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How Do Consumers Shop Online for Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses?

07/31/2018

The new reality is that many of our patients are shopping online for everything before they make a purchase. A second reality that you may not be aware of is that for some people online ordering is not as easy as the advocates for this model would have you believe.

  • Patients start with a basic word search and are then bombarded with ad after ad as they are targeted by every eyeglass company on the web.
  • They check online reviews.
  • After they settle into a site that either appealed to them or was highly rated, they begin to look at the frames and the assortment of styles and the volume of lens choices. There is way too much to sort through, too many choices. Even with virtual software, how can they possibly know how they will look, or which coatings will be best for their vision? Or they have no choice at all: the lenses are bundled with the frames, you get what they choose for you.
  • Often the experience ends with them getting discouraged because of shipping costs, unexpected costs and lack of trust in the payment security.
  • Delivery times are often not as advertised, especially if the prescription needs verification or clarification.

It is critical that you always research your competition; knowing ahead of time what they will encounter at other retailers will enable you to make those comparisons. You do not have to be intimidated.  Shopping online is actually not that easy when it comes to such a personal item. For this reason, you need to be clear that if they leave with their prescription and don’t have success at a competitor’s site or business, they will be welcomed back enthusiastically.

  • Establish your motives with a simple handout (see the example below); be sure it’s not just handed to the patient but that there is an interactive conversation between the optician and the patient:

Are you considering purchasing your prescription eyeglasses online?

Please remember to return to us at any time, regardless of where you obtain materials from.

Our first consideration is always that you receive the very best product and services for your comfort vision and health. While we believe we are the best option for you, we understand you may want to shop around.

Our optician is glad to show you the most important considerations to keep in mind when purchasing eyeglasses.

There are more than one or two critical measurements involved in getting a perfect fit and optimal vision.  Many online retailers look at only the PD, pupillary distance, but the other measurements, which are specific to each individual frame, are important as well.

The prescription only tells the optician the strength of the lens, without regard for the way you use your glasses, hold your head, your previous prescription and lens curvature.

The frame selection requires an experienced eye for the angle they sit at, the temple length and adjustability.

The coatings we use are the best available. They are durable and easy to take care of. The most common complaint we see from other retailers is that the coating wore off, was difficult to care for and was impossible to keep clean.

Some of the ill effects of an imperfect fit are not obvious, they may include:

  • Headaches (centering, Base Curve Vertex distance)
  • Neck aches (progressive alignment)
  • Squinting (working distance not compensated for)
  • Constant slipping (poor adjustment, incorrect eye size, bridge width, temple length or all of the above)

If you experience any of the above, consider returning the product.

If you choose another source for your glasses, be sure they have an unconditional full refund policy!

We take great pride in providing beautiful, high fashion frames combined with the highest quality lenses and thorough and professional attention to detail. We offer all of this with very reasonable turnaround time, with rush service available when needed.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

This gives them the confidence that you have an interest in their ultimately receiving a fantastic eyeglasses experience. You may consider mailing or emailing this to patients that have left without making a purchase as well.

  • Develop an online marketing strategy, such that your name will POP when these searches are started. If your patients are searching online they will be impressed to see your ability to communicate with them in a way that they respect.
  • Offer products and services that cannot be obtained, except in a personal, on site setting. Then bundle those services with the products that patients may consider purchasing online. These can include:

Services:

  • Vision therapy
  • Pediatrics specialty
  • Myopia control
  • Vision rehabilitation (ie. traumatic brain injury)
  • Low vision
  • Nursing home care
  • Specialty contact lenses
  • Dry eye specialty
  • Preventative care (ie. nutrition counseling, nutraceuticals, epigenetics)
  • Medical model (most ODs provide some medical care, but some specialize in this area).
  • Lasik consultations
  • Surgery (laws vary by state)
  • Computer vision care

Products:

  • Sell ocular supplements
  • Punctal plugs
  • Dry eye kits
  • Plano suns

Cosmetic Services:

  • Lash Extensions and Lashes to bring out your eyes
  • Eyebrow Shaping to frame your Face
  • Make-up application and consults to highlight your best features
  • Botox to minimize fine lines and raise your eyebrows
  • Go over the top with service, especially delivery time. If they know they can have their glasses in hand within 5-7 days, or sooner if there is a special circumstance, you may be knocking down the last argument they have for going elsewhere. The consumer that thinks they can get their glasses in about an hour, but only after a trip to the mall, may find an expedited delivery time to be the key. It is always about finding out the motivations of each individual patient. Offer convenient delivery options and convenient hours. Definitely have a virtual mirror of some kind; being able to compare styles side-by-side is extremely popular. Keep the pricing as simple as possible. You may want to consider only offering those lenses that you have the most confidence in and simply not compete on the discount level.
  • Be sure that every member of the staff has a solid understanding of the benefit to the patient in purchasing materials from you and that each believes in and communicates the value of staying with you for every vision care need they may have. The conversations during the pre-testing and exam are excellent opportunities to talk about the new frame lines, the newest progressive lenses, the non-prescription designer eyewear for contact lens wearers, the colorful and fun kid’s frames, etc.

The bottom line is, offer your patients what others cannot, and when providing products that you do have in common with competitors, outperform them in every way.

Schedule a meeting with Pat: https://meetme.so/PatBasile

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AUTHOR

IDOC Optometry - Color Bar
Patricia Basile

Patricia Basile

Pat Basile has extensive experience in customer service, management and laboratory operations in the optical field. Licensed in Connecticut and certified by the ABO and NCLE, she has worked in both the large chain stores and in private practices. This gives her a unique perspective in knowing the competition and how best to survive the competitive era that we find ourselves in. She firmly believes that the consumer is much better served at the small, independent and caring optical practice, where they deliver more personal attention to the details that are so important to ensure that a great eye exam is followed by providing excellent eyewear. Pat will listen to your concerns, help you identify those things that can be done to bring your practice to the next level. Some of these things may include setting goals, training optical staff, inventory control and product mix.