'The category will continue to grow': EyeBuyDirect CEO Sunny Jiang on staying competitive with Warby Parker

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The eyeglasses industry is very competitive, but EyeBuyDirect is focused on cornering the market via affordability.

The EssilorLuxotica-owned company has been around since 2005 and its primary focus has been on value: a pair of frames from EyeBuyDirect can be as cheap as $6. This week on the Modern Retail Podcast, CEO Sunny Jiang spoke about the company's trajectory and how she's been steering the ship.

Jiang has been at EyeBuyDirect for 15 years -- she first took a job there when she was fresh out of university as a finance controller. She's risen the ranks ever since, going from operations director to general manager and then ultimately becoming CEO in 2017.

"Since I've become CEO the company has grown nearly 300%," she said.

EyeBuyDirect was one of the first online-only glasses players. Though Zenni is a few years older, Warby Parker is much younger. And, according to Jiang, the way the company is able to sell glasses so cheaply is because of its business model. "we manage everything from the beginning to the end," she said. This includes manufacturing, logistics, even returns. "This allows us to have the ability or possibility to forward a lot of profitability directly to customers."

When EyeBuyDirect first launched, there were hardly any digital competitors out there. Now, the playing field is a lot more intense, thanks to leaders like Warby Parker and America's Best. Over the last two years specifically, Jiang said that a number of competitors have also been upping their digital games. Still, she's confident that the company can continue to grow. According to her own competitive analysis, the top three or four eyeglass players only account for about half of the market. To her, that means she can continue taking market share and finding new customers.

To do that, EyeBuyDirect recently underwent a rebrand, upgrading the look of the website and the company's marketing materials -- including its logo, fonts and overall imagery. On the program, Jiang described the entire process. "One of the reasons why we were thinking to rebrand is that we found the brand or the company didn't have a clear purpose," she said.

With that done, Jiang is currently crafting a five-year plan for EyeBuyDirect's growth. This means boosting its customer service options and also trying to up its delivery speed.

"The category will continue to grow, and I will make sure that EyeBuyDirect will beat the benchmarks."

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