Singapore-based online eye care platform See Chic has seen sales grow rapidly since it’s launched three months ago. The ecommerce startup aims to conquer the Southeast Asian market and become a USD50 million business within four years, founder Thomas Brochier told Retail in Asia on Monday.
Brochier, a retail veteran who worked for Luxottica for seven years, believes that the experience of working in the UK as country manager of the Italian eyewear giant laid a solid foundation on his knowledge of ecommerce.
“When I served Luxottica as country manager of the UK during 2010-2013, I found that there were several small ecommerce players selling eyewear by simply displaying products online and crossing the price. It’s not good for the brands. Meanwhile, a few strong players emerged such as My Optique who knew how to use good marketing strategy, customer service and brand storytelling and we decided to support them fully, and we helped them take over the market.”
When Brochier moved to Singapore in 2013, he saw the potential of the market. Less than 5 percent of all contact lenses are purchased online in the city compared with 55 percent in the US. “Plus, there was no professional online retailer in the optical segment in Asia,” said Brochier. He decided to build an online platform with good marketing strategy, customer service and brand storytelling which can not only be trusted by the brands but also by the consumers.
The French entrepreneur raised over USD1 million in seed funding and launched the website on Black Friday 27 Nov 2015. The funds have been used on building the inventory, platform, acquiring customers as well as growing the team.
The website offers a wide selection of sunglasses and contact lenses, touting 100 percent authentic brands and disruptive pricing.
“We are a certified retailer of 100 percent authentic and genuine brands and guarantee that we do not sell counterfeit products. We are partnered with the best and most recognizable international brands around the world, which is why we can always offer the newest products online. And because we deal directly with the brands themselves, we can guarantee the lowest prices available on the market,” said Brochier.
Different from other online eyewear retailers, See Chic offers free eye care checkups from professional optometrists. Performed by registered optometrists with portable equipment, customers can have the test and a prescription ready within twenty minutes.
“There is no need to take an eye appointment at the opticians, or visit an expensive retail shop to purchase your contact lenses or sunglasses,” said Brochier. “We verify customers’ prescription or send registered optometrists to them, and work closely with eye care brands and industry leaders to ensure authenticity and deep knowledge of our products and services.”
As See Chic is offering free eye test for individual customers, Brochier finds a bigger group to serve – corporate employees.
“Office workers today spend a lot of time in front of screens, however they often neglect to give their eyes the care that they need. Singaporean healthcare regulations recommend a yearly check-up before purchasing contact lenses, but not many people can do so. The corporate eye test does not only give office workers the opportunity to correct their vision but companies the opportunity to show care to their employees, “noted Brochier.
The idea has been well welcomed ever since Brochier started pitching the corporations. In order to have a corporate eye test service, companies needs to pick a date, time and location. See Chic will then set up an appointment app for employees to book their slots and bring its optometrists and portable machines to the office on the agreed date. It takes about 20 minutes to test one person, and one optometrist can test 20 people a day.
“It has been a success and we have received great feedback from corporations. Last week we tested about 100 corporate employees and we will be doing this more and more,” said Brochier.
The company has three optometrists now and Brochier aims to have 10-15 optometrists before the end of the year. Seeing the free eye test service taking off in Singapore, he plans to bring the service to more mega cities in Asia.
“We are based in Singapore but our products are shipped to 10 countries in Asia. We prefer to develop one market well before we expand our footprint. Our main focus now is on converting people who are used to shopping for eyewear offline to buy online,” noted Brochier.
“Our long term goal is to reach out to half of a billion people who don’t have access to vison care and we are exploring ways to reach them.”
(Source: Yoko Wang)