Lenstore: Our story so far
Our founder Mitesh Patel was recently invited to No. 10 Downing Street. It couldn’t have come at a better time and it’s the perfect way to commemorate Lenstore’s 5th birthday!
For a young start-up business to rocket to such prominence within its first 5 years is a true achievement – and we couldn’t have done it without you! That’s why we feel it’s time to share our story so far.
From humble beginnings
In 2008, buying contact lenses online was relatively unheard of in the UK and many people didn’t even know it was an option. However, it was becoming very popular in Sweden and other European countries. Mitesh and co-founder Olga Nuryaeva found the idea of offering this service to UK customers very appealing. The business model was working in other countries, and there was certainly a gap in the UK market for a leading online retailer of contact lenses.
As with many start-ups, the first few months of our company consisted of a small team working out of tiny 80sq foot office, as you can see in the picture! The website was launched on 11th June 2008, and we received our first ever order that week – thank you Daniela from Surrey! We were up to 10 orders a day within our first month and reached 1,000 orders on 5th October 2008.
Expanding beyond 80sq foot
From the very beginning we had a heavy focus on customer satisfaction. We have always had a ‘keep every customer happy’ mantra, from making sure our website is easy to use, to offering fantastic customer service and quick delivery times. This meant that orders were soon flooding in, and we found that we had outgrown our pokey 80sq foot office.
In October 2010, Lenstore moved to a larger building which had office space with a conjoining warehouse facility. One thing that was clear to co-founders Mitesh and Olga right from the beginning was that it was vital that all the Lenstore team worked together under one roof. Both had seen other companies split departments across different locations to cut operational costs, but they decided that this wasn’t the best way for Lenstore to work – both culturally and economically.
The new building offered much more space. We could now keep a much larger stock of products and there was room to house the ever-expanding Lenstore team. This was great because holding larger stock allowed us to dispatch more orders on the same day, which meant our customers would receive their orders faster.
Around the same time, we developed the technology to estimate the dispatch date for every product – and every individual prescription - that we sell. We developed this to help to make our customers’ lives easier, as they would now know straight away how quickly we could post their order to them.
This was fantastic for us, as we were able to make promises to our customers that we knew we could keep. It also had a huge impact on customer satisfaction – and we now have over 100,000 happy customers and counting!
Keeping every customer happy
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we are constantly looking for ways that we can improve our services to make their lives easier. We’ve always firmly believed that contact lens wearers should have easy access to professional optical advice between visits to their optician. That’s why from very early on we have had an in-house Clinical Team of qualified opticians and highly trained optical advisors. They work alongside our customer services team to offer professional advice to our customers whenever they need it. We also developed ‘Your Online Optical Clinic’ which is a service that allows customers to login to their own private area of our website and have all their optical questions answered by our Clinical Team.
Moments of glory
Lenstore’s success has attracted quite a bit of attention over the last 6 months. Mitesh was invited to No. 10 Downing Street on 5th June to meet the Prime Minister at an event to commend and discuss small businesses in the UK. For Lenstore to be represented at such an exclusive event is hugely motivating for our entire team.
This followed our success at being ranked 10th in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 for 2012. According to their league table, we are the 10th fastest growing private company in the UK! How cool is that? And we couldn’t have achieved this without our loyal customers, so thank you!
In May, Mitesh and Olga visited Sir Richard Branson’s house to attend the annual Fast Track award ceremony where they picked up Lenstore’s award, which you can see in the picture.
Onwards and upwards
Photo by Rikesh Tailor
For us, our 5th birthday is a celebration of what has been achieved as much as it is a time to look forward to the future. We believe there are always things you can do to improve service, and the next big thing we have in store for our customers is an Auto Re-Order option, so there will be no need to worry about forgetting to re-order your contact lenses ever again.
The service will be tailored to everyone individually so that you can easily change the re-order date to best suit you. If you’re happy with the date, we will take care of everything else, ensuring that your lenses are delivered on time.