanel, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Miu Miu and more.
Strauch said that the industry is not seeing much innovation partly because the supply side, comprising manufacturing and distribution, is dominated by that one player, Luxottica.
However, on the retail side, the market is made up of many small players.
“If you have a monopoly on the supply side, they have already cornered the market, so there’s not much innovation that needs to be done for them to improve,” he said.
“On the other side, you have a fragmented market where you have the independent shops – they don’t have the money, the power or the ability to innovate,” he added.
But isn’t GlassesGroupGlobal a threat to existing optician stores, and to Luxottica even? After all, if the optician stores’ business is affected, this would lead to less business for the distributor, Luxottica.
“I think in any e-commerce venture, people will ask if you are really stealing away from the existing market, or whether you are attracting customers who previously did not have access to these products,” said Strauch.
“I think it’s a little bit of both. But overall, the pie is still growing with more people having higher incomes, and with more people having access to the Internet in remote areas.
“By working with someone like us, we can penetrate markets other players were not covering,” he added.
For now, GlassesGroupGlobal may be good news for eyewear companies and brands because it is a new sales avenue for them. But it is not good news for local optical shops which may see existing customers opting to buy online instead.
Strauch acknowledged the challenge, but claimed that work is underway to address this.
“Our next target is to optimise and innovate the industry as a whole. Right now, our focus is predominantly on consumers and brands, and how we can help them.
“Our next big step is helping opticians – we can’t reveal too much yet, but this is something we will be announcing shortly. It’s something we have been working very hard on at the back-end,” he declared.
“Ultimately, it’s about delivering value proposition to everyone in the industry – consumers, brands, and opticians,” he added.
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