E-commerce is growing and consumer behaviour is changing – globally. This makes a sensitive item such as glasses, a worthy topic to discuss in relation to e-commerce.
In America – over the last five years, there was industry growth of almost 4.5% in the online eyeglasses and contact lens sales segment. This has resulted in a revenue of more than $1 billion in 2019. At the same time, online businesses have grown by more than 4.5%. The number of people who are employed has grown by 6.5%.
There are currently more than 1500 businesses providing eyeglasses online.
Good News –
Online sales of prescription glasses in Australia is small. According to statistics, approximately 4 to 8% of all prescription glasses are obtained online.
A large study found about half the online glasses had the wrong prescription or other problems. The consumer watchdog in the UK said 27% of glasses ordered from nine online stores failed quality tests.
Bad News –
Increasing numbers of people are now becoming aware of online savings.
The industry still has time to combat this trend – it still will happen to some degree, but we need to minimise it.
What can your business do NOW to minimise online optical purchases?
Have a strong online presence
- People will search online first, so ensure your web site, social media, Google AdWords, SEO are regularly updated.
- Ensure Social Media and Web Site are cohesive.
- Advertise on Social Media in your catchment area regularly.
- Have your own online shop – if you can’t sell online you need the strong online presence to entice them to your store
- Or can you align yourself with an online store? Team up and work with your suppliers?
- People can and will search online, even while in your store, for cheaper prices elsewhere – ensure your frame prices are competitive, can you price match?
- If your prices are not competitive, your staff need to be able to point out the differences and reasons quickly. ie multifocal lenses, build, coatings and scratch resistance, fake frames online…
- Offer payment plans
- What is your turn around time? Can you beat an online store?
- Offer services online stores can’t match – ie style advice, in-store technology, eye testing
- Can you give them their prescription if they ask but not the pupillary distance
- Offer breakage repair service or guarantees
- Ensure your staff are well trained and friendly – customer service is the key
- Hard sell doesn’t work, but the art of selling does – your staff need to know and be versed in the differences
- By shopping online customers don’t get to try the glasses on or have someone help them in person – style advice, budget advice, pricing options additional services UV, scratch resistance, polarised etc.
- After-sales service – an online shop doesn’t do that
- Remind customers that as Optometrists you are trained, medical professionals
- Regular eye checks are important and you don’t know if your eyes are changing unless you visit your Optometrist – like your Doctor