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Pioneering digital transformation in the optical industry

Article - January 11, 2024

OWNDAYS has digitized its customer journey, cutting down on the time customers spend in-store in order to make the overall experience more efficient.


“As a result of the changes we’ve implemented, approximately 40% of our previous in-store processes can now be efficiently completed through online channels.”

Shuji Tanaka, President of OWNDAYS

OWNDAYS is a leading eyewear brand from Japan with more than 550 shops in Japan, South East Asia, and Australia. Selling over 3.5 million pairs of glasses a year, it is one of the few companies in the world that has implemented the SPA (Specialty store retailer of Private label Apparel) system into the optical business where the entire process from design and manufacturing through to inventory management and retail is managed from within. This system has allowed the company to maintain the highest level of product quality in order to meet Japanese Industrial Standards while keeping prices affordable.

In the globalized world, e-commerce has become a significant contributing factor for retail brands aiming to expand their presence, and for the optical industry – and OWNDAYS in particular – this is no different. 

“Spectacles are a unique product,” says Shuji Tanaka, President of OWNDAYS. “And traditionally they have been approached through an omnichannel strategy, which maximizes their impact by linking physical stores with the internet. The process typically involves eyesight inspections, trying and testing the glasses, making necessary adjustments even after their initial use, and providing after-service support alongside the glasses.

“We have been able to strengthen customer loyalty and engagement by enhancing our industry leading warranty system and promoting digital membership. Furthermore, since the pandemic, innovations such as the virtual try-on function, remote eye test, and the real-time service notification system have embodied our commitment to digitalization, which has helped us eliminate unnecessary steps, cutting down on the time customers spend in-store, and making the overall experience more efficient.”

He adds: “With these remote eye inspections, for instance, we currently handle an impressive volume of up to 1,000,000 cases per year. Each remote inspection is meticulously recorded and fed into our AI system. Our aim is to transition away from relying on human employees for this aspect of the job within the next two years, with avatars taking over customer communication.

Mr. Tanaka stresses that while certain aspects like eye check-ups, inspections, and fittings still require in-store attention, OWNDAYS has made a deliberate effort to separate the physical and digital aspects of its operations. This has led to the company allocating more resources to tasks that need to be performed at the physical stores, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.

“During the past three years, we’ve focused on identifying which steps previously conducted in-store could be shifted online. As a result, approximately 40% of our previous in-store processes can now be efficiently completed through online channels. However, we have no intention of transitioning all our services online, as that could potentially inconvenience our customers. We believe in striking a balance, aiming for a 50/50 distribution between physical and online services.”