‘Franchising is the backbone of a hybrid model’ Peyush Bansal
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Interview 2016-07-04

‘Franchising is the backbone of a hybrid model’ Peyush Bansal

Inaugurated to provide eyewear through the digital platform, Peyush Bansal, Founder, Lenskart has achieved a different level with reaching to every nook and corner of the country, in a detailed conversation, he shares wabout the brands journey till date.

‘Franchising is the backbone of a hybrid model’ Peyush Bansal

Starting with providing eyewear through the digital platform, Peyush Bansal, Founder, Lenskart has achieved a different level with reaching to every nook and corner of the country, in a detailed conversation, he shares with us about the brands future plans and the journey till date.

1.Please tell us in detail about the brand’s debut and journey till date?

Lenskart was founded in 2010 with a vision of solving India’s eye care problem and it has been committed to revolutionizing the eye wear category in the country by providing high quality, trendy and reasonable eyewear. We introduced initiatives like Home Eye Check Up and Free Home Trial as still, there are consumers who don’t prefer to go for regular eye checkups and don’t give importance to eye care. Through Home Eye Check Up, Lenskart is able to serve customers in the comfort of their homes in 7 Indian cities and currently services 1000 plus families through its 200 plus certified refractionists. Free Home Trial promises the company’s commitment of bringing eyewear of exemplary design and quality to consumers who hesitate to shop online for eyeglasses and sunglasses because they want to be sure about the fit and style of the pair they are picking up. This facility is available in 45+ cities and there are still many consumers who have inhibitions in buying spectacles online with the fear if it will fit their face or not, and in order to remove these inhibitions and make them comfortable with buying online, we introduced the concept of 3D Try On. We have also set up over 200 offline stores across the country to provide them touch and feel experience and multiple touch points. We have also invested in MEI machines imported from Germany which fasten the whole process of producing spectacles. Through these machines we are able to produce 3 glasses in 50 seconds.

2.What made you evolve your model from a digital platform to adding a retail channel?

The fact that eye wear as a category is fairy complex was one of the prime reasons behind coming up with offline stores and invest in further expanding its presence. The objective is to provide a tangible experience to our consumers and allow them to touch and feel the products.

Since eyewear as a product is extremely personal; many still require assistance to buy eyewear. We, as Indians want to touch and feel the product before buying it. Hence transition from offline to online will still take time. In this scenario, having an Omni-channel presence has helped us in increasing touch points and reaching out to maximum people. This has also assisted us in removing their apprehensions and hesitation in buying eyewear online. We at Lenskart wish to refer to our model as the ‘Assisted E-commerce model’. Although we have invested and continue to invest in expanding our offline presence, at the same time we are driving people to the website to make a purchase. We help them do this through our innovative services like home eye check-up services, offline stores which ultimately hand holds the consumer to make the purchase online

3.In current scenario, is it necessary for a brand to be active in an offline model? Please elaborate

Considering the e-commerce industry has become competitive day by day, it’s imperative for brands to provide multiple touch points to consumers. The reason it has become essential for brands to operate through physical stores is that we still have potential customers who are hesitant in making an eyewear purchase online; this helps in giving them the much needed touch and feel experience. It also enables customers to understand the brand better and to have more touch points.

Do you think that the digital platform has become a debutant platform to gain publicity and market a brand?

No, I don’t think that the digital platform has become a debutant platform, I think the digital brands are reaching the masses very quickly by making the products accessible, then beyond a point you want to get more and more market share and there are people who know areas and who know regions, especially the network today is not capable enough for people to just buy online, Whether it’s the logistics or the broadband speed.

Various brands are joining hands with the hybrid model and increasing their offline reach, do you think it is a revival of the offline vs online?

Overall, I would not say that it is a revival of offline versus online. I think it is definitely a movement towards hybrid models, it means that online companies are going offline and offline companies are going online. I think it is more to do through making the same product available and touching consumers at various touch points, while they are home and while they are shopping in the mall.

We wanted to make sure that we are not losing the consumer at any point in time, and that of course is a very natural progression over the irony, if we look at the U.S then we will observe that many ecommerce players have hybrid models. Especially for players which are selling the brand and the product which is unique to them like Lenskart, I am saying this because it is critical to be Omni present because today people have alternatives to buy the product from other offline stores, so if you want to sell your product then it has to be available at the closest and at any point of time.

Why do you want to reach out at every customer checkpoint?

You need to catch the consumer at any and every moment, supposedly If someone is selling coke or pepsi in the mall even if it is available in his/her society even if it was needed at that particular moment. I would say its all about accessibility. Therefore, for example apple is being sold everywhere, you can buy it online or you can buy it from a shop nearby but there is still a shop in the mall which is selling the Iphone and people are buying it because it is accessible for them.

4.Recently, you have raised an enormous amount of $ 59 million. Will you be deploying it in the retail model, if yes then will you take route to grow via franchising?

No, you don’t deploy money into retail as majority of the money goes into backend, supply chain and technology building, because we went on building a very different kind of a retail which is very much dominated through technology. Today, if I ask you that uber is an online or an offline model then it would be a tricky question for you. Uber is not raising money to buy tech taxis instead it is deploying money into technology to build its platform. So, the money is mainly deployed in Technology, Branding, Marketing, Supply chain, Backend etc.

Please explain that how important is franchising for Lenskart?

I have believed in franchising from the very first moment, it went well for us. Our franchisees are profitable and we are earning money, hence it’s a model that works. Talking about the support that we provide to our franchisees, therefore, we provide all kind of support to our franchisees varying from product knowledge, training, and tech training catering from the opening of the outlet till start of the operations.

Please share that what all is needed to open a Lenskart franchise and please share your expansion plans?

Well, an amount close to 30 lacs is required to open a Lenskart franchisee, with a return on investment of 100%. We want to open another 200 stores this year with a sustainable omni channel growth model. Apart from that, we want to enter the hyper market, hospital chains, shop n shop to enhance our omni channel presence as a brand.

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