S R Gopal Rao Opticians & Optometrists is the pioneer optician in Bengaluru. It was established by my ancestors in the late 1800’s under the name of Narayenrao. The business was then handed over to S N Rama Rao (Narayenrao’s son) after which it got rebranded in 1936, under the name of S R Gopal Rao Opticians. S R Gopal Rao was the son of S N Rama Rao. Each generation brought with it changes and improvements to the business, which helped it grow to become the trusted brand that it is today. Narayenrao and S N Rama Rao were both watchmakers and opticians. S R Gopal Rao on the other hand sold off the watchmaking division and focused the business on the optical sector only. S N Rama Rao was the sole optician to erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore and we continue to remain the opticians to the present Maharaja of Mysore and his family.
Years after it was rebranded to S R Gopal Rao Opticians (SRGR), the business was inherited by my grandmother followed by my father, thus making me the 6th generation to take the business forward. A long line of ambitious entrepreneurs, loyal customers and a great team is what makes SRGR the brand that it is today. It managed to live through several changes that took place in the industry : the explosion of optical centres at every nook and corner of the city, the organised sector that came through in the form of large format retail chains, a city with ever changing residents and now it see the era of heavy discounts and ecommerce. Every change was take upon as a challenge to review and strategise.
As a part of the industry that is saturated with competitors, intimidated by online reviewers, controlled by large multinational suppliers, exposed to technology and vulnerable to frequent changes, I decided to focus on our core strength, which is customer service rather than quick compromised expansion. To do so the first step would be build a team of efficient, caring opticians and the next was to highlight the rich heritage of SRGR. Trust is a very important factor and it comes with experience, we have over 100 years of it.
Alternately, I decided to invest in technology to help with the operations, customer serviceability and growth of the business. We recently implemented SAP for our inventory management and customer management segment, making it efficient for us to locate each SKU, specific brand models and customer records. What I rely upon more are the reports and other metrics that the software generates, which will help us optimize purchases. We have also invested in technology that will help us showcase 5000 SKU’s available across our 3 stores, in any given store location, virtually. Both projects will be completely in place within the next 3 months. Further more, we have set up an ecommerce brand called Getspexy that focuses on selling customised eyewear accessories for either gifting purposes or own use.
The future looks very interesting in this space. My intention is to grow the brand so that it sees’ another century. To do so, it is important for me to keep a ear to the ground, an eye on competition and industry changes and invest in innovation. I do have plans to get more creative in the near future. The way forward is to set the brand apart from the rest in ways that only a few can replicate, while always keeping the customer and team at the helm of affairs.
Written by : Meghana Manay,
Manager- Marketing & Expansions, S R Gopal Rao Opticians & Optometrists
Photo credits : Saina Jayapal