Drugstore.com to develop online outlet for vision chain

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BELLEVUE, Wash. — Drugstore.com has entered a multiyear partnership with optical store chain operator Luxottica Group SpA to expand online access to contact lenses in North America.

The agreement calls for drugstore.com subsidiary Vision Direct Inc., which operates the retailer’s VisionDirect.com web store, to work with Luxottica to develop branded contact lens e-commerce sites for the latter’s North American business and provide customer care and fulfillment services.

The deal will enable Luxottica, starting with its retail brands, to let consumers purchase contact lenses in person, by phone or online.

Milan, Italy-based Luxottica operates more than 2,900 optical stores across North America, including LensCrafters and Pearle Vision outlets. The new e-commerce services are expected to launch in the middle of next year.

"We are very pleased to be able to utilize drugstore.com’s e-commerce platform and our strengths in online technology, marketing, customer care and fulfillment on Luxottica’s behalf," Dawn Lepore, drugstore.com chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "This alliance represents an unparalleled opportunity to extend our partnership strategy, a key growth driver for the future, to our vision business."

The two companies said they also plan to pursue synergies and team up in a number of other related areas, including Luxottica’s North America-based wholesale business.

"This agreement is a key step in Luxottica’s goal to increase consumers’ awareness of contact lenses as an important vision care option," commented Valerio Giacobbi, executive vice president of business development at Luxottica. "Together with annual eye exams and high-quality eyewear and sunglasses, contact lenses are an excellent alternative for total eye health in a way that suits consumers’ differing lifestyles and needs."

Drugstore.com recently has sharpened its focus on branching out from its main pharmacy and health and beauty aids site to create one-stop shopping destinations for certain product categories.

Last month, the company was steering customers with flexible spending accounts to its online FSA Store for savings on thousands of items. And in October the retailer launched a dedicated site for for sexual wellness products called SexualWellBeing.com, adding to its VisionDirect.com and Beauty.com web stores. 



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