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Industry Internet Retailer, e-commerce
Founded Oct 4, 2000 (as by Roger Hardy and his sister Michaela
Headquarters Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Key people
Roy Hessel, Arnaud Bussières, Craig Lennox, Keith Baker, Nicole Oliver, Alex Buhler, Nancy Savard, Mark Spoorenberg (executive committee)
Products Eyeglasses, Contact lenses and Sunglasses
Revenue CAD$217,550,000 (2013)
Number of employees
Parent Essilor

New Zealand

United States

Clearly is an online retailer of contact lenses, eyeglasses and sunglasses. Headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, and with physical stores in Vancouver and Toronto,[1] they are one of the largest online contact lens retailers in North America, and the largest seller of prescription eyeglasses online in the world.[2][3] In 2013, Clearly sold more than $218 million of merchandise.[4]


Founded in 2000 as Coastal Contacts by Roger Hardy and his sister Michaela Hardy, who bought the keyword "contact lens" from AltaVista, which meant that all searches for "contact lens" were accompanied with Coastal Contacts' banner ads.[5][6] In the first day, they had 30 orders; within the first month, they had $68,000 in sales.[5] In addition to their lower pricing, the firm provided same day fulfillment of online orders.[2][7]

In 2004, Coastal Contacts raised $6 million in an initial public offering, which they used to expand into the United Kingdom and parts of Europe.[3][5] In late 2004, they acquired a mail order contact lens business in Europe, LensWay.[5] In 2006, they acquired two more companies: one in the Netherlands and one in Japan.[5][8] By 2009, the firm increased their revenue to $140 million.[5] They moved into the eyeglasses market in 2008.[2][5] They source parts for eyeglasses from independent manufactures across the globe, but maintains control over final assembly.[5]

In January 2012, they shipped over 80,000 prescription eyeglasses, setting a service record for online sales of made-to-order prescription glasses in any one month. In 2012, the company had sold more than $1.2 billion in retail eyewear sales over the internet since inception and served more than 5 million customers.[9]

In 2014, French lens manufacturer Essilor acquired and appointed Roy Hessel as CEO.[10] Hessel, a former venture capitalist, founded online eyewear retailer EyeBuyDirect in 2005. Aside with his role with Clearly, Roy Hessel is also since 2016 VP of America for the Essilor Online division. In August 2017, he appointed a new Managing Director at Clearly to help him in designing and implementing the strategy of the company.[11]

In 2015, Clearly Contacts re-branded itself as Clearly, while also making brand name changes in other global markets. In the United States, they are known as Coastal, Contactsan in Japan, and LensWay in Scandinavia.[12][13] In 2018 Essilor in turn merged with the Luxottica Group giving Luxottica the online presence and control it never had.

International brands[edit]

Clearly operates international websites under differing names in each country, including the following:


Today, Coastal caters to its customers from the United States by offering eyewear and contact lenses exclusively online. In addition, Coastal ships to almost 200 countries globally, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Towards the end of summer in 2016, three members of Cleary's marketing team partook in a road trip to spread brand awareness for Coastal within the United States. For 12 days, the team drove up the west coast and met with engaging individuals from 5 different cities in California and Oregon. Clearly documented their road trip on social media using the hashtag, #SeeClearly.


Clearly, then known as Coastal Contacts, initially exclusively sold contact lenses on their storefronts. In 2008, the company, as Coastal Contacts in the US and Clearly Contacts in Canada, launched the sale of glasses and sunglasses.[5]


Clearly provides customers with contact lenses and eye care products direct from manufacturers such as Johnson and Johnson, Ciba Vision. Currently, they carry over 100 types of contacts, including contacts from Acuvue, Focus Dailies, Freshlook, Proclear and PureVision.[14] The company also provides daily and extended wear lenses, and coloured contact lenses.[15]


In 2008, Clearly introduced related vision care products, such as designer eyeglasses and sunglasses. They currently sell eyeglasses and sunglasses from over 100 brands, including Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Nike Vision, Gucci, and Hugo Boss.[16] In 2012, they sold more than one million pairs of eyeglasses, making them the largest online seller of eyeglasses in the world.[17]

Once a customer places an order with their prescription, their frame selection and lenses are assembled by Clearly's lab for shipment. The company currently has one of the most technologically advanced labs in North America and has reduced error rates to below 1 percent.[15][18]

Exclusive brands[edit]

Clearly designs multiple in-house product lines that they sell exclusively. One of its first brands, Derek Cardigan, was launched in 2010, and joined Kam Dhillon and Ltede. Subsequent labels include Joseph Marc, Main + Central, Love, Michelle Lane, Perspective, and Zooventure.[19]


In March 2011 the Change the View project was founded by Jenny Hardy, and established by Clearly with a goal of donating a pair of prescription glasses for every online sale.[20][21] The initial goal of the project was to donate 2 million pairs of eyeglasses globally by 2020.[21]

Clearly's mission later expanded its goals to make vision care accessible worldwide by providing eye exams, prescription and protective eyewear, and preventative vitamin A tablets to boost immune systems and prevent eye health issues.[22][23] Clearly now partners with established charities to facilitate eye exams and provide prescription eyewear globally.

Awards and accolades[edit]

- 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction award for Outstanding Workplace [24]

- 2014 Business in Vancouver's Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies in BC [25]

- 2014 Excellence in Retailing in Large Size Retailer category [26]

- 2014 Georgia Straight's Best of Vancouver #3 in Best Eyewear Store [27]

- 2014 Internet Retailer's Hot 100 for Mobile Commerce [28]

- 2013 Canada's 10 Most Admired Culture in Mid-Market Category [29]

- 2013 Georgia Straight's Best of Vancouver #3 in Best Eyewear Store [30]

- 2013 Best in the Biz Most Socially Responsible Company of the Year (Silver) [31]

- 2013 Retail Touchpoints Customer Engagement Award in Video Category [32]

- 2013 Internet Retailer #3 Social 300 Award [33]

- 2012 Hub Prize Gold Winner in Marketing [34]

- 2011 Canada's 100 - BC's Top 100 Employers [35]

- 2010 Canada's 10 Most Admired Culture for Best Emerging Company [29]

- 2010 Canada's 100 - BC's Top 100 Employers [36]

- 2009 Digital Marketing Award in Social Media Category for Craft & Experience

- 2009 Digital Marketing Award in Social Media (Silver)

Social media[edit]

Clearly uses social media, with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages where customers can give feedback, share photos and learn about company promotions.[37][37][38][39][40] Today Clearly has more than 2.1 million global Facebook Fans ranking it as the clear leader in social media among optical retailers. Internet Retailer magazine ranked Clearly one of the top 3 web retailers in social media in January 2013.[41]


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  2. ^ a b c Harnish, Verne. 5 ways to get your business strategy right. CNN Money. April 6, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Brohan, Mark. Groupon helps Coastal Contacts build awareness--and sales--in the U.K.. Internet Retailer. March 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Ayling, Joe [1]. "Optician Online" March 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mitra, Sramana. Building A Niche E-Commerce powerhouse: Coastal Contacts CEO Roger Hardy. Sramana Mitra. November 12, 2010.
  6. ^ Bitti, Mary. Clearly a Winning Strategy. Canadian Retailer. August 1, 2009.
  7. ^ Castle, Geoff. The 100-Mile Investor. Business in Vancouver. October 27, 2009.
  8. ^ Anderson, Fiona. Doing business in China: know your customers. The Vancouver Sun. February 7, 2012.
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  10. ^ [2] Vision Monday. April 29, 2014.
  11. ^ [1] "newswire". September 8, 2017.
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  13. ^ Staff. "Coastal Contacts Rebrands to 'Clearly' in Various Forms Through Its Global E-Commerce Sites". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  14. ^ "Buy Contact Lenses Online & Save Money with Clearly Canada". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  15. ^ a b Jordan, David. Clearly Contacts CEO Roger Hardy. BCBusiness. November 3, 2010.
  16. ^ "Eyewear". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  17. ^ "Peep this: Laying eyes on the Canadian revolution in eyewear". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  18. ^ Canada NewsWire. Coastal Contacts Inc Named As One Of The Top 25 Exporters In British Columbia. Digital Journal. October 5, 2010.
  19. ^ "Our Story -". Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  20. ^ Coastal Contacts. Online eyewear company to 'Change the View' for millions around the world Coastal Contacts. March 30, 2011.
  21. ^ a b Launching Change The View Project. Vision Monday. April 1, 2011.
  22. ^ Parmar, Taran (2017-06-24). "Union Gospel Mission and Clearly team up to provide prescription glasses to those in need". Roundhouse Radio. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  23. ^ "Optical Retailer Matches Donations to Vitamin Angels this Holiday Season". My Social Good News. 2014-12-30. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  24. ^ "Announcing the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Recipients". Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  25. ^ [7] Business in Vancouver. 2014.
  26. ^ [8] StoreFront Excellence in Retailing Awards. 2014.
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  31. ^ [13] Best in the Biz. 2013.
  32. ^ Hauss, Debbie [14] Retail Touchpoints. Dec 10, 2014.
  33. ^ Zaroban, Stefany. [15] Internet Retailer. Jan 3, 2013.
  34. ^ [16]Globe and Mail. 2012.
  35. ^ [17]Canada's 100 Top Employers. 2011.
  36. ^ [18]Canada's 100 Top Employers. 2010.
  37. ^ a b Myers, Jennifer. Building dialogue in the workplace. The Globe and Mail. November 6, 2009.
  38. ^ McElgunn, Jim. The biggest lie in business[permanent dead link]. Canadian Business. November 1, 2008.
  39. ^ Lazarus, Eve. Coastal Contacts Makes Online Shopping More Social. Marketing Mag. May 21, 2009.
  40. ^ Burns, Jackie. 'Virtual Mirror' Helps Avoid Eyewear Trainwreck[permanent dead link]. MSN Shopping. August 3, 2009.
  41. ^ Lim, Dion. Dion's Daily Deals | Free glasses, shampoo and watch Archived 2012-11-03 at the Wayback Machine.. WCNC. April 13, 2011.