We recently offered some tips to help your practice combat online eyewear sales. By actively listening to your patients, offering in-store promotions, and diligently keeping your most popular products in stock, you can build trust and loyalty in your patients. The more they trust you, the more likely they are to choose your practice over online eyewear outlets.
This is a pressing concern for a lot of optical practices, and that should not be surprising. It’s easy to get caught up in all the reports of how successful online retailers like Warby Parker are. But is their success really such a threat to your practice? As it turns out, if you are paying attention to actual retail trends, the answer is no.
When it comes to shopping experiences, customers actually prefer brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. According to TimeTrade’s State of Retail 2015: Consumer Behaviour report, 71% of Amazon shoppers would prefer shopping in a physical Amazon store to shopping on Amazon.com. While the convenience of online shopping cannot be denied, it appears that most consumers are using online resources to research the products that would best suit their needs.
TimeTrade’s study also states that 85% of consumers prefer to have a tactile experience with a product before they decide to make a purchase. They want to touch an item, get a feel for what using it would be like, before they commit their hard-earned money to it. This gives brick-and-mortar practices an advantage.
When it comes to eyewear, patients prefer to try on their spectacles before buying. They want to feel how their frames fit, see the impact of their lenses on their vision, and hear from a trusted source why these lenses are the best for their needs. This is where your expertise as an eyecare professional comes into play. According to Eyecare Business 2015 Annual Market Trends Survey, 73% of ECPs are standing up to online sales by letting their experience speak for itself, emphasising the services patients cannot get online.
Some practices are even attempting to augment their practice by offering online sales, taking advantage of expertise and convenience. However, most ECPs who take this approach do most of their online business in contact lenses; the Eyecare Business survey cited above shows 80% of these sales are from contacts, while 24% are from sunwear and 20% from prescription spectacles.
How is your practice adapting to the online eyewear market? Does the retail trend toward brick-and-mortar shops ease your worries? Share your thoughts in the comments below!