Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Harry Trott, Ken Schwaber, Aruna Ravichandran, Elizabeth White

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
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus o...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Providing secure, mobile access to sensitive data sets is a critical element in realizing the full potential of cloud computing. However, large data caches remain inaccessible to edge devices for reasons of security, size, format or limited viewing capabilities. Medical imaging, computer aided design and seismic interpretation are just a few examples of industries facing this challenge. Rather than fighting for incremental gains by pulling these datasets to edge devices, we need to embrace the i...
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
@ThingsExpo has been named the ‘Top WebRTC Influencer' by iTrend. iTrend processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @ThingsExpo ranked as the number one ‘WebRTC Influencer' followed by @DevOpsSummit at 55th.
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
"What is the next step in the evolution of IoT systems? The answer is data, information, which is a radical shift from assets, from things to input for decision making," stated Michael Minkevich, VP of Technology Services at Luxoft, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions with...
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...