Launched in 2016, Indonesian direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand SATURDAYS aims to transform the eyewear retail experience. Inspired by Warby Parker, the co-founders decided to launch a quality yet affordable eyewear brand. Starting at IDR 1,295,000 (USD90) including prescription lenses, SATURDAYS glasses are made out of premium materials, such as Italian acetate and Japanese titanium, and designed in-house to fit Asian consumers. They can be easily purchased from one of SATURDAYS brick-and-mortar stores or ordered online and on the company’s app. SATURDAYS is also taking the customer experience to the next level with its home try-on service.
According to market research provider, Euromonitor International, the rate of growth in retail current value sales of eyewear will accelerate during 2022 and remain robust for the period 2022-2026, with sunglasses performing particularly well. Demand for prescription glasses will also be supported by the fact that there is a growing number of Indonesians with eyesight problems. According to opticians and ophthalmologists, the number of cases of myopia increased significantly during both 2020 and 2021 in Indonesia, particularly among children.
The DTC brand plans to strengthen its online presence and expand to more Indonesian cities in the coming years as the country’s eyewear market (excluding contact lenses) is poised to hit more than IDR 7,154,101 million (USD499 million) by 2026, according to a report from Euromonitor International.
Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview SATURDAYS co-founder, Rama Suparta, to discuss the brand’s mission, the eyewear market in Indonesia, the brand’s omnichannel strategy and future plans.
RiA: Can you give us a background into your journey before launching your brand in 2016 and the reasons behind the launch of SATURDAYS?
Rama: My co-founder, Andrew Kandolha, and myself have been wearing glasses almost our whole life. We shared similar pain points when purchasing eyewear; expensive price, average design and fit, and boring customer experience. Andrew went to school with the founders of Warby Parker and witnessed their journey from idea incubation to revolutionizing the DTC movement and today being a publicly traded company. We brainstormed and developed the concept back in 2015, and then launched our website in 2016. SATURDAYS was founded to solve a huge problem: nearly half of the Indonesian population needs vision correction but many lack access to or awareness they require glasses. Those who do either overpay for branded eyewear designed for Western faces or have to purchase terrible quality and/or fake branded glasses with poor customer experience. The World Health Organization released a study stating that a pair of glasses can improve productivity by 30% and overall income by 20% in emerging countries.
We want to be the solution by providing access to glasses to millions through our omnichannel approach and offer affordable, high quality eyewear designed to fit and look great on Asian consumers. As a DTC brand, it is very important that we wow customers on the first encounter to create an everlasting impression and enduring brand.
RiA: How would you describe your brand? Why did you name it after a day of the week?
Rama: What do you think of when you hear the word Saturdays? The name SATURDAYS was chosen as it is the favourite day of the week for most people as they spend time with friends and family, exercise, binge-watch, sleep and be themselves! We want to change the boring perception when shopping for eyewear, as it should be fun, easy and convenient. By making eyewear more affordable, people can own several pairs of glasses, and glasses become more of a fashion accessory rather than a medical device. Our mission is to inspire confidence in every person by creating authentic, lifestyle eyewear that’s affordable and convenient.
RiA: Can you elaborate on the eyewear market in Indonesia and how challenging it is to launch a DTC brand?
Rama: The eyewear market is dominated by a single global company that has been keeping prices unreasonably high to earn huge profits. There are a few large optical players in Indonesia that mainly distribute brands from this company leaving customers with few options. SATURDAYS is the first brand in Indonesia to offer premium quality, yet affordable eyewear designed in-house for Asian features. SATURDAYS designs are unique and we use high quality materials, such as Italian acetate and Japanese titanium, to craft eyewear that people are proud to wear. The DTC eyewear market is still nascent and highly fragmented in Indonesia. It can be quick to launch an idea but it is very challenging and takes time to create an enduring brand. We aim to be the dominant eyewear brand in Indonesia and the one customers continue to shop at again and again.
RiA: How many brick-and-mortar shops do you operate and what is your omnichannel strategy?
Rama: We will have 10 brick-and-mortar shops by the end of 2021 and plan to scale online as well as offline to different cities in Indonesia. We take an omnichannel approach to provide affordable eyewear and free eye testing so customers can shop through the most convenient channel for them. Technology plays a critical role in our strategy to reach the masses and improve customer experience.
RiA: SATURDAYS aims to transform the eyewear retail experience. How are you changing the way customers buy eyewear?
Rama: The traditional way of shopping for eyewear is not fun and expensive. The optical stores typically display many glasses under a glass counter and the store itself is filled with ads and signage with white, displeasing ambiance. Customers are not able to try-on glasses freely as they require uniformed store staff to help. Glasses offered are from western brands with the majority being designed for Westerners not Asians. Pricing is not transparent and simple: usually lens choices are confusing and do not include frame prices; not to mention the complex promotions designed for customers to spend more, not save. The processing time to install lenses can take 3 to 5 days and require customers to come back to the store to pick up. Last but not least, there are minimal return policies or warranties.
SATURDAYS has been leading the DTC revolution in Indonesia since first introducing our eyewear and omnichannel experience to the local market in 2016. We redefined the offline shopping experience with eyewear displayed in a modern cafe, serving specialty coffee and artisan cookies. Customers can freely try-on glasses on open displays and prices are transparent, including prescription lenses. Customers only need to wait 30 minutes for lens installation and we offer free coffee while they wait for their glasses to be ready.
Technology plays a key role in our omnichannel approach, making it convenient for customers to shop through our website, mobile app, chat or home try-on service. Our Home Try-On service offers an in-store experience but in the convenience of the customer’s home. Our App provides an integrated shopping experience, in which customers can try-on eyewear virtually, checkout, and have eyewear delivered to their home or they can schedule a pick-up in store. Customers can also book a Home Try-On appointment directly on the app. Our customers also engage with us through chat to purchase glasses or if they need assistance to book the Home Try-On service and if they have any questions.
While we take inspiration from overseas players, the need to localize our products and experience is a must. We provide fresh and unique ways to shop for eyewear so customers can shop anytime, anywhere.
RiA: What’s your most important sales and customer acquisition channel?
Rama: Opening SATURDAYS stores serves as a marketing channel, and it helps build stronger connections with our customers to create an enduring brand. Our stores make people more confident in their online purchase and give the customer more trust/conviction that our company is real, especially for relatively higher value items. In-house studies show online sales are meaningfully higher in cities where SATURDAYS brand has a physical presence vs cities without. The same pattern applies to our home try-on service.
RiA: Can you elaborate on the Home Try-On service and how it was welcomed by customers during the pandemic?
Rama: SATURDAYS pioneered Home Try-On service across Indonesia, and we provide a seamless booking experience through the App where customers are able to book a date, input an appointment address, and select a specialty coffee, all for free! Our licensed optometrist brings the entire 100+ frame collections and administers a vision test in the comfort of the customers’ own home with the strict safety protocols (hand glove, hazmat suit, face shield and disinfectant to clean up the eyewear). The home try-on service was well received by customers especially during the pandemic as they could enjoy the whole shopping experience without leaving their home. Our home try-on service is now available in Jabodetabek, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan and Bali. We will expand our home try-on coverage area to more cities next year.
RiA: What’s next for SATURDAYS?
Rama: SATURDAYS aims to further elevate the eyewear game and bring integrated and seamless O2O shopping experience to Indonesian customers. We will add more exciting features to our App in the coming months, while also expanding our lifestyle stores concept to more Indonesian cities to achieve our mission in solving vision problems in Indonesia.