Welcome!

Search Authors: Jnan Dash, Shelly Palmer, Carmen Gonzalez, Lori MacVittie, Liz McMillan

News Feed Item

Visiondirect.co.uk - pioneer of online contact lens sales sees continued growth after 15 years

An overview of the monopoly breaker's foundation, development and continuing success

LONDON, Jan. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Contact lenses were extortionately expensive and unattainable in the UK unless purchased through opticians. Consumers needed and wanted to have cheaper and alternative sources for their replacement lenses. The monopoly of British opticians came to a grinding halt in 1998. An independent operator suddenly emerged and single-handedly managed to impact the UK market.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140117/MN48405)

Steffan Rygaard's pioneering company – Vision Direct – exposed the conspiracy of high-street retailers who guarded a monopoly on the price of contact lenses to further their profit margins.

Despite being a half-Dane, half-Briton raised in Zambia, Steffan Rygaard was an ordinary 26-year-old who finished his studies at Exeter University and had worked a few years as a broker in London's Square Mile. Having noticed his colleagues complaining about their jobs he decided to leave the security of his city job for a more uncertain future as an entrepreneur. He didn't realise that he was embarking on a journey that would shake the British optical industry.

Having considered the options at hand, Steffan Rygaard decided that starting a contact lens mail order company was the way forward. He was inspired by the idea of running his own business, helping people, working with databases, and being able to work from home. VisionDirect was born in a single room just big enough for a desk, a bed, a printer and a few boxes of lenses. No fancy offices, no big investors, no fuss or glory – just a single entrepreneur working hard to deliver contacts at lower prices. The market for lenses had already been transformed in countries like Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark – so why not the UK as well?

Having taken every precaution possible to ensure that customer health was safeguarded, VisionDirect issued a press release announcing their presence and stating that highly priced contact lenses were now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the British opticians' lobby group, the G.O.C, was of a different opinion. The idea that a small Battersea-based company that sold contact lenses at outlet prices could revolutionise the market seemed highly unlikely. Even though customers had to present a current prescription of their contact lenses, as well as the packaging of the lenses they were using, and had to have been wearing lenses for more than six months when ordering to get delivery, this was still not enough for the G.O.C.  Within ten months, Vision Direct was forced to shut down operations after a lengthy court ruling. The decision was made to simply continue the business from a place where the G.O.C did not have any jurisdiction.

One of Steffan's prospective customers was a journalist called Oliver James, who wrote the following as part of a column entitled 'One in the eye for competition' in the Independent in May 1998.

"... I was told of a company called Vision Direct from whom I could buy the lenses by post at half the price, a proof that the privatised companies were making a disgraceful mark-up. Until last week I have been an enthusiastic user of this wonderful service. But then, last Thursday, came the news that Vision Direct has been successfully prosecuted by the General Optical Council (GOC).

I called Vision Direct and, to my surprise, the phone was picked up by the company's founder and chairman, Stephan Rygaard. He was audibly depressed and had spent the day receiving hundreds of letters, faxes, phone calls and e-mails expressing fury. Rygaard had lost the case because the GOC, the opticians' trade body, had managed to pull the wool over a short-sighted magistrate's eyes, convincing him that the act of selling a contact lens has to be clinically supervised. On the technicality that because Vision Direct leave it to the honesty of their public to declare whether they have had a test in the past year, the company was held to be failing to act responsibly. What gives the lie to this argument is the simple fact that in Denmark, Germany and several other nations, direct mail lenses have been acceptable for some time."

The logical step for Steffan was to move his business to a place where the GOC had no jurisdiction. The Netherlands emerged as the best logistical candidate. By taking advantage of European legislation and the continued deregulation over the past decade in optics within two months of being forced out of operations, the company arose from the ashes with a new warehouse and a new phone number. Fortunately for the general public, there were now even more organizations that picked up on the idea of selling contact lenses via mail order. Hence all the GOC had really managed to do was to spite its own members by ramping up publicity for irreversible change.

15 years later, VisionDirect is still in business and still shipping from Amsterdam. The company maintains its mission to give their customers the best bargains it can. Today VisionDirect.co.uk is the largest online retailer for replacement contact lenses, proof that persistence does pay dividends.

By keeping overhead costs minimal, VisionDirect has been able to offer prices up to 80% lower than on the high street, so it is little surprise that the company is still flourishing. Additionally, a fully qualified in-house Contact Lens Optician and a UK-qualified registered Optometrist ensure that customers are in highly capable hands. At the end of 2013 the company had a consolidated turnover of €20million, was represented in most European countries, with over 40 employees and a database of plus 500,000 wearers. Again, testament that VisionDirect.co.uk was worth the effort and that our customer base is loyal to our beliefs.

Follow Visiondirect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and our blog.

Written by Jens Håkanson on behalf of Steffan Rygaard

Media Contact:  Jens Hakanson, Visiondirect.co.uk, 084-474-5454, [email protected]

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Visiondirect.co.uk

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...