Retail optical practices in 2015 are facing a tougher environment than ever before, and opticians are fighting to remain competitive in the market.
One of the primary drivers of this trend is a stark change in consumer behavior over the past decade. Consumers now no longer need to physically be in your store in order to engage in actions that in the past, would be considered “shopping.” The rise of social media, online review sites, and the Internet at large means that consumers can be catered to online — in fact, they expect to be.
The Customer is King
Optical practices must embrace omnichannel marketing if only because it’s what the customer wants. And retailers have a lot to gain from this, too: according to some industry experts, omnichannel customers can be up to four times as valuable as single channel customers.
However, omnichannel isn’t just about marketing your business online, but tying those efforts in with the physical retail experience. According to a 2013 report by Drapers, it’s clear that the Internet should factor into their marketing efforts — but not the Internet alone.
Here, optical retailers in the UK have a unique opportunity: Because of market regulations that restrict the sale of spectacles and contact lenses by uncredentialed retailers, opticians face little competition in the online space (aside from themselves, of course). While a dress shop in 2015 might need to shift its business predominantly online in order to remain competitive, opticians still have a lot to gain from their brick-and-mortar locations.
A Multitude of Options
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to omnichannel marketing. Optical practices can “mix and match” strategies depending on their business goals, their customer preferences, and other factors.
Of all the tactics that might comprise an omnichannel marketing campaign, there are some obvious choices: An optimized website and homepage; an online shop; a social media presence; a blog that addresses common questions that patients might have; a positive review campaign targeting satisfied customers.
However, new technology is bridging the gap between online and offline shopping: Facebook apps that allow patients to try-on different glasses, online lens simulators, in-store virtual mirrors, and advanced measuring systems are all coming together, creating a retail environment that is both physical and digital, at the same time.