March 3, 2011, 2:39 PM

Groupon helps Coastal Contacts build awareness—and sales—in the U.K.

A recent Groupon promotion generated 1,600 orders over two days.

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Coastal Contacts Inc., No. 110 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, recently learned that a good discount can help build e-commerce success in a foreign market.

The online retailer began selling in the United Kingdom about six months ago. To build up its brand awareness quickly, Coastal decided that using deal-of-the-day web site Groupon would produce better and faster results than more conventional forms of online marketing. “Our Groupon account manager helped us come up with a deal that would be attractive to their subscribers based on our average order value,” says CEO Roger Hardy.

Last month, Coastal Contacts used Groupon to offer online shoppers in the United Kingdom a coupon good for a discount of about 30 British pounds (US$48) on a pair of designer prescription eyeglasses normally priced at 80 pounds (US$129).

Coastal Contacts, which had used Groupon to market eyewear in North America, ran the program for two days and generated about 1,600 orders. “In Europe, Groupon was a way to reach a mass audience that didn’t know us very well,” Hardy says. “By staying flexible and being creative with Groupon, we were able to show more people how easy we make it for them to purchase glasses online at a great price.”

Coastal Contacts, an online retailer of contact lenses and related products, has been selling online in Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, since acquiring Swedish contact lenses manufacturer Lensway AB in 2004. The company posted an increase in sales of about 9.5% to C$153.2 million (US$151.7 million) in fiscal 2010 from C$139.9 million (US$138.5 million) in fiscal 2009.

Glen Kayll, chief financial officer for Coastal Contacts, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled “How much is my business worth?”

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