The World’s Largest Online Eyewear Retailer Automates Accounting With NetSuite OneWorld for Big Efficiency Gains

Suzy Strutner, Marketing Specialist

May 26, 2022

Twenty years ago, two founders quietly set out to reinvent the eyewear industry. Their vision: Create their own manufacturing model, build a groundbreaking ecommerce distribution platform and bring high-quality prescription glasses to consumers without markups from major retailers or optometrists.

Zenni Optical is now the world’s largest online eyewear retailer, having sold nearly 50 million pairs of glasses since its launch to people in every country in the world. The company offers prescription glasses for as little as $7, with high-quality lenses and more than 3,000 frames to choose from.

Zenni has more than 1,200 employees between China, where it manufactures most of its products, and the US, where its corporate operations are based. Clever marketing, including partnerships with famous designers, actors and athletes, has contributed to about 20% growth annually, bringing annual revenue to nearly $400 million last year.

Zenni’s longstanding presence in the eyewear industry meant that its business system eventually became outdated, threatening to hinder the company from reaching the next generation of glasses-wearers.

Slowed by QuickBooks

Zenni previously ran on a desktop version of QuickBooks, creating a humongous file on its office server. Any time multiple team members logged in, QuickBooks lagged.

“You’d click and wait a few seconds, then click and wait a few seconds,” said Michelle May, senior accounting manager. “It made processes slow to the point that people were very frustrated.”

The accounting department struggled in particular: A third-party system for vendor approvals and vendor payments caused more lags and confusion. To create financial reports, the team had to manually input all journal entries into QuickBooks and then export the data into spreadsheets. Fixed-asset accounting also required a tangle of spreadsheets.

The Zenni team knew it was time to increase the speed of both its actual business system and its financial processes.

Going Remote With NetSuite

Zenni chose NetSuite OneWorld over Sage Intacct(opens in new tab) and Workday due in part to OneWorld’s strong reputation among online retailers. May especially liked the fact that she could start with finance and accounting, then extend Zenni’s use of NetSuite until all processes ran on a single platform.

Zenni worked with NetSuite Customer Success(opens in new tab) to complete the implementation in late 2019, then transitioned to an engagement with Advanced Customer Support (ACS)(opens in new tab) for one-on-one help after go-live, just before teams were forced to work from home. Zenni’s five-person accounting team made the transition smoothly as consumers started buying everything online.

“Without NetSuite, I can’t imagine how our team could’ve functioned at 100% with 100% mobility,” May said. “We not only maintained our current processes but actually increased our efficiency, even with the growth of our business.”

Time Saved in Accounting

That increased efficiency came in multiple forms, said Shahin Fattahian, Zenni’s accounting operations manager. 

Along with its manufacturer in China, Zenni has multiple subsidiaries in other countries. Fattahin saves time with NetSuite’s automatic currency conversions, and real-time consolidation makes financial reports more timely and accurate than when they were produced in spreadsheets. 

NetSuite Fixed Assets Management(opens in new tab) automates depreciation(opens in new tab) and lease accounting, eliminating the need for spreadsheets. The team uses CSV templates to import bank, credit card and sales transactions, eliminating the need to create some types of journal entries(opens in new tab) by hand. And for Zenni’s new manufacturing facility in Ohio, they now run vendor approvals and payments through NetSuite, avoiding the stops and starts that come with working in a third-party system. 

With the newfound time savings, Fattahiain’s team is documenting its processes, tightening up the financial close(opens in new tab) and learning about how each other use NetSuite, so that each team member has a holistic view of how the system works. They also constantly work with the ACS team to uncover new efficiencies.

“ACS has been a huge help, being able to demo some of our products and giving us the support we need to make sure that we're using the system to its full potential,” Fattahin said. 

The B2B Business Moves Onto NetSuite

Zenni also uses NetSuite(opens in new tab) to manage its relatively new B2B operation, Zenni for Business, which offers blue-light glasses for corporate gifting, safety eyewear for industrial employers and an affiliate program for optometrists. 

Before NetSuite, the Zenni for Business team of two would have to create invoices by hand for hundreds of frames. The data entry was time-consuming and carried the risk of errors. Now, they create contracts, order forms and invoices in NetSuite. The partnerships manager can easily create a proforma invoice for an international client, for example, and pass it along to the program’s accountant. 

A Manufacturing Makeover to Come

Zenni is implementing NetSuite Warehouse Management(opens in new tab) as they build out manufacturing operations in Ohio, which will provide backup for the China factory and give Zenni the “game-changing” ability to produce made-to-order glasses in 48 hours, said Sean Pate, brand marketing officer. 

The company also plans to further automate accounts payable and explore bringing the ecommerce site and contract review process into NetSuite. Meanwhile, teams will continue working with ACS to ensure they’re using the system to its full potential as Zenni grows. 

They’ll also continue the inventive marketing initiatives they’ve run for decades, this time telling Gen Z shoppers and older retail devotees that there’s a better way to buy glasses. 

As Pate put it, “there's always a new consumer to reach.” 

NetSuite has packaged the experience gained from tens of thousands of worldwide deployments over two decades into a set of leading practices that pave a clear path to success and are proven to deliver rapid business value. With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there's continuity from sales to services to support.