Hello Everyone on today’s episode of the Leantale Interview Series our guest is Sudhanshu Bhasin. He is the founder of lensbazaar.com and let me tell you about LensBazaar.com – One Stop solution for all your contact lens requirements. A leading website for direct to consumer selling of contact lenses.
So let’s start and ask Sudhanshu how everything is started.
Ajeet- What was the time when you realized the idea to be an Entrepreneur? Also, what is your backstory .
Sudhanshu- Basically when we are progressive and start choosing the fields after our high school, we can say a seed of Entrepreneurship is rooted in our life. It was 2000 when I was in my senior secondary school and I got the idea to be into the e-commerce field.
Actually e-commerce used to be a very fancy word at that time and when I was in my 8th standard, email services were being introduced to the world and people were invited to sign up their account. From that very particular moment, I started realising that I am very much interested in this field.
My father is a businessman in the optical industry and hence I have always been very into this field. So I always wanted to choose online business and after when I went to college, I realised that my idea is getting stronger.
Ajeet- Why did you choose only the optical industry when you could have other ideas too?
Sudhanshu- My grandfather has worked in the dental and optical field before partition even when he was in Pakistan and after this my father continued this tradition. I actually wanted to take this business online rather than be off-line.
This optical field is a very specialised field and if we see, we will find that almost 8 to 10% of the world’s population wears contact lenses. And one of the stereotypes is that these people who wear contact lenses are supposed to be very particular especially in our India, a contact lens customer is really treated in a luxury segment. This was something which led me to work on the traditional business. So we basically focus on the contact lenses and almost 99.9% of our business revenue is collected via the same.
Ajeet- Will you please tell me about how the lens Bazaar is different from lenskart?
Sudhanshu- This is actually the most important thing which you have asked and actually you should know about it because you are going to spread it. I will tell three basic examples through which you would be able to understand about the same.
First of all, lens Bazaar is purely a contact lens brand based business. It means that you will not find any Korean, Taiwan, Chinese or any other place’s contact lens on lens Bazaar. You will find only branded and number one contact lenses here.
We have world’s for biggest manufacturer contact lenses- Johnson and Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, Alcon and CooperVision. On the other hand if you visit lenskart, you can find lenses at very cheap prices and they are not premier or the branded one. They offer lenses which are imported from China or Taiwan.
So we only promote premium quality lenses and we don’t go for any Chinese or fake products.
Actually the thing is that like you can compromise in choosing your shirt but when it comes to your eyes, you cannot compromise with the quality and the prices between premium and and premium is not so high. The second difference is, Lens Bazaar is a purely privately funded business.
We have not taken funds from any private equity and we don’t have any exit strategy for our business. We have our long-term strategy for business and we are here to serve our customers.
Third thing is that the main business of lenskart is spectacle frames, not contact lenses. Our main focus is contact lens, not spectacle.
Ajeet- Yes, got it. So my next question is like what kind of challenges have you faced while taking your business from offline to online?
Sudhanshu- I had conceived lens Bazaar in 2004 and started it in 2009. Between 2011 and 2012, we had officially launched our website in India. We have a Customer base of three points- marketing, our online advertisement, customer service and repeat customer. These are four ways in which we have made our customer base. We do not promote customers by giving cheap or free offers.
Ajeet- What is your perception about the team and how do you organise it?
Sudhanshu- The most important point about the team is that it is very crucial in terms of providing customer service.
The thing is that we do not have the customer physically so we have people to convey the information to our customers online. So we have a quantity of people as a team who work as a service provider.
We do listen to the recording of the conversation in between these two- service providers and the customer, and then we observe if the information which is given is correct or not.
We do check as if the customer is getting relevant information because this is on a quality basis. It gives us strength.
Another thing is that today everyone wants fast delivery so we do think about how we can provide a very fast delivery within 24 hours.
If your services are not satisfactory, you may lose the chances of repeat customers. And if you’re not having repeat customers in e-commerce, you automatically lose the chance of success for your business.
So this is how we always make sure about three things- customer service, training & start and full involvement of the promoter with the current team.
Ajeet- What is the biggest challenge you have faced during your journey in lens Bazar and how did you overcome that?
Sudhanshu – Actually the biggest problem is about funding. Our main objective is to stay in the market and present the quality products to our customers. This needs an ample amount of funds as we have to run operations, customer service, arrange the rent of the buildings and then there comes the expectation of our staff too apart from the customers because they also want a handsome salary. So you have to plan a strategy to arrange funds whether it is from a bank loan or something else.
Ajeet- So what are your future plans regarding lens Bazar?
Sudhanshu- Before this pandemic condition, we actually had planned to take our business internationally but somehow we could not do it. The thing is that we are doing our business with educated people and they are already doing work from home. So now they don’t need to wear expensive lenses as they somehow arrange their routine through spects. So our basic future plan is to take our business internationally because we are having 10 to 15% of our orders from international level.
Ajeet- What kind of tools do you use to manage your business and communicate with the team?
Sudhanshu – There are so many tools to communicate and develop the business but our main focus is on proprietary tools. Basically we are a contact lens seller but at the same time we also make technical IT solutions. We have a chat system to communicate with the team like we connect on Skype and we establish a secure method to exchange the files. We monitor the members of our team as to what kind of activities he is conducting.
Ajeet- What books would you like to recommend to a person who wants to start a business?
Sudhanshu- ‘Getting competitive’ is the most valuable book written by RC Bhardwaj which I would like to recommend to a person who wants to start a business. RC Bhardwaj is the chairman of Maruti company and if you read his books, you will come to know about the secrets of a successful business because Maruti is a big brand of India.
Ajeet- Any advice which you would like to give to someone who wants to start a business just after finishing the college?
1. My number one suggestion is that if a person is going to start a business, he must have a very clear and long-term objective.
2. Secondly there must be consistency at each and every aspect of life like I do my breakfast at 9 o’clock daily and I do the observation of the report at 7 o’clock in the evening. I have to know each day at 9 o’clock in the night about how many new customers have been added to our business.
This is my consistent routine each day. These are two basic things which one should consider in its life.
The people who want to enter into an e-commerce business, I would like to give a third suggestion to them like don’t give advertisements to the third person but advertise yourself on your own.
Advertisement is the basic thing which can take your business to the top or till the deadline of bottom. Hence it must be very particular and clever. Your business must be a target of survival. Maintain the innovation to escape your customers from going to your competitors.
Ajeet- So my next question is like what are the three key learnings you are having till this date through your business?
Sudhanshu- First key to learning survival. How long you can survive in your business and how many numbers of customers you can take to your platform. So the very first key learning is that we must have a survival strategy. As you are aware of the situation before and after the pandemic. People crashed their revenue and fired their employees which let their company to shut down. This was actually happened because they did not have any survival strategy.
Second key learning about lowering the cost. Try to lower your cost every year. Every year your cost may increase but customers are always seen asking for a discount. So now you have to plan a strategy to know what your cost is. If you don’t do the same, I’m telling you this is the biggest killer of business. The third key learning is about improving margins. Suppose I have a customer who is getting our services for the past five years and they complain that we are not lowering our price for him. So now we may have the chance to lose our margin of revenue. Hence we have to manage all its strategies accordingly.
Ajeet- Great sir! It was really nice talking to you. Thank you so much for your time.
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