Reach for Excellence

Market Opportunity: Prevail Over Online Competitors

Oct. 19, 2016

Some of your patients are more likely to purchase eyewear online than others, The Vision Council VisionWatch 2015 Internet Influence Report suggest. The groups that were more likely to use the internet for different functions when shopping for their last pair of eyewear were also the groups that were more likely to directly purchase eyewear online. In particular, women, younger Americans, Americans with relatively high incomes and Americans who use the internet when shopping for general retail goods were all more likely than other groups to have directly purchased eyewear online within the past six months.

We all make buying decisions. We all have reasons why we buy and why we don’t buy. Those buying decision reasons are not static – they change. We also make decisions about where we buy. Patients buy from us or they buy somewhere else and sometimes they don’t buy when they should. To make sure we understand the buying process and how to best help patients navigate the buying decision maze, start by having every person in the office involved in helping patients purchase read the following two articles and be able to apply the content with patients.

The first article is on the AOA web site entitled “A Closer Look at Ordering Glasses Online.” It begins with the reasons people give for buying glasses online: convenience, research, and price before turning to the warnings of fit, quality, and safety. The article highlights the recent study showing 44.8 percent of glasses purchased online had a problem with inaccurate prescriptions or did not meet safety standards. The AOA article goes further by warning people about online purchases in the following areas: returns, warranties, shipping, pricing, insurance and maintenance.

The second article addresses the core question: “What makes people buy?” This article gives 20 reasons. The authors state that even though the list is incomplete, it can begin to help us to understand why people buy from us. We can also take this information and understand why people buy online. The reasons people buy are: basic needs, convenience, replacement, scarcity, prestige (or aspirational purchase), emotional vacuum, price, value, name recognition, fad, compulsory purchase, ego stroking, niche identity, peer pressure, the “Girl Scout Cookie Effect,” guilt, empathy, addiction, fear and indulgence.

To drill down deeper, the authors suggest the list of 20 reasons why people buy can be divided into two buckets: relational reasons and transactional reasons. Let’s go ahead and take that step and divide the reasons into the two buckets.

• Relational Reasons
• Prestige (or aspirational purchase), emotional vacuum, name recognition, fad, ego stroking, niche identity, peer pressure, the “Girl Scout Cookie Effect,” guilt, empathy, addiction, fear and indulgence.

• Transactional Reasons
• Basic needs, convenience, compulsory purchase, replacement, scarcity, price and value

Take this week to review the ideas contained in these two articles with staff. Brainstorm how this information can be used to help patients make the best decisions when they make eye-related purchases. Start with a simple approach. Just decide if the patient is using a relational reason to purchase or a transactional reason. Once you have that mastered, then you can dive deeper into the exact reasons. Make sure everyone can identify which of the reasons a patient is using to drive their buying decision and what is the best way to approach the patient once you know the buying decision driver.

After you have mastered the previous step, take the next step of focusing on helping patients buy within your practice instead of going online. One question you need to ask yourself is if you need an online presence to give those patients who absolutely feel they must go online a way to do that within your practice. Make sure staff is trained and proficiency tested in handling patients who want to take their prescription and go online. Track how effective you are at keeping prescriptions in-house. Your optical sales reps can be very helpful in this area.

If you feel doctors and staff have mastered managing the buying decision process, then take a further step by brainstorming how you can use this buying decision information in your internal and external marketing, presetting patients to purchase in your office.


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