Dayal Opticals’ journey started in 1961 out of passion to bridge the gap between the necessity of providing quality eyewear and the luxury of owning tailored vision care products. Started by Dayal Dass Kalra, even in its nascent stages, his goal was to make complete eye care solutions available to everyone. Over the past 58 years, this passion has been handed down to generations of the family who currently manage the chain of seven stores, reinventing its offerings to stay relevant to the times.
This capability to stay ahead of the curve was evident even in its initial days. Even though the optical industry was largely unexplored back in the early 60s, Dayal Opticals took the initiative to offer quality eye-tests to customers – a service that was unavailable anywhere else – in addition to giving people the latest options in eye-care. This dedication in providing honest consultation helped them amass a vast and loyal clientele and many people still consult the founder for their eye-care needs.
TAKING OVER THE REINS
Lalit Kalra is the second generation scion of the family who took over the mantle of the business in 1980s to elevate it to a bigger brand. For the next decade, he concentrated on expanding Dayal Opticals into a chain store, especially focusing on upscale localities in South Delhi, Delhi NCR and popular malls.
Talking about this expansion, Lalit said, “To maintain store profitability and ensure that no store is shuttered, the only strategy we employed was to stay on top of the latest eyewear technologies and fashions. The well-travelled Indian consumer knows the latest styles and technologies from across the globe. We ensured that we could provide the best collections to these discerning buyers.”
However, what was a niche industry when Dayal Opticals started off, soon saw lots of competition. To gain a competitive an edge, Lalit decided that the company would be provide the best of eye care and be an optical fashion house at the same time. This strategy helped it hold its own even when larger brands like Titan Eye Plus and Vision Express embarked on an aggressive store opening spree. Lalit remarked, “These brands treat eye-care and the optical industry like fast food service, while it needs to be treated like fine dining.”
ENHANCING EYEWEAR EXPERIENCE
What also helped Dayal Opticals stay ahead of the game was their regular participation at leading fashion shows and global optical conventions. In addition to marking their presence felt at these event, it also helped Kalra stay abreast of the latest trends, especially of the global brands. He noted, “The sale of international brands is relatively higher than local brands at our stores. However, the buying trends are changing and customers are willing to buy newer and lesser known brands, like The Monk, and experiment with styles.”
Dayal Opticals is a brand that has learned the trick of leaning on its glorious heritage while presenting the best options to its loyal customer base, which has insulated it from the challenges of online eyewear business. In fact, rather than jump into the ominichannel bandwagon, it has decided to exclusively sell offline.
The trick to sustaining in the physical retail business, according to Lalit, is not to over-stock and keep the inventory moving at all times. He added, “In the rare event of a particular brand/style being in excess stock, we encourage our customers to buy the same in-store and via our social media. Sometimes, we take advantage of seasonal sales.”
Though pleased with the current offline business model, Lalit is finds that the biggest challenge Dayal Opticals faces is the relentless emergence of optical retailers and the rampant competition between online retailers. Secondly, while it known that two thirds of the country’s population needs corrective eyewear, only a quarter actually comes and gets their eye tested.
This proves that the market is big enough for existing players, and more. If only they keep their eyes focused on the ball – providing the best eyewear solutions to customers.
- Megha Monga Anand