Asia’s largest eyewear retailer launches in the Middle East


December 9, 2021 | By Zubina Ahmed

After a decade of disrupting online opticwear markets in India and Singapore, Lenskart, India’s largest eyewear retailer, has formally entered the Middle East with the aim of securing 25% of the regional $3.5 bn optiwear market by 2026.

With the twin objective of establishing market-leading status as the region’s top eyewear platform within two years, backed by more than 5000 styles of eyewear, Lenskart’s US$50 million (AED185 million) expansion into the Middle East with its omnichannel strategy includes the opening of the first physical store in Dubai on December 19, spread across an area of 1300 sq ft at the Dubai Festival City Mall. The brand will expand into two other locations at Ibn Battuta Mall and BurJuman in the coming months.

The brand’s flagship store will feature state-of-the-art AI technology through a 3D Try-On machine integrated with virtual face-mapping that suggests suitable frames to customers. The service is available on Lenskart’s website and app as well, allowing customers to see themselves from multiple angles, making frame selection faster, more effective and fun for the buyers. Another newly introduced concept available in-store is The Sun Room – a trial room for sunglasses which replicates the outdoors.

Lenskart’s premium fashion eyewear is also available online with free delivery across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. The company’s super trendy and affordable offerings include Lenskart’s brands of prescription and non-prescription eye, sun and computer glasses, by in-house manufacturing brands such as by John Jacobs, Vincent Chase, and Lenskart Air.

Lenskart has also launched an exclusive loyalty program in the form of a Gold Membership. Available to purchase online or within the store for just AED 100 per year, the program offers customers access to buy-one-get-one offers on the complete range of eyeglasses and sunglasses, extended warranty, unlimited exchange and returns, and more.

Peyush Bansal, Lenskart’s Founder and CEO said: “At Lenskart, our purpose is to transform the way people see and experience the world. Over the last decade, we have revolutionised the way people perceive and make use of eyewear. Wearing our glasses has enabled our customers in India to not just correct their vision but also expand their lifestyle without barriers. With our foray into the Middle East, we want bring the same scale of transformation to people’s lives here, especially those who are eager to do more and be more.”

“The region, which is largely dominated by offline retail chains, is a fragmented market lacking a meaningful tech enabled omnichannel brand. There is an absence of full-stack players with limited control over supply chain and order fulfilment. The segment is dominated by traditional optical players selling branded products largely through horizontals. This is in total contrast to our philosophy of cutting out the middlemen and their mark-ups and selling premium eyewear at honest prices,” he added.

Tech-driven Lenskart employs indigenously developed Augmented Reality (AR) technology that enables customers to try eyewear virtually and makes intelligent recommendations based on facial analysis. The unique click and mortar business aims to revolutionise the eyewear industry. To prioritise consumer needs, Lenskart offers disruptive services, including virtual 3D try-on and soon to be launched home eye check-up – all using hi-tech robotics which is redefining the global optiwear market.

With Lenskart’s initial plans placing a strong focus on the contact lens category to drive revenue growth via its Aqualens brand, which Bansal predicts will be “easy to move online”, Sudhir Syal, Lenskart’s Chief Business Officer – Middle East, sees the Middle East optiwear segment as ripe for disruption, highlighting the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the region’s largest eyewear markets – as the company’s priority targets.

“Saudi Arabia is of interest due to its large local Arab population, while we anticipate strong appeal among UAE-based millennials who will respond to our stylish and high-quality products supported by innovative technology and a strong supply chain delivering unbeatable customer experience. Our prime objective will be customer satisfaction and we anticipate speedy penetration across the Emirates, where the market remains driven by expatriate buyers. We are conscious that South Asians, who are familiar with our brands, represent 60% of the expatriate total,” explained Syal.

Lenskart, which employs more than 5,000 people across the globe and has an in-house data and technology team of over 300 engineers, shipped seven million pairs of eyewear last year, the largest volume of any eyewear startup founded globally in the last decade.

The company is currently developing a new production hub in India’s Delhi-NCR region, equating to an investment of over US$100 million, with the goal of becoming the world’s largest eyewear facility with a supply capacity of over 150,000 glasses per day.

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