Normally, people who need to use prescription glasses go to an optometrist to have their eyes checked and pick out a pair of glasses. But with the undeniable growth of e-commerce in Asia, Philippine-based startup Four Eyes lets its customers purchase glasses online.
Four Eyes has collections of eyeglasses categorized “for him” and “for her.” Launched in May, Four Eyes co-founder Pavan Challa says that its main goal is to “make eyewear affordable and accessible [to everyone] in the Philippines.” Four Eyes sells its glasses at only PHP 1,495 ($34) (excluding your eye doctor’s test), only adding an additional fee of around PHP 500 ($11) to PHP 1,000 ($23) for selected lens types. This is a good price compared to frames in opticians which range from PHP 2,000 ($46) to PHP 5,000 ($115) for the eyeglass alone, depending on the brand.
Pavan explains that “the traditional eyewear supply chain model involves multiple stages such as manufacturing, importing, distribution, retail, lens processing, and sales. This is what makes glasses in the market so expensive today.” So Four Eyes cuts down the cost by covering the entire supply chain themselves. This is to “to achieve the best price while maintaining the quality of the product (including the lens processing).”
It also allows consumers to purchase eyeglasses with or without a test. Buyers will simply need to pick the desired pair, upload the doctor’s prescription (if necessary) and pick the lens type (multi-coated, bifocal, polycarbonate, or transitions). After the selection process, Four Eyes allows buyers to try the glasses at home; Pavan says that while it provides the convenience of purchasing online, the team also understands that “people like to touch, feel and wear the product before purchasing.” He adds:
We do not charge shipping fees at all. We decided that people shouldn’t have to pay for the Home Try-On service, but it should be a part of the Four Eyes buying experience.
Glasses for a good cause
Whilst creating the startup, Four Eyes also came to the realization that people in provincial areas don’t have access to the same stores or products as those in central areas of the Philippines. And some of the people in these rural places do not have the money to spare for a pair of glasses. And so Four Eyes has a Pair for a Pair program that donates a pair of prescription eyeglasses to the needy for every customer who buys from the online store. This is done by working with partner charities to deliver these glasses to those areas. Pavan says the team wants to generate enough sales “to make substantial donations to the underprivileged.” The e-commerce site’s annual target is to sell around 5,000 pairs to make this possible. To-date, it has reached about 15 percent of its target.
Pavan says there are also plans in the pipeline to enhance its business model, including a way to make the glasses even more affordable.
(Editing by: Steven Millward)