I have always believed in the power of niche e-commerce to build sustainable businesses. Eyelation is a great example. Read on for more.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself and Eyelation.
Brad Kirschner: I’m the CEO and Founder of Eyelation. We’ve been in business since 2009. I developed a self-service safety eyewear kiosk for factories. It’s available for people to buy their prescription eyewear from. The first one was out in 2011.
Right now, we’re in about 900 companies in the United States and Canada with about 400,000 users. We manage benefits for those companies and make it easy for their people to get their protection.
Sramana Mitra: Elaborate a little bit on what’s going on in the industry. How do you differentiate?
Brad Kirschner: The prescription safety industry has not changed for many years. It has been handled in traditional ways via people going out to factories on a periodic basis and fitting people with eyewear. It could be employees having to go to one of a number of storefronts. That made it hard for people to get access to the system and it also was very challenging for people who worked on multiple shifts.
We developed a system that was available all the time. When companies require their safety equipment, it’s a requirement that everyone has access to. Anyone should have access to that no matter what their comfort level is with technology.
By providing a kiosk, we are providing this simple ATM where people can use the benefits that their company is giving them at a time that works for them without having to come in extra hours or meet up with someone.
Sramana Mitra: Where are the kiosks located?
Brad Kirschner: We put them in factories. These are large corporate customers like bottle manufacturers or food manufacturers. We’ll typically put our kiosk in the lunchroom. Think of an ATM. It’s just there all the time. When people want to order, they walk up to it.
Sramana Mitra: What percentage of your business is corporate versus individual?
Brad Kirschner: We’re solely B2B.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about the trends in B2B e-commerce and in particular, the way you are going to market with kiosks. Do you exclusively go to market with kiosks?
Brad Kirschner: The kiosk is 70% of our orders today with about 30% coming through our web platform. We see people use the kiosk as their first touchpoint. In subsequent years when it’s time to get new glasses, they’re able to get their stuff from their cellphones.
One of the key things is that it measures people for the fitting. It’s not like they’re just ordering online. We’re measuring them. We’re getting a copy of their prescription scanned at the kiosk so we’re getting their current doctor’s prescription. It provides a seamless experience for them.