How Specsmakers grew from single to 290+ stores brand in 10 years

Pratik Shah, founder of Specsmakers

Chennai: The decade witnessed booms in several businesses. Eye wear industry in India also saw new players emerging to offer plethora of products for customers. One major front runner in this field is Specsmakers. What started as single store optical business in Anna Nagar, Chennai, the brand today has about 295 stores in 34 cities across India. Speaking to News Today, 41-year-old Pratik Shah, founder of Specsmakers, shares his journey.

After studying and working in US as a research analyst, Pratik returned to Chennai to take care of his family’s business, “Venkateshwara Opticals”. “It was a decision made by chance when I wanted to get into retail,” he says. Armed with experience and skills as a research analyst, Pratik started gathering data on customers’ design and price preferences for eye wear. “I worked for three years,” he recalls. “Soon in 2008, our business was rebranded as Specsmakers.”

Tapping market potential
Pratik walks through how he steered his business into path of exponential growth. “Ours was a very small shop but I felt the market had potential to have an affordable brand,” he explains. “Our idea was to provide eye wear of high quality for customers at affordable price.” Pratik adds, “We were also the only brand to launch unconditional warranty. So, if your specs are broken within a year, it will be replaced free of cost.” He found this to be a key advantage in gaining faith and trust from customers.

He then speaks about his company’s website. Pratik says, “We are not an e-commerce company but we made a website as a look book for customers to know the type of designs available with us.” He notes, “Our analysis has shown that an average customer checks about 8-10 specs before selecting one. Also, unlike apparels, eye wear is a one time buy and you use it for atleast two-three years.” He aims to expand his stores’ foot print to more cities in India.

Tricks of trade
Pratik shares tips to run a business. Having interned with Walmart as customer executive and later at Morgan Stanley as a research analyst, he says he learned what a customer needs, wants and how to conduct market research. “It helped me get metrics of little details,” he says. “Research helps you get a lot of information and helps you understand a business.’ Pratik signs off saying, “Business is not easy. It is a tough like surfing over waves. You go up one day and may go down the next day. But by offering great customer support and having good market knowledge, you can flow through the waves.”

Mohammed Rayaan