Embracing Electronic Eyewear at Retail

By John Bonizio,
Co-owner, Metro Optics

March 11, 2015
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Electronic eyewear is a fast-growing category that many retailers are vying for. ECPs can claim this space–by establishing themselves as the authorities on what’s new in optical.

Electronic eyewear is exploding. Amazing products are coming out all the time. I believe that these innovative products should be sold in the optical space–and not left to the Best Buys of the world. If we establish ourselves as the authorities in electronic eyewear, we will succeed in becoming primary dispensers of it.

At Metro Optics, we go beyond just believing in electronic eyewear. We embrace it and boldly feature it. We recently opened our fourth location, and we specifically designed a prominent area to showcase a full range of electronic eyewear and sportswear. We also plan to feature electronic eyewear in all our locations.

For us, electronic eyewear is proving to be a win-win. It brings in new customers looking for the latest in optical, but it also attracts the attention of customers who came in for other reasons. In order to capture significant sales in electronic eyewear, you need commitment and promotion, as well as good training and presentation. The following are key steps to take in you want to compete—and win—in this arena.

Know the products. We recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and were dazzled by the amount of new wearable tech and electronic eyewear. We saw a lot of new products and got ideas on how to market them. But without leaving home, you can go on the internet and see what’s out there and what’s coming. Or visit the Eye2Zone at Vision Expo. We send our staff there every year at Vision Expo East.

Eye2 Zone at Vision Expo West. Bonizio says he sends his staff to visit the Eye 2 Zone booth at every Vision Expo.

Feature it boldly. At Metro Optics, we dedicate 125-square feet in our new 4,150-square-foot store to electronic eyewear and sports eyewear. You can’t miss it. We have a prominent sign directing patients into the area, and we welcome them to interact with a wide variety of electronic eyewear offerings. Depending on how the products perform here, we feature select ones in our other locations, which have a smaller footprint.

Train your sales staff to educate. Electronic eyewear attracts attention, but you need to turn initial customer excitement into genuine buying interest by educating the consumer. We have regular meetings for staff to “play with the toys,” so they know how they work and can convey the excitement they provide. Also, we have “crib cards” posted next to the displays, so sales staff can reference product features and interpret them for customers. We have running videos on a big screen above the electronic eyewear area. We also use a computer terminal to demonstrate the functions and benefits of these products.

Make the area exciting and inviting. Our customers are encouraged to walk right into this open area—and interact with these products. At the same time, we keep the product inside an attractive but secure case. We display a lot of product information, to let the consumer browse and also to let the staff present the product with authority.

Involve your professional staff. There is a role for ODs in presenting electronic eyewear. Tiny screens projected or integrated into an ophthalmic lens can create eye fatigue and other optical problems. Our ODs are well prepared to explain these issues. Also, we partner with Rochester Optical, a leading lab in this arena, to optimize lenses for electronic images. The OD and staff explain how that works, and this differentiates us from other practices and other optical and non-optical retailers.

Promote and cross-market. We have an aggressive advertising and promotion campaign to let consumers in our area know that we’re the experts in electronic eyewear. We also feature it on our web site. But whether they come here for that, and many do, having a prominent area with an extensive array of products provides other benefits. Cross-marketing works. Someone looking at Cazal also sees that we carry Cartier or Chanel. Or, in this case, someone in for an exam discovers that this is the place for amazing new electronic eyewear. They see that we’re the experts in it and have a wonderful variety of products they can try out. That’s what I mean by win-win–and we’re in it to win it!

Page on Metro Optics web site detailing the electronic eyewear the practice sells. Bonizio says it is important to educate your patients about the opportunity to purchase electronic eyewear.

John Bonizio is co-owner of Metro Optics, a four-location practice with a total staff of 50, located in the Bronx, NY. To reach him :

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