Online Eyeglasses Retailer ClearlyContacts, also operating as Coastal Contacts in Canada, has been doing so well since opening its first physical store in Vancouver that founder and CEO, Roger Hardy, is keen on launching a few more local stores.
Hardy reckons his company can only grow in strength since taking the plunge from operating exclusively online, and wants to open one in each significant retail centre on Canadian soil.
Given that his company sells one in every 10 pairs of eyeglasses, and also accounts for one out of every five contact lens sales in Canada, Hardy has good reason to be optimistic about stepping out of the virtual world of e-commerce.
Worldwide, the gods of good enterprising commerce have been smiling on Coastal Contacts as well. International customers in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States are ordering more eyewear from Hardy’s company than in 2012. The company’s expected to reach $225 million in worldwide revenue in 2013.
Coastal has been in the business of selling corrective eyewear online since 2000. Taking advantage of the exciting opportunities and possibilities of online markets, Coastal made big strides since then, mainly targeting aging customers. Though contact lens sales bring in a bigger slice of business, the good news is that eyeglass sales are growing in leaps and bounds too.
In a typical day, the company gets about 4,000 orders for contact lenses, and can manufacture 12,000 in the space of 24 hours. To date, its Vancouver store has seen sales of more than $2,000 per square foot of selling space.
Solid Business Feedback From Face-To-Face Operations
Hardy’s optimism about the impending Canadian store rollout is based on solid assumptions and experience. He reckons that face-to-face contact with customers will provide the company with valuable feedback on the business, and also expand opportunities to bring in new customers. He is aware of the fact that online orders, though they might be convenient, also has some drawbacks. Some potential customers might not feel comfortable about filling in online forms requiring detailed prescription information, for example.
The company’s CEO is convinced that the 5% drop in online sales in 2012 is no reason for disconcern, and believes that traditional domestic stores can generate as much profit as online sales. Hardy speaks from experience, given the company’s general success in global sales, it’s widening scale of operations, and the fact that it operates its own manufacturing plant in Canada.
Bold Step: Establishing Traditional Retail Outlets
Establishing traditional retail outlets is indeed a bold step for ClearlyContacts. Experts have been alerting businesses to the fact that online retailing is growing increasingly profitable, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, traditional commercial ventures are struggling. But Hardy has no desire to halt online operations and to go fully traditional. However, there is no harm in taking advantage of the fact that many customers prefer to deal with local, smaller outlets than going online.
In the meantime, business is looking good for ClearlyContacts, and that’s all the more reason to be bold and brave in the unpredictable world of supply and demand.