Decoding The Complexities Of India’s Optical Market

Decoding The Complexities  Of India's Optical Market

Mr. Ramachandran Parthasarathy apprises us on India's optical market complexity that demands strategic scaling for business success

In the multi-faceted prism of India's optical market, Mr. Ramachandran Parthasarathy unravels the complexities that define success for businesses. With a keen eye on the diverse consumption patterns and behaviors across cities and towns, he emphasizes the pivotal role played by manufacturers, research labs, wholesalers, and opticians in fostering market growth.

He underscores the unique contributions of each supply chain component In this digital age, and challenges the notion of eliminating middlemen,  Mr. Parthasarathy also sheds light on the nuanced dynamics shaping the eyewear industry, estimated at INR 23,000-27,000 Crores, right from the critical stage of fitting, to the challenges faced by wholesalers. His insights give a clarion call to traditional optical businesses to scale strategically in response to the evolving market demands.

We as a well-unified nation have challenges due to heterogenous patterns of consumption, and behaviour which is unique to a city/town, leaving aside the Union of States in India. This means understanding the nuances of the region and thereby working on the business model.

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The Internet has brought access to all the nooks and corners of the country but in our business scenario the manufacturers, Rx labs, wholesalers, glazers commonly called fitters in India and the opticians play a large role in contributing to the growth of the market while the flow of the prescriptions happens from Ophthalmologists and Optometrists.

It is therefore important to recognize that each one of the supply chains has a role to play and has participated in making the end products competitive and affordable unlike some players claiming that eliminating middlemen offers consumers a better deal for a like-to-like product. While you deep dive into the offerings, the opticians who typically procure from a wholesaler/importer can offer a better price to the consumer. This reflects the fact that the supply chain, though can be more efficient through IT systems, and AI for inventory management but gives little room for margin optimization.

The complexities of the wholesalers in managing inventories and obsolescence, cash flow, and the cost of working capital make it even more challenging. The area of glazing (fitting) is less spoken of but is the most critical aspect of the spectacles offering. Substandard work in fitting could cause discomfort to the wearer and loss of customers to the opticians, which is intangible and cannot be afforded in today’s competitive scenario.

While auto-edgers are available in the market including industrial edgers for mass manufacturing the fact that India is a diverse market and much of the edging happens at the last mile closer to the optician, the supply chain, therefore, needs to integrate this part seamlessly. It is worth noting that the skill sets of our fitters who operate on semi-automatic or manual edgers are exemplary and would be perhaps the best in the world though they do not get the highlight that they deserve. 

India has 7349 Railway stations and over 1.5 lakh pin codes. Why is this relevant in this context? The stations serve as the transport hub to adjoining towns and villages while the pin codes are where the dwelling happens. The various supply chain in India recognizes these complexities and addresses them in a business-like fashion to remain profitable and sustainable yet competitive. Easier said than done but this re-establishes the role of intermediaries in the delivery system of spectacles, sunglasses, etc. to end consumers.

The eyewear industry as estimated is in the range of INR 23000-27000 Crores (range of 2.7B$ to 3.2B$) at the consumer level and in relative terms quite tiny when compared to many other industries, but the complexities of the business are high or more than the industries which are perhaps ten times larger in market size. 

This brings in the point that traditional families having a firm understanding of the optical business must scale up to meet the growing market demand as the need for spectacles would only increase given the demographic nature of the population.

In conclusion, Mr. Ramachandran Parthasarathy's insights offer a profound understanding of the multifaceted landscape defining India's optical market. Navigating through the intricate web of supply chains, he underscores the irreplaceable role of intermediaries and challenges the simplistic expediency of cutting them out for purported efficiency.

The optical industry's estimated value, though comparatively modest, belies its intricate challenges, requiring strategic adaptations for sustained success. As the demand for spectacles continues to rise with demographic shifts, his call for traditional optical businesses to upscale resonates as a strategic imperative. In the world of eyewear, the path to prosperity lies not only in recognizing complexities but also in leveraging them for resilient, competitive growth.

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