Last week, eyewear business Bailey Nelson launched its 100th store – a milestone that coincided with the brand’s 10-year anniversary.
The new store in Frankston, Victoria, is the first of its kind: showcasing a new layout that will be replicated in future stores, new collections and an ‘OPTOS’ machine – a state-of-the-art imaging tool that allows the business’ optometrists to view a customer’s retina at four times the resolution.
“We identified Frankston as a crucial catchment for Bailey Nelson,” said co-founder and CEO Nick Perry.
“With the busy roll-out of new stores taking place, Frankston was chosen as the 100th store to take advantage of rapid growth in business and employment in the area, and to deliver to consumers in the region who have been asking for our services locally.”
In the past decade, Bailey Nelson has gone from small-time disruptor operating almost entirely online, to one of the most popular eyewear chains across Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada.
Key to the business’ success, Perry said, is Bailey Nelson’s price point, and its commitment to do optometry differently than its competitors.
“We’re around a third to half of the price of an independent, or an OPSM, so we have a really clear price advantage over our competitors,” Perry told Inside Retail. “Plus, we’re a modern retail experience, with passionate staff.”
And, while it took Bailey Nelson 10 years to get to 100 stores, it doesn’t plan on waiting another decade to get to 200: Perry expects to double the size of the business in the next three years, opening at least 25 stores a year.
In addition to store growth, Bailey Nelson is planning on ramping up its omnichannel experience by improving the customer experience across its website and social media, as well as launching a mobile commerce application that will use augmented reality and virtual try-on technology – something that has already helped drive a 600 per cent increase in sales throughout the pandemic.
“On the product side, our model resonates with consumers of all ages. We are proud to have made buying eyewear a joyful experience that’s accessible to everyone, no matter their budget,” Perry said.
“Over the last two years, we’ve also invested in growing our technology and executive management teams in Australia and Canada. We know where we need to get to and are developing the infrastructure and people power to make that happen.
“Our goal is for a Bailey Nelson store to be in every major shopping precinct across Australia, New Zealand and Canada.”
Keeping customers in focus
Bailey Nelson’s relationship with its customers is incredibly important, Perry said. The business is rated as the ‘Best Optical Retailer’ on ProductReview.com.au, with a score of 4.8 out of 5.
“One of the most important changes we made within the first 12 months of the business was to include optometry,” Perry said. “It completely changed the business, and meant that we were no longer just providing products for our customers but are actually responsible for their health. And that creates a really strong relationship.”
Compared with other parts of retail, which could experience purchases multiple times a week, customers typically need new glasses only every two years or so, as their eyesight continues to change or when their previous frames break or go missing.
However, Perry said some customers tend to buy new frames at Bailey Nelson every nine to 10 months – around two times more often than the industry average.
Plus, the medical nature of the purchase means that while online is a strong feature of Bailey Nelson’s business, stores are still the best place to get the full experience.
“When we launched 10 years ago, the thought was, ‘Let’s try to push as many people toward buying glasses online’, but that’s not really our focus anymore,” Perry said.
“More than 95 per cent of our customers will browse our website before coming into our stores, so we’re really seeing [Bailey Nelson] as an omnichannel experience now.”