Founded in 2015, popular ecommerce startup Glazziq has established itself as one of Thailand’s top eyeglasses brands for the younger generation. The company is sells high quality, affordable glasses online and experiencing a healthy average monthly revenue growth of approximately 20% – with no additional help from external investors.
What makes Glazziq unique? Well, the company offers a ‘Home Try-On’ program to allow customers to order up to three pairs of glasses to try on first and for a small deposit that is returned as store credit once items are shipped back.
Sound familiar? The startup is often compared to Warby Parker, a highly successful US based startup that managed to disrupt traditional eyeglasses retailers by providing customers with a similar at-home trial.
Although initially met with a lot of skepticism, the US company is now estimated to be worth over $1 billion and since its inception in 2010, has added over 20 offline stores to assist its online growth. 90% of in-store shoppers have already visited the Warby Parker website and/or plan to make a second or third purchase online.
The brand’s low prices and O2O strategy have attributed to its accelerated growth and awareness.
“It was really about bypassing retailers, bypassing the middlemen that would mark up lenses 3-5x what they cost so we could just transfer all of that cost directly to consumers and save them money,” says Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal.
The successful integration between offline and online channels has created a unique browsing experience and propelled Warby Parker to be one of the most popular choices in North America for eyeglasses and Glazziq aims for the same success.
Although similar, Glazziq identified the demand for this kind of business model in Southeast Asia but adapted it for the region – all without the help of any external funding. How? With a smart business model, some traditional retail experience, dedicated founders and a market with high demand for spectacles.
Euromonitor forecasts that glasses in Thailand is expected to maintain a compounded annual growth rate of 5% to push sales to reach $13 billion by 2021. With so much potential, it’s surprising no company in Thailand has found a way to sell better to the digitally adept generation.
Equipped with an MBA from Kellogg Business School, on-the-ground experience from her family’s own 50 year old glasses retailer Better Vision and SET listed global lens manufacturer Thai Optical Group, co-founder & CEO Prinda Pracharktam decided to build Glazziq.
Prinda shared that people often admitted they felt pressured under the watch of a salesperson and unwilling to pay high prices for brand name frames and lenses. Others were overwhelmed by the sheer selection of eyeglasses. Glazziq wanted its frames to be affordable and designed to suit the tastes of its target market of 20-35 year olds.
The online glasses store was born to be the solution to these particular pain points so now how could they keep its fickle millennial demographic engaged?
The Glazziq Experience: Laid back, Trendy & Fresh
When Glazziq was founded two years ago, Prinda and three other co-founders did everything in-house from snapping street style images of casual models to running online marketing campaigns and optimizing the design of the website.
By focusing on quality web content to mirror the appeal of flipping through a glossy magazine, Glazziq elevated the browsing experience for its customer. The company borrowed the same concept Instagram and Facebook fan pages used to keep their audiences engaged – relatable content that inspired.
And this concept is evident in each collection from Glazziq. There is a clear focus on “everyday” imagery and the company keeps its product line trendy through a new model release every quarter and offers over 170 styles.
By creating a fresh and visually appealing shopping experience for browsers, Glazziq removes the pressure to buy and instead provides the customer with everything they need to make an informed and satisfying purchase: multi-angle views, information on glasses material, styling examples, etc.
“Glazziq focus on personalization to improve brand loyalty,” says Prinda. “We cater to our customer’s unique tastes by providing them with styles that are either popular in magazines or edgy frames that can’t be found elsewhere.”
The Glazziq Model: DTC
Glazziq operates on a direct-to-consumer model. The startup manufactures the glasses themselves from custom designs and leverages resources from its partner, Thai Optical Group. This allows Glazziq to keep prices affordable while maintaining high quality, models start at $56.26.
The company operates like a fast fashion brand in charge of its operations and brand identity, bearing similarities to the business model of another highly successful Thai fashion brand Pomelo.
Glazziq’s extensive offline network gives it an advantage over other online platforms. Prinda shares that Glazziq’s UV400 color lens provided by Thai Optical Group is unique only to them and they collaborate to keep up with consumer trends. The company also works with Better Vision to offer a free eye prescription test and after sales care including frame repair, frame adjustment and lens replacement, all the crucial components that are often missing from purchasing eyewear online.
To ensure efficient supply chain operations, order information from a customer is sent directly to the lens manufacturer where Glazziq stores its frames. The product is then assembled and delivered directly to customers nationwide through a mix of third party logistics couriers. The return process is also simplified through Glazziq’s partnership with 7-Eleven that makes its “Home Try-On” program even more appealing.
Customers can return sample glasses from the program to any 7-Eleven branch – something that happens 10-20% of the time. The program has proven to be successful as home try-ons welcome a healthy 60% conversion rate. Although the company’s primary focus is on Thailand, the team plans to expand to Singapore and Malaysia where Better Vision is also present.
The Glazziq Future: Integrating Offline Touchpoints
The Glazziq team knew when they launched that they wouldn’t remain a pure online brand and began to tread the offline waters in 2016. Glazziq’s decision came from a cautious outlook on Thailand’s landscape – the country’s ecommerce industry is predicted to make up 15% of total retail sales by 2024, although a sizable jump from the current 3.8%, it would still leave a staggering 85% offline presence.
“Thailand still remains a thriving offline retail landscape, people are never going to stop shopping in department stores or malls,” Prinda comments.
So came the decision to launch an offline showroom in one of Thailand’s bustling office districts in a coffee shop called Printa Cafe.
“We didn’t want a typical brick and mortar store. Using a high-traffic location such as a cafe gives our products a lot of exposure and the relaxed environment encourages people to try on different designs between cups of coffee. We wanted something entirely different from going to an eyewear store with a sales attendant breathing down your neck. We hope customers purchase because they’ve found a suitable model they like,” Prinda comments.
And it seems to be working as Glazziq recently added a second offline location to its portfolio at Casa Lapin – a coffee shop and co-working space highly frequented by young professionals.
To buy at the showroom, shoppers can simply scan the QR code on the product or buy online through the site’s search function. The customer can then make an online transaction via credit/debit card payment or bank transfer and the product is delivered within 5-10 business days.
Prinda believes Glazziq’s offline presence will double the number of sales and bring more awareness to the company’s “Home Try-On” program. It also hopes the added exposure will give the brand a new audience who will enjoy the entire Glazziq experience.
“Every channel has its own forte. For our brand, it’s better to close sales online and tend to customers offline,” Prinda says. “You have to synchronize and blend both online and offline experiences in order to succeed.”