Accelerating Digital Transformation for Romania’s Leading Optical Showroom

Nov 18, 2022,

Digitising operations for record growth

As a highly ambitious company, Lensa had its sights firmly set on record growth. However, they knew they needed something extra to achieve their goals.

Lensa’s business mission is to offer new perspectives, believing that the best quality vision should be within everyone’s reach. To deliver on that promise, Lensa provides a wide range of fashionable yet functional eyewear, award-winning optometrist services and unparalleled optical consultancy.

Recognising the need for a digital revolution within the organisation, Lensa sought to digitise as many aspects of its operations as possible. Approximately 70% of the business operations have now been digitised, underpinned by its online showroom and a powerful mobile app. Putting the business’ impact on the Romanian market into perspective, Lensa increased its turnover by 97% in 2020, and 50% in 2021, with a cumulative turnover of €40 million between March 2013 and April 2022.

All told, the Bucharest-based optical retailer has firmly established itself as the go-to brand in Romania, with 21 showrooms throughout the nation and eight more slated for development this year. The mobile application developed by EBS was the final part of the puzzle as it sought record growth.

“Before any work starts, it’s imperative we understand the client’s business needs. We do this throughout each phase of the process – consultation, analysis, design, development, testing, infrastructure and piloting. Because of this, we are able to clearly identify problems, both existing and anticipated, so we can find solutions, taking into consideration the technical aspects of application development and the business impacts, too.” – Mihai Tugui, CEO at EBS Integrator

Enabling Lensa’s digital revolution

Understanding the need to digitise its operations across the board, Lensa sought a solution to unify its wide range of services and offerings. That’s where EBS stepped in.

Lensa’s growth seemed to be written in the stars after years of delivering outstanding services and products to its customers. But without the correct solution to take things to the next level, Lensa saw its milestones and goals ever so slightly out of reach.

EBS had been engaged by Lensa five years prior, in order to develop two digital products that fulfilled crucial business needs at the time. Throughout those two projects, EBS established itself as a trustworthy partner to deliver on the next step of its digital transformation journey, so Lensa made the easy choice to remain with a team that had helped them achieve early success.  

Initially, Lensa had outlined its needs for the new app, listing a range of functionalities and features found throughout Lensa other digital products, chiefly its website. They hoped to unify its offering on a range of digital platforms, so EBS stepped in to devise a blueprint for the project, going above and beyond with additional features not found elsewhere in Lensa’s existing digital products.

The EBS team worked to resolve a number of issues with the existing technology, optimising the speed at which it operated and the usability of the application, culminating in a feature-packed, powerful mobile application that continues to help the company drive sales skyward. Despite having 21 brick-and-mortar showrooms, Lensa’s app now accounts for 40% of the company’s sales, so its wider importance and impact on the business cannot be overemphasised.

Developing Lensa’s iOS and Android applications has become a touchstone in Lensa’s growth journey, but it was no accident. It was a calculated, measured approach to app development which, as a result, completely solidified Lensa’s business development strategy, arming it with the tools it needed to digitally revolutionise the majority of its offerings.

The collaborative process between EBS and Lensa laid a solid foundation on which to build, with both parties maintaining close contact and transparency throughout every stage of development. This gave rise to a progressive, hands-on development process where each sprint expanded and iterated upon the previous. Over time the product crystallized into a comprehensive application that ticked every box for Lensa.

“Working with EBS was a joy and we were confident in their abilities at every stage of the project. From the outset, we could see that EBS approached development with an analytical mindset, taking into consideration all aspects of Lensa’s business and operations. Our teams worked well together towards the same goal, producing a powerful application that has helped us take our business to the next level.” – Daniel Craciun, Founder at Lensa

Digital transformation in ecommerce

With the ecommerce space more crowded than ever, Lensa knew that it had to radically reimagine its online offering.

Staying in the loop with the latest ecommerce trends is a necessity for businesses like Lensa, helping them stay competitive in a fast-growing market. Recent industry reports highlight that ecommerce accounts for over 20% of global retail sales, up from 10% only 5 years ago. Mobile sales account for 67% of all worldwide ecommerce sales and push notifications enabled by mobile apps have a 90% open rate, 50% higher than traditional email marketing. 

With that in mind, Lensa knew that a mobile app was the next logical step as it pursued company-wide digitalisation to foster brand loyalty, increase conversion rates and reduce churn. EBS’s in-depth market research enabled the two teams to approach the project with the insights that enabled them to craft a comprehensive product that would afford Lensa the tools and channels it needed to hit its milestones.

Initially, EBS’ business analysis department ran a technical feasibility study, examining the risks, strengths and weaknesses – as well as a market analysis – to develop a seamless implementation plan well-suited to the business’ operating model and culture. This analysis greatly influenced the project, giving EBS and Lensa a firm understanding of how the process would unfold.

At all stages, the key objective of EBS was to understand the wants and needs of Lensa as they evolved, achieved through the embedding and maintaining of a transparent communication process that leverages the latest technology to fulfil Lensa’s requirements. Application development projects can be complex. Bringing Lensa into a collaborative project management and development culture created a clear and comfortable environment for the client.

Integrating with existing technologies 

In order to deliver for Lensa, the EBS team had to accommodate existing technologies that would’ve been too costly for Lensa to replace. 

The API that fed information back and forth was developed by an external team. It presented numerous challenges which the EBS team had to overcome. As an organisation, EBS prides itself on its ability to refactor applications, integrating existing technologies in order to cut costs and cause as little friction for the client as possible. After a code review, through which the technical team analysed the existing API’s code for quality and efficacy, many problems were identified. Poorly implemented flows, endpoints and requests caused significant load issues detrimental to the UX.

EBS refactored the logic and workflows so they could handle 20,000 requests per minute. The response time was initially 0.6s, which caused countless blockages that impacted the application’s usability. EBS reduced those response times to 0.002s by filtering and optimizing requests through a bespoke proxy.

The proxy helped EBS receive aggregated data packets before they were sent to the mobile application which ultimately enabled EBS to dovetail Lensa’s ambitious app functionality with the API, while at the same time effectively acting as a net to catch any external API issues before they could impact the app.

EBS dedicated fact-finding phases to all technical and operational processes in order to highlight inefficiencies and potentially harmful issues, separating the analyses into modules to allow for a structured approach to the resolution of complications, bugs and bottlenecks.

“At the beginning, we were not exactly convinced that the development of an application that depended on an external API would be successful for the business. However, the analysis stage offered to Lensa gave them the insight they needed to take the next step in the progression of its business. Analyzing the risks and finding solutions for development helped create a unique technical project where the roles of each functionality were defined separately. Based on this, EBS offered a unique solution where we developed the modules one by one, testing each function separately, eliminating all possible technical and, most importantly, business risks.” – Cristian Zagornii, Project Manager at EBS Integrator

Delivering the finished product

EBS chose the Agile framework to deliver Lensa’s new application, which saw a 30% reduction in development time and 25% under budget.

EBS took on the project with an agile approach, delivering in sprints lasting two weeks. Each sprint was incremental, with up to ten developers working hand-in-hand with the Lensa team productively and flexibly. The work undertaken through the agile framework was characterised by smaller, more manageable budgets, which in turn made each milestone more cost-effective for Lensa, who could see in real-time how the budget was being used, what features and functionalities had been developed for that budget, and how EBS were planning to iterate and expand upon that. 

Regular feedback sessions were a mainstay throughout development, meaning that EBS could react to changing needs and demands as and when they occurred, and Lensa had a clear picture of what stage of development the application was in. This method, combined with a high level of transparency throughout the development process, enabled EBS to deliver a complete, market-ready product in 30% less time than initially anticipated. This greatly benefited Lensa’s financial outlay, which came in at only 75% of the anticipated budget.

At the culmination of development, the application was handed over to Lensa with every feature and functionality working as intended, amounting to a well-rounded, comprehensive application that could be used by Lensa to drive conversion rates, boost brand awareness, increase customer loyalty and hit record sales. The company is now well placed to confidently continue its digital transformation journey and take its business to the next level. 

Lensa is now visible to more customers than ever before, benefiting from a direct marketing channel to its existing customer base and greatly improved customer engagement. With groundbreaking features such as augmented reality fittings and direct-to-consumer shipping, Lensa now stands head and shoulders above the competition as one of the most innovative, forward-thinking optical showrooms in Europe. EBS is proud to have played a significant part in helping Lensa achieve its goals.