Online eyewear to see more growth


keyboard, glasses, finished, workThe increasing sophistication of online stores has driven strong growth in the online eyeglasses and contact lens sales industry in Australia over the past five years, a new IbisWorld report has found.

According to IbisWorld research, over the five years through 2013-14, industry revenue is estimated to increase by an annualised 7.7 per cent to total $71.0 million. In 2013-14, revenue is expected to increase by 7.3 per cent.

“Online eyeglasses retailers have reaped the rewards of having low operating cost structures and have been able to aggressively discount their products compared with their bricks and mortar counterparts, which are faced with high labour and utility costs,” Arna Richardson, industry analyst at IbisWorld, says.

Australia’s ageing population, while boding well for eyeglasses sales in general, account for only a small portion of online sales due to their lack of technological prowess and comfort with transacting electronically. Retailers have attempted to address this issue by improving their websites to include higher levels of interactivity, such as virtual fitting rooms and other customisation options.

“Retailers are also likely to include more specialised services such as lens fitting and optometry, but will be faced with stiff competition from bricks and mortar stores that have comparable advantages in those segments,” says Richardson.

The continued growth in the online retail sector will drive new consumers to explore the online space and electronic commerce will become a mainstay of Australian consumerism.

Improved functionality on websites will particularly benefit eyeglass retailers, as greater interactivity reduces any fears of purchasing frames and lenses prior to physically trying them on.

Despite the relatively small number of players, market share concentration for the online eyeglasses and contact lens sales industry is low, with no one player commanding a significant market share. Improving consumer confidence over the next five years will drive sales of high margin products such as branded sunglasses and contact lenses as the line between functionality and fashion gets increasing blurred.

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