We will also be testing several very unique programs that are definitely 'out of the box' relative to the way consumers currently buy eyeglasses.
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Draper, UT (Vocus) April 29, 2010
Optical industry veteran Bob Main, former SVP of 1800CONTACTS and GlassesDirect.com, has formed a new online eyeglass company called Web Vision Centers, Inc. Industry experts estimate the online eyewear category will grow from its infant stage now to exceed 2 billion dollars within 5 to 7 years. The company's experienced management team, combined with a unique and difficult to duplicate consumer proposition, wide product offering, efficient eyeglass production program and scalable/efficient business model makes this company well positioned to quickly become one of the leaders in the emerging online eyewear category.
Market potential - Globally, the eyewear market exceeds 40 billion dollars and, in the US alone, the sales of glasses exceed $16 billion dollars annually. Currently, less than 3% of all eyeglasses are sold online. Most industry experts agree that online eyeglass sales will grow to be 10% to 15% of the total prescription eye glasses market. There is precedence to support this estimate. Online contact lens sales have quickly grown to almost 15% of the market while other non-optical industries such as apparel, jewelry, and foot wear have seen over 10% of their sales go to the online category. Internet eyewear sales continues to grow exponentially with 14% of consumers in 2009 using the internet to aid in their eyeglass purchasing decision , compared to only 7% in 2007. In 2009, US consumers searched on a glasses related word on Google every 1.15 seconds; and this rate doubled over the previous year. Clearly, consumers are beginning to look to the internet for eyeglasses.
Answering a need - Currently, US consumers purchase one pair of prescription eyeglasses, on average, every 2.2 years and spend over $220 for the average pair of glasses. While most consumers own/wear more than one watch, pair of shoes, purse or even suit coat, most only own/wear one pair of eyeglasses -due to the current high cost through traditional sources. Web Vision Centers is developing solutions and alternative eyeglass shopping options for consumers. Some consumers will always prefer to have the one-on-one interaction of buying eyeglasses from their eye doctor. However, for those consumers who seek/demand the convenience, larger frame selection, and low cost/value that the internet offers, Web Vision Centers will offer a wide variety of alternatives.
Business model overview - Recognizing that consumers have a wide variety of demands in eyeglass frame styles and budgets, the company's E-commerce Division is developing multiple eyeglass websites that will target these various consumer demands. Some sites will focus on the price/value segment, several will target the style/designer conscious consumer while others will be geared to address the needs of ethnic groups and age related groups. All sites will be supported by a centralized infrastructure comprised of a highly trained call center, inventory/shipping team, manufacturing and administration team creating significant efficiencies in costs and operations. The company's Professional Division will offer web strategy and marketing consulting services along with private label, 'turnkey' web solutions.
Website Launch - The company has launched its first website, http://www.halfpriceeyeglasses.com. The website is designed to be a real life 'confirmation test' e-commerce site. It will be confirming/testing consumers' habits relative to price sensitivity, brand name demands, marketing channel preferences and reaction to various promotional programs. Bob Main, President of Web Vision Centers said " We will also be testing several very unique programs that are definitely 'out of the box' relative to the way consumers currently buy eyeglasses." This overall data will be used to support the design of future sites and confirm assumptions in the company's business plan.
Management team - The management team is comprised of optical industry veterans with broad-based experience in product procurement, eyeglass production, eye health management and retail optical management. Additionally, the team has years of e-commerce experience with the unique understanding of online eyewear sales. The company's President, Bob Main has over 35 years retail optical experience with executive level positions held at Lenscrafters, Eyemasters, Pearle Vision and was CEO of a retail optical chain. He was also SVP of online contact lens retail giant 1800CONTACTS and SVP of Europe's leading online eyeglass e-retailer, Glasses Direct.
The company's VP of Product, Joyce Stahr said " Our frame styles are very broad based, offering something for everyone, from the budget minded to the style conscious consumer." The first site, has a frame product mix that includes non-branded imported product, house brands and designer glasses name frames that mirror the latest fashion trends.
The rest of the management team and advisory board is rounded out with significant experience in eyeglass production, optometric professional services and e-commerce web SEO/marketing.
(Industry and consumer data sources: Vision Council of America Internet Consumer Study 2009 and Jobson Research Vision Watch)