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Online glasses platform Clens lets consumers swap in new lenses for their frames

Just about every kind of product or service imaginable is now available to be bought or paid for online and delivered to your door, there’s rarely any surprise now discovering new services.

There are, however, services that are easily ignored because they’re a little less flashy than, say, buying a car online and having it delivered to your home with a bow on the bonnet, and one of them is Clens, which allows users to buy new lenses for their glasses online and send their frames in for a swap-over.

The platform looks to offer a cheaper and more accessible alternative to paying the weightier costs at an optometrist.

The service is an offshoot of Australia-based ecommerce platform Sneaking Duck, an online frames and lenses business. The startup extends its products globally, offering free delivery anywhere in the world in addition to 12 months warranty and a free-return trial period for Australians.

For one of the startup’s cofounder, Kim Heras, developing Clens meant responding directly to the customer needs the team had come across through Sneaking Duck, as he explained the business saw “tons” of customers who wanted to “upgrade” their lenses without swapping their beloved frames.

“Over the years we did this as a ‘secret service’ for some of our best customers, but then requests for the service started coming through more and more frequently in line with the increased interest in recycling and upcycling,” he said.

“We looked into the pure lens replacement market and realised that, while the full glasses market had been completely disrupted by companies like Warby Parker and Sneaking Duck, the lens replacement market was still more or less the same way it had been for decades.”

Sneaking Duck, which has offered its products online for roughly five years, was developed within startup studio 25Fifteen, “a startup which builds startups”. The business collaborates with external founders as well as developing internal projects with the goal of commercialising new startup ideas.

“We also have the team at 25Fifteen as cofounders, which has brought incredible experience in starting and growing startups to the business from day one,” said Heras.

Discussing the perks of developing a new platform off the back of a successful ecommerce site with an established customer base, Heras said it has been “amazing” in helping the business navigate the early marketing and distribution issues most startups face early on.

“In terms of launching the new service to market, we’re lucky in that there are tens of thousands of people who know, love, and have had some sort of direct interaction with Sneaking Duck who we were able to tell about Clens,” he explained.

“From a technical point of view, Clens reuses much of the Sneaking Duck platform, that has, for five years, been one of the best online optical dispensing platforms in the world.”

Achieving success for the business, according to Heras, will come from a focus on customer service and ensuring a high quality of product, something which was established early on in the startup’s lifetime in 25Fifteen.

“[It was] an approach that was built into our DNA early by our cofounders Mark Capps, Mike Knapp, Michael Fox, and Jodie Fox,” he said.

Within both of platforms, users are able to claim back their purchases, as the business is set up as an authorised provider for all major health funds. New lenses start from $90 for both standard and non-prescription products, with each including anti-scratch, anti-glare, and UV protection coatings in addition to the free shipping.

The platform, like Sneaking Duck, works by having a consumer first go to their optometrist to get their prescription, which they can then send through to the Clens, or have Clens get it directly from the optometrist. Once this is done, they can select what type of lens they need.

They then receive a reply paid package and information detailing where to send their glasses for servicing, at which point the lens are fitted in and sent back.

Heras said the process typically takes around five days within most capital cities, extending longer for more “complicated lenses” and distant locations.

With a new service on the market, Heras said the business hasn’t yet raised despite receiving “inbound interest”, although that may change depending on the speed at which the business grows its partnerships.

Currently, Heras said Clens has three undisclosed partners that the business offers its services to, with “good interest” from other international and local parties signalling the potential for more partnerships in future.

As for sales, Heras said he has a “key metric” of how many prescription lenses the startup aims to create this year, which will act as a key objective for the business moving forward.

Image: Kim Heras. Source: Supplied.

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