Optics: The prices of glasses will fall because they are exaggerated – Economy


The purchase of glasses is often the soup with a grimace. Ask around, the answers will fuse: "It is a scandal the prices asked"; "The glasses are so expensive"; "I paid more than 1000 francs for my new progressive glasses, a madness." All this may change, because the low-cost telescope sold on the web arrives in Switzerland.

For a long time, the juicy margins of the sector have not been called into question. The island of chert Swiss played full. As a result, brands and distributors, such as EssilorLuxottica, have benefited greatly. All good things come to an end. Today, glasses sold at a discounted price on the internet – up to 5 times less expensive than in stores – upset the deal.

It is true that the telescope remains a lucrative business. "It is more profitable to sell glasses than cocaine," loosely, with humor, Pierre Wizman, co-founder of the online sales site Polette. A brand mount made 10 francs in China can be resold 300 francs in Switzerland. Same for the glasses. "More than 80% of glasses and frames are made at low cost in Asia," recalls an optician anxious to anonymity. Such margins can no longer be justified.

The options will suffer

Faced with competition from the web (VIU, glasses for all, Sensee, Polette, etc.), opticians may suffer. "Indeed market shares are redistributing and some small players could disappear, especially the self-employed who can not afford to invest in digital tools," says Marc-Etienne Berdoz, founder of Berdoz Vision Audition.

It could turn out to be a tsunami. In Switzerland, the optics market is extremely fragmented. If the presence of optical giants is marked, independent opticians remain numerous. "These represent about two-thirds of the approximately 1050 optical stores in the country," said Dominic Ramspeck, spokesman for the umbrella organization Optiquesuisse. They make about half of the annual turnover of the sector, which amounts to 1.3 billion francs. "Of these 700 independent specialist stores, about 150 are in French-speaking Switzerland. All will not survive.

In truth, optical professionals are already under pressure. In the sector, fares have fallen by around 15 per cent since 2015. Purchasing tourism caused by the rise in the Swiss franc and the price transparency offered by the Internet is having its effects. And that's just beginning! While the end of the month sometimes becomes difficult, consumers are more and more fond of bargains.

Zoom on Polette. The young company sells its low cost glasses online in Switzerland. "We sell for less than 70 francs titanium frames that we usually find at 400 francs in the trade," says Pierre Wizman. Same thing for glasses. "We offer four ranges of glasses that range from 15 to 100 francs per pair, all options included, the most expensive being reserved for very strong corrections." What to be equipped in glasses for less than 180 francs.

Business seems to be turning. "We are averaging more than 200 orders a day from Switzerland, for a growth rate of nearly 40% this year."

Aware of the danger, the big chains have begun to adapt. "We also have a low cost offer for 69 francs, a frame and two glasses, for a simple correction, says Marc-Etienne Berdoz. For progressive lenses with the mount, it takes 269 francs. "The Visilab group has also surfed this wave since last year with its subsidiary + Vision. "First prize, you can find a complete scope with progressive lenses for 149 francs, and for 49 francs with single glasses," says Daniel Mori, president of Visilab. But that's still entry-level models. The bill for glasses will go up if you add anti-reflective options and other treatments to protect against scratches.

Do cheap sellers on the web scare the chains? "I'm not saying it's not a threat, but their market share remains weak today," says Marc-Etienne Berdoz. Spearhead of competition online, Pierre Wizman wants to be confident. "With an average of 4,500 orders per day, we sell between 8,000 and 12,000 glasses daily in Europe." In 2018, Polette achieved a turnover of more than 50 million euros. "We make our mark on the volume," he continues.

Internet and shops

The giants of classical optics doubt a model essentially based on the internet. "I do not believe in the business of strictly online glasses in the long term, says Daniel Mori. Customers do not want to travel 100 kilometers to adjust their glasses. Only a web proposal coupled with a complete network of stores, offering glasses, lenses and eye exams, is viable. "In this spirit, + Vision will launch its low cost site" between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 ".

Marc-Etienne Berdoz goes in the same direction. "We will offer next year a concept of" web to store ", where the customer can make his purchase online and make adjustments in store." For him, the leg of the optician remains indispensable, both the Buying glasses is a complex act difficult to digitize. "The adjustment of the glasses is sensitive, it depends on the position on the nose, the posture of the person, which is decisive for the centering of the glasses."

This would be especially true for progressive lenses, which primarily correct presbyopia, but can also correct myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism. "We do not sell progressive lenses online at Visilab, because these high-tech products require direct contact with the optician to achieve a quality result," adds Daniel Mori.

Marc Wizman sees things differently. His clients place their order directly on the web, entering the parameters of the prescription written by an ophthalmologist or an optician. "Tests conducted by French and Belgian TVs have demonstrated the quality of our products." Everything seems to roll, therefore.

Created: 10.11.2019, 17:58

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