Clearly Contacts to Open First Retail Location

Clearly Contacts retail location | BCBusiness
In spring 2013, Clearly Contacts will open its first-ever physical location on Robson Street in Vancouver, B.C.

Canadian e-commerce website Clearly Contacts branches out into the physical retail space with its first store on Vancouver’s Robson Street.

One of Canada’s most popular e-commerce success stories is taking its business to the streets of Vancouver—Robson Street, to be exact. This spring Clearly Contacts will open its inaugural bricks-and-mortar location, marking the first physical location for parent company Coastal Contacts Inc. The retail store is set to be the first of many across Canada.  

The impetus behind opening a retail location was a combination of customer demand and seizing the opportunity to learn from in-person interactions. “Customer service is the most important thing to us and there’s only so much you can really learn from surveys and focus groups,” says Clearly Contacts vice-president of marketing Aaron Magness.

In an effort to take full control over the customer-service experience, the store will be full-service, with in-house optometrists offering eye exams. The retail location is also viewed as an opportunity to reach a new market of shoppers who aren’t comfortable buying their glasses online, but can be converted into regular customers. “If your first transaction with us is in-store, your second will probably be online,” says Magness.

The company refers to the new store as a “discovery lab” that will generate ideas for future retail locations. “Maybe what we open with is not what our second stores opens with,” says Magness. In addition to incubating concepts for future locations, the store is meant to feed ideas to the e-commerce site. “We’re really embracing the hybrid mindset,” says Magness. “What are the things that are bubbling up in the physical world that we can pull into the digital world?”

Because the Clearly Contacts lab is located in Vancouver, Magness says shoppers at the retail store can look forward to turnaround time as quick as ordering through the e-commerce site. “We’re not losing sight of the infrastructure we have in place for that shopping experience,” says Magness. Wherever possible, Clearly Contacts aims to bring elements of its e-commerce experience into the retail store.

Overall, the plan is to go slow with the first physical location and treat it as a learning experience. “Let’s be honest,” says Magness, “even if this is the best-performing glasses store in the country, it’s minimal impact to our bottom line.”


Kristen Hilderman is the assistant editor at BCBusiness magazine, specializing in retail and manufacturing. | Twitter