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Lenskart looks at customer interactions on digital platforms from a cost-per-engagement perspective rather than cost-per-transaction.

In the retail business, personalization is critical, and more so in the online domain. It has to extend beyond merely identifying the customer and updating them about the latest promotions and product launches. Eyewear retailer, Lenskart, realised this early in the game and decided to use technology that would enable it to adapt every aspect of its business from customer communication to product-building.It was easier for the eyewear brand to do this, given its genesis as an online player. Talking about it, Amit Chaudhary, Co-founder and COO of Lenskart said, “When you think of other traditional companies that used to run as brick-and-mortar outlets, for them moving to the digital turf was tougher. We took a few steps initially which helped us in move to the physical stores rapidly. To give an example, our stores won’t work if they don’t have online connectivity, as everything is remotely connected to the Internet where every system is talking to each other.”
Since, Lenskart has over 450 stores across India, this constant connectivity helps in seamless inventory management across its online and offline channels. Irrespective where the orders are placed from across the country, they are uploaded straight on the ERP system. Given that a single factory provides all products pan-India, this technology integration has helped the company achieve better operational scale.

THE EARLY MOVER ADVANTAGE
At a time when retail companies were still debating whether an omnichannel presence was viable, Lenskart decided to take a plunge nonetheless. This was a prudent move, because a Redseer Consulting report recently highlighted that only 3% shopping in India is done online. Chaudhary said that the company is already reaping the benefits of its timely thinking, though it did face its fair share of challenges along the way. “We see retail in a very different way. People are still contemplating whether omnichannel will work or not, while we are already enjoying the fruits of that. For us, the challenge is how to stay ahead of the tech curve all the time. Simple things like instead of tickers to count traffic at the stores, we use beacons where we map the consumer journey – whether it is coming first from online and then offline, or first offline and then online,” he stated.

ADOPTING A TECH-FIRST APPROACH
Lenskart has always adopted a tech-first business approach and looks at its customer interaction from a cost-per-engagement perspective rather than cost-per-transaction. “You have to keep on with this engagement. So, how to build this engagement and keep it fresh all the time is a challenge and opportunity that we have,” Chaudhary stated.  Going ahead, Lenskart plans to invest heavily on its online and offline presence to sustain its growth in the Indian market. Overall, the vision of the company is to cover 50% of the country.  “The near goal in 2020 would be to take substantial marketshare in key markets like Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and start going to the tier-3 cities with 81 stores. Today, we are sitting at consumer base of 7 million and how can we take these 7 million to 20 million over the next two and half years. So these are the problems which we are trying to solve and all this channels whatever we are building is supporting that,” Chaudhary stated.  In addition to covering the national market, Lenskart is also planning an international foray by entering the Southeast Asian markets within a year and half. Throughout this expansion plans, the company will continue to leverage technology to deliver a superior omnichannel experience to consumers. Chaudhary feels that being tech-focused is the need of the hour not just for Lenskart, but for the entire retail industry. “If retailers have to grow at even 10% year-on-year, they have to innovate and consolidation will happen without the technology. Still there are 99% of the retail business which doesn’t manage that inventory on ERP. To scale up consumerism you will need better processes to manage a physical store and you will need solutions to be implemented there,” he pointed out.  According to him, while brand power can attract consumers, a brand is only as good as the product and customer experience will be key differentiating factor. Without the right technology solution, retail brands won’t be able to scale their brand’s value appropriately. Amen to that.