Kultura Zreniia: or how I learned to stop worrying and order glasses online

We talked with Andrey Kazyev, head of the online direction of the "Kultura Zreniya" optical store chain about the particularities of the online spectacle correction market, the promotion of the online store and plans for development.

Andrey Kazyev

Head of the online direction of the «Kultura Zreniya» optical store chain

How did it all start? How did you come to the company?

I started working with the «Kultura Zreniya» company in 2015 as the head of development of one of the prominent Ural web studios. We won the tender for the development of the site, and I took the project to work, as earlier I had already managed to implement two projects of similar subjects and accumulated good experience. After finishing work on the site, I planned to leave the sphere of development and to closely engage in my business. But the project attracted me so much that even after finishing my career in the web studio I continued to work on it, now as a technical manager of the online direction of the «Kultura Zreniya» optical store chain.

What was your task?

The task was quite complicated. It was necessary to develop not just an online store, but a solution for online spectacle correction purchasing. In other words, to make a simple and understandable user functionality to purchase glasses over the Internet. No, not sunscreen and not just frames, but frames together with lenses, that is, full-featured spectacles for vision correction. The task was complicated by the fact that no one did this before. Seriously. That's why we started to study the experience of the Western market. For comparison, the share of the online spectacle correction market in the United States is about 15%, and in Russia is just 3%.

The accompanying functionality of the website was to be sections on sale of contact lenses, sunglasses, accessories, the possibility to book a free appointment with a specialist in our salons and much more.

How long did it take to develop the site?

At that time the word started spreading about Scrum and Agile, some web studios even assured that they effectively use these methodologies in their work. But progress has not reached us yet, and we worked in the old manner. Actually, like the vast majority of web studios back then. This means that we did the project in a whole, and until it is thought out, designed, drawn, until all the logic of the site is coded, it will not appear on the Internet.

For the note: if you are planning a complex project, think also about the fact that it may not be necessary to wait for its full development, and it will be reasonable to lay out a small part of the functionality and start working, and then improve and complicate. In our case, we could first put a section with contact lenses on the site and start earning, then add a section dedicated to sunglasses and accessories, then a section for spectacle correction, the blog and so on.

As a result, it took us 9 months to develop the web site. But it is worth noting that the structure of the site was well thought out and all the necessary functionality for SEO-promotion was already there. There was nothing to redo. There is often a situation when a web site was ordered in one place, and then a promotion was ordered in another. The promo guys would then tell you that the site structure is not suitable for promotion, and that everything has to be redone. Such desperate clients came to us from time to time.

What channels of attracting customers do you develop?

The contextual advertising, search promotion, Yandex Market, mailing, social networks, content marketing. We are experimenting with bloggers.

Among other things, we have a clear marketing planning. There are always some promotions or lotteries with good prizes. We do lotteries in an honest way via Instagram broadcast, and the results are always there in our social networks and on our web site for everyone to see. In example, we had a lottery for an annual supply of lenses. Interestingly, the girl who made an order on the last day of the lottery won.

How much money do you spend on the development of an online store?

We spend the necessary amount of money to ensure smooth operation of the department at medium speed. We are not trying to increase the volumes at the moment, we are busy optimizing the business processes of the department and the work of operators and warehouse. Increasing the number of orders can have a negative impact on the quality of service, and we cannot take such a step. Therefore, the budget is calculated based on the required number of orders per day. For the time being, the task is to technically optimize and automate processing and logistics without detriment to the time and quality.

What do people worry about when purchasing glasses online?

For us, this problem is very relevant. As I said, the online market of spectacle correction is not being developed well in our country. If people learned how to buy contact lenses via the Internet more or less, then buying glasses causes some fears that you have to work with. Basically, spectacles cost from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of rubles, depending on the frame and complexity of the lenses. For many, this is a serious purchase, and some people are not ready to give their money without making sure that the glasses will really suit them and look good on them. In such cases, you can order a free fitting of the frame in one of our salons, and for even more convenience, we are developing an online fitting application with which you can see how any frame from the catalog looks on your face in real time. To do this, you just need to turn on the camera or upload your photograph to the web site.

Customers are also afraid that they would not see well wearing new spectacles. That is, the lenses themselves will not be suitable. In such cases, we invite you to visit our ophthalmologist for free before ordering. You can book a visit directly on the website or by phone. The ophthalmologist will check your vision on professional equipment and give all necessary recommendations.

We have a warranty program, in which we commit to replace any purchased lenses free of charge if the client has not been able to get used to them for two weeks. The only condition is to check your vision in our store prior to purchase.

Finally, there is a fear of a defect. In other words: «What if, by chance, my spectacles will arrive broken or scratched?» We strictly monitor the quality and appearance of each sent unit. However, if some accident happens by chance, i.e. the frames break or the lenses drop out, we will repair them free of charge, or simply replace them.

By the way, many are still afraid to pay by card online. And that's in 2019, when contactless payments by telephone, the Internet banking and even payment bracelets are already commonplace. In this regard, we do our best to make the web site safe. We installed an SSL-certificate purchased from Syncweb, which protects the user's connection to the site, and payment is made through a separate secure page of the banking system, so we do not have any access to the payment data of our customers. Nevertheless, not everyone understands this, unfortunately.

How do you deal with the fear of online eyewear purchases?

First, we try to present our company as an optical store where we don't just sell glasses, but care for the vision of our customers. People buy glasses more than once in their lives, this purchase has its periodicity, and we are interested in people coming to us again for new glasses. Is it possible to expect that the customer will return if at the first purchase you served them poorly or sold low-quality goods? The answer is obvious.

This is the position we try to convey to our customers. We write articles on the site ourselves, we make email-mailings in which we try to answer current questions. We try to explain that ordering glasses online is actually not as scary as it may seem. We are interested in each customer, we want them to return. For that reason we implement warranty programs, provide information support, try to be closer to our customers. We write posts to our social networks, interact with the clients. We communicate, for example, we respond to every review or comment on the social network. We plan to conduct live broadcasts, where customers can ask questions on the topic.

It gives its results. Customers who once decided to purchase glasses online immediately understand how convenient it is and they make their subsequent orders online as well. We are pleased that the number of such people is growing. Perhaps not as fast as we would like, but the growth is noticeable.

What are the plans for the development of the online store?

I already said that we are a company that cares about the vision of our customers. The point is that this concern is manifested everywhere — in the salon, on our phone line, and in the online store. Therefore, the site must also manifest this care. How? — By being convenient and functional. For example, by individually reminding you of the need for a scheduled vision check, the need to replace glasses or lenses. By telling the balance of bonus points and how to spend them in a better way. The site should be personalized, understand the client’s preferences and suggest suitable models of frames, and not just show everyone the same thing. There should be a convenient online fitting of the glasses, order system, as well as the return system, if it is necessary. And much more, this list can be continued.

In addition, we plan to scale the web site to the whole of Russia. We already sell to regions, but we plan to increase market share. We will expand the range of services of specialists.

All this is a huge amount of work, but we are ready for it. We understand where to go and how to develop with a customer focus. Our goal is not just a shop, but an online service that will help people with vision issues. That's what distinguishes us from our competitors.

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