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Vision Direct to open flagship bricks-and-mortar store

Vision Direct is pulling a Warby Parker.

The local online glasses business on Thursday announced plans to open its first bricks-and-mortar store in Melbourne on 1 May.

The 90-square-metre space on Bourke Street will be a one-stop-shop, offering access to designer eyewear at online prices, eye testing and examinations, as well as a showroom featuring visual and interactive displays.

“The Vision Direct Optical Centre is a first of its kind for physical brand experience,” Vision Direct CEO and co-founder David Menning said.

“The world-first centre will not only offer visual and interactive displays to deliver a more holistic, seamless and stress-free shopping experience, but also offer the best professional optometry advice, latest products, style trends and innovation,” he added.

To launch the flagship store, the online retailer partnered with Melbourne-based Chester Eyeware, a family-run business known for offering free eye tests and luxury, quality frames.

“Chester Eyewear share key values with Vision Direct when it comes to community support and expanding into online and offline channels, this was a perfect match,” Menning said, referring to Vision Direct’s buy-one-give-one initiative, which gives a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased.

The world’s largest range of designer glasses online

Vision Direct’s offline move comes 10 years after Menning and co-founders Doron Kalinko and Tony Zhuang started the business as an online-only retail outlet in 2008.

By sourcing products from factories in Italy and having in-house optometrists create new prescription lenses to order, they were able to offer low prices on designer glasses brands.

And by making delivery and returns quick, easy and transparent, they were able to convince customers to buy glasses online without trying them on first.

Over the years, Vision Direct has continued to go from strength to strength, offering extras like a free 24-month warranty against manufacturers’ defects on sunglasses and glasses and a free three-month warranty on all contact lenses, as well as 3D virtual try-on tools to make it even easier for customers to pick out the right pair of frames online.

Today, the site claims to have the largest range of designer eyeware online in the world, with more than 80,000 products on offer.

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