Insights From Our Editors

How Do I Create a True 21st Century Optical?

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

May 30, 2018

Consumers are finding new ways to shop for, and try on, eyewear.

For instance, Transitions Optical has partnered with Snapchat to create an interactive augmented reality try-on experience.

This Snapchat lens enables users to experience the adaptability of Transitions lenses on a platform relevant to them and their lifestyle. In the Snapchat try-on experience users can see themselves in different eyeglass frame styles, in indoor and outdoor environments, and watch the lenses darken as the scenes go to daytime outdoor settings.

How can you create a true 21st century optical in your own office, and maybe even on your practice web site?

Patients come into our offices expecting high-quality products and excellent customer service. But in today’s world they are also looking for an experience. Stand at the entrance to your optical and ascertain if it answers the following two questions positively:

1) Does it look like a 21st century optical?
2) Is there modern, excellent merchandising?

Let’s start with the look of your optical. Does it support the price point of your practice? If you have upscale prices, does your optical have an upscale look? If you are going to be a true 21st century optical, does it have that look, or does it look like a 1980’s optical that drastically needs a face lift?

Here are two pictures from the Eye Designs web site to help you picture what attractive 21st century opticals could look like. Notice that both of these designs are using space to highlight frames rather than trying to cram as many frames as possible onto tightly packed frame boards. Also note how light and inviting both of these designs are. And do not miss how clean and uncluttered both offices look.

In a 21st century optical, modern visual merchandising creates an organized and navigable shopping experience for patients. Excellent visual merchandising helps answer the question: Can I find what I need in this optical? A helpful, functional definition is, “… visual merchandising is the art of attracting customers and enticing them to purchase products through careful presentation.”

To state this another way – the end product of effective visual marketing is to drive sales. The optical is a retail space, but most practices have not utilized the science of visual merchandising very well. Decorating the optical is not the same as visual merchandising.

A second goal of visual merchandising is to cross merchandise. Cross merchandising is telling a product’s story with other complimentary product offerings. Does your optical tell the story of how the same frame in multiple color offerings can be matched with different outfits a patient may have? Does your optical tell the story of how back-up eyewear gives the contact lens patient more flexibility? Does your optical visually tell the story of how necessary polarized sunglasses are for all patients?

What else can you do in your optical to give it a 21st century look? You can use QR codes to tell the story of frames and lenses. You can find a free QR code generator HERE. Place QR codes strategically in your optical to help tell the story of things that will help patients understand and lead to a better buying experience. Here are examples of three messages that could be used in your optical.

Another 21st century addition to your optical are tools that help patients find the perfect frames. LensCrafters has a tool called “Find Your Look,” which is one of the best we’ve seen. After choosing your face shape, and answering whether you are a man or woman, the next questions are based around style choices. As an example, for men one of the questions you are asked is:

Explore it further HERE.

Take this week to look at your optical and see if it has moved into the 21st century or if it needs some work to improve its effectiveness in helping more patients purchase their eyewear from you. These changes will help patients to have a better experience in your practice.


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