Edel-Optics opens flagship store on Hamburg's Ballindamm

Robots serving customers - opticians offering 250,000 articles in mix of online and offline trade
25 November 2020
V.l.n.r.: GF Michael Busch, Roboter-Butler, Gründer Dennis Martens

A "magic mirror" in the window of Edel-Optics flagship store on Hamburg's Ballindamm takes an image of the window-shopper and projects a pair of glasses onto the customer's face. The digital fitting is likely to stir up interest among curious passers-by and lure them into the store. The approach may yet pay off as attractive and exciting shopping sprees are key to keeping people interested in stationary retail, experts say.

Digitally-backed process

Shoppers entering the store come face to face with real opticians as well as five Temi robots by an Israeli-Chinese-American start-up specialising in personal robots. "Our customers browse the shelves and if they find an interesting pair, simply click on an iPad and our robot brings the selected model in a different colour or size thanks to RFID technology," said Dennis Martens, Managing Director of Edel-Optics. "This provides digital support for the physical process," said Michael Busch, joint Managing Director of Edel-Optics.

17 storage robots managing 250,000 articles

Martens is particularly proud of the large selection on offer at Ballindamm since late November. An integrated warehouse in which 17 robots manage 250,000 items is right behind the store. "We have access to the entire online warehouse here - meaning goods worth two-digit million-euro sum are stored there."

Merging online and offline worlds

Founded in 2009 by Martens and Tomislav Karajica, Edel-Optics has web shops in 53 countries and five stationary stores in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region: "Each store has a separate landing page," said Martens. Online shoppers can pick up the model selected in the store and check the digital fitting here again. A "magic mirror" is also available for the online fitting. Simply upload your photograph and try the desired pair glasses on your (virtual) nose.

Corona slowing growth 

The omnichannel optician earned EUR 23 million in turnover in 2019. Significant growth was expected in 2020. "But corona has slowed us down as well," said Martens. Supplier countries like Italy and China have been severely hit by the pandemic and this has had repercussions for Edel-Optics. Yet, the company's growth targets are “unbroken”, Martens stressed. Glasses have long since morphed from remedies to fashion accessories and more and more customers want a second, third or fourth pair of glasses for every occasion. The continuous growth in the sector mirrors this trend. Last year, total industry sales rose by 3.8 per cent to almost EUR 6.5 billion.