Visionworks sees big potential in its new e-commerce site
April 21, 2016 03:44 PM
Visionworks president Jim Eisen swears the online success of Warby Parker and Glasses USA LLC didn’t motivate his company’s first foray into e-commerce.
“We didn’t feel pressure,” he says. “We knew that this is something we needed to do and wanted to do.”
Visionworks, formerly Eye Care Centers of America Inc., launched its first online store Monday. The eyewear retail chain, which has more than 700 retail locations nationwide, worked with Oracle Corp. to build its site on Oracle’s ATG Web Commerce platform. Visionworks’ site features responsive design, which adapts the site to fit the screen a consumer is using, whether that’s a PC, tablet or smartphone.
“Obviously you want to test the heck out of this before you go live with it,” Eisen says. “We had the ability to do that because we didn’t need to rush to market.”
It took about 18 months from planning to execution for the new site, which offers free shipping on all orders. Visionworks.com also allows a shopper to envision how a pair of glasses would look on her in two ways. She can select from one of several models with varying face shapes or use a webcam to take a picture of herself or upload a photo to see how a pair of glasses will look on her face.
In the time leading up to the site’s launch, Visionworks built a fulfillment center specifically for online orders and a call center for e-commerce order support at its San Antonio headquarters. The retailer also hired more than 20 additional staff members, including its first director of e-commerce, Rodney Kight. Kight is an online retail veteran who previously worked at such major omnichannel retailers as GNC Holdings Inc., No. 166 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide; Golfsmith International (No. 218); and Staples Inc. (No. 5).
Visionworks is throwing its hat in the online eyewear ring at a time when several competitors are already established—and growing. Among its chief competition for online business: Luxottica Group S.p.A. (No. 86), Warby Parker (No. 197) and Glasses USA (No. 362).
Eisen says he’s banking on Visionworks’ network of bricks-and-mortar retail locations to help his company stand out from the competition online.
“I don’t believe that e-commerce is driving this process,” he says. “It’s obviously a great option, but it’s an offshoot from bricks and mortar.”
To reinforce the omnichannel model, Visionworks is launching its site offering buy online, pick up in store from each of its retail locations nationwide. “I believe an awful lot of customers are going to have their glasses delivered to the store or bring them in for an adjustment,” he says.