The most successful businesses are founded at the intersection of good luck and perfect timing. In South Jakarta, that place just so happens to be on Jalan Melawai Raya and the business is Optik Melawai. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Optik Melawai was started by Budi Purnomo Hadisurjo in 1981.
Rather serendipitously, Budi named the store after the street it was founded on – Melawai, a name which is said to evoke meticulousness, conscientiousness and adaptability. It couldn’t have been more fitting.
Throughout the years and with a tremendous amount of dedication, tenacity, hard work and grit, family-owned Optik Melawai has amassed incredible success, making it a trusted household name across Indonesia.
“There’s not a person in Indonesia who doesn’t know the Optik Melawai brand,” beams Managing Director Eddyanto Hadisurjo, Budi’s son. “Today, we have more than 300 retail stores throughout Indonesia and serve as the benchmark for quality products and services in the optical community.”
Since the very beginning, Optik Melawai has been a stand-out in the industry. In a landscape of tired and traditional optical shops, this store dared to be different. “We were the first optical company to introduce modern design, a comfortable air-conditioned environment and the latest state-of-the-art refraction equipment to the market.
We were also the first optical store to open in the mall – a concept that was relatively new at the time,” he shares. Eddyanto joined the company in 1989 after completing his studies at The University of Western Australia. Back then, Optik Melawai had only 18 stores with 20 employees in the head office, and Eddyanto was the purchasing manager.
Continuous learning and treating our employees like family is very important to our company culture. It’s emphasised from recruitment to product trainings and during company meetings.
Now, Optik Melawai has more than 600 staff in its head office and continues to delight its consumers with a wide range of high-quality products, superior service and transparent pricing. The revered optical company also operates its own Rx laboratory, allowing it to custom-make specific lenses right there in its shops, granting a quick turnaround for its patrons.
“Innovation is very important, especially in today’s environment where technology is changing very rapidly,” Eddyanto stresses. “We stay focused on our point of difference and as a market leader; we work to be the first to implement the latest in design, technology and the best innovations in the marketplace.”
The company also works hard to stay close to its customers. With the advent of COVID-19, though, that hasn’t exactly been the easiest. Forced lockdowns, limited store trading hours and store capacity restrictions have made it increasingly challenging to meaningfully connect with customers.
But where there’s a will there’s a way, and Eddyanto has approached this bleak challenge with a sunny disposition. “I think every challenge also presents opportunities,” he points out. “I believe the COVID-19 pandemic will be remembered as one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. It is a testing time, and it will be the survival of the fittest.
“We must be lean and efficient to overcome this challenge but, at the same time, we can also use this as an opportunity to review our business process, improve our system, up our digital presence and, hopefully, emerge stronger at the end of this pandemic.”
Today’s modern lifestyle has seen the consumption of online video grow rapidly – it’s estimated that the average person will spend 100 minutes every day watching online videos in 2021.
And Eddyanto is using that to Optik Melawai’s distinct advantage. “More and more of our customers prefer to see a video rather than read an article, so we have begun creating more and more video content on our YouTube channel,” he explains.
“There, we publish products, promotions and other eye health-related content.” Looking ahead, Eddyanto wants to keep upping the company’s digital game, which is particularly important as COVID-19 – much to everyone’s dismay – continues to linger.
“Over the 12–18 months, I think the pandemic is still going to be the main challenge, so my focus is on further improving our digital strategy,” he says.
Innovation is very important, especially in today’s environment where technology is changing very rapidly.
“We’re currently working to provide virtual try-on capabilities where the customer can try on our eyewear without having to go to our stores. We’re also working closely with our tech consultant to use artificial intelligence to interact more closely with our customers by providing personalised product offerings. And, in the future, we plan to use artificial intelligence to improve our product sourcing as well as distribution.”
However, to maintain its lead in a saturated market, it’s clear that Optik Melawai can’t do it alone. The family-run company depends on key business partners and suppliers to grow, meet market demand and serve its customers optimally.
“We work very closely with our partners and suppliers,” he says. “Communication and transparency are key. If there’s ever a problem, whether it’s related to price, design or something else, we want to work it out with them. We see them as our extended family.” And these relationships come with perks.
“As most of our suppliers are either a brand owner or the authorised licensee of the brand, we are able to get products directly from the source,” Eddyanto says. “This means that we have access to the best and latest products available to the market.”
Coping in a crisis
Optik Melawai Managing Director Eddyanto Hadisurjo shares three tips for overcoming pandemic-level challenges in any business.
1. Be lean. Streamline your organisation and cut all unnecessary expenses.
2. Get connected. Focus and improve your online presence via your website, newsletters, social media platforms and so on.
3. Stay innovative. Use the latest technology like artificial intelligence to improve your business and gain an edge over your competition.
In addition, the suppliers also provide Optik Melawai with relevant product knowledge and best practices to filter down to its employees. This ongoing education is delivered via extensive programs, seminars and product trainings, and is a prime focus.
Not only does it help staff deliver excellent service to customers, but it also fosters a growth mindset within the culture. “Continuous learning and treating our employees like family is very important to our company culture,” Eddyanto stresses.
“It’s emphasised from recruitment to product trainings and during company meetings. As a result, our employees are always polite, professional and honest. They provide professional advice based on our customers’ best interests.”
While Optik Melawai won’t be able to carry on with its grand 40th birthday celebration as originally intended, it will continue doing what it does best – providing incomparable products and services in fresh and unexpected ways.
“Our logo is, ‘When you expect the very best’, which means quality is at the heart of everything we do from products to services,” Eddyanto says. “We continually strive to provide the best that the market can offer.”
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