The number of independent optical retailers ECP dropped from 58% in late 90s to 49% during first decade of 2000s. This is a known process where the larger chains leverage on their buying power and logistics taking the headway in the competition. This is magnified even further during times of challenge, when the consumer market buying power drops. Naturally, most of the suppliers in the market focus on the larger accounts, including significant discounts reserved only for sharks. The independent eye care practices are left behind. They pay the highest prices in shortest payment terms. In most cases, they cannot meet the aggressive competition pricing.
In other market segments, and up and coming trend is for independent retailers to associate in order to improve purchasing terms and leverage on a mutual agenda. In eye care business, buying groups provide a partial solution only to private practitioners, as purchasing of raw material does not cover all deficiencies competing against the chain stores.
Online eyewear sales are also becoming a serious issue affecting the ECPs by taking away much of the eyeglasses revenues. K-Mars came into this scenario with a different agenda, supporting independent ECPs and private eye care practices with supplies, lab services and a logistic backbone, countering the competitive advantages so far gained by the large firms only. This shouldn’t be too hard to believe, nor are these empty words. In this reality, K-Mars’ business model is based on the needs of the independent ECPs. This rationale results in a simple equation: K-Mars Optical gains by supporting independent ECPs, and has been expanding its serviced customer base since 1998.
What K-Mars brings to the table is a complete suite of services, placing the independent ECP head-to-head with the chain stores. It is about cost of frames, lenses and lab work, it’s about logistic backbone and virtual inventory of frames and Lens packages saving the ECP substantial amounts of money. We have even invested in an ECP website and online retail solution setting up every ECP with a fully customized website and online eyewear outlet at a fraction of what it would normally cost.
This is only common business sense.