Most opticians know that anywhere from 60% to 70% of their revenue comes from the retail side of their practice.
The problem is, the retail world is extremely competitive-from lower-priced big box stores to the internet marketplace. In addition, other companies, such as Amazon, deliver orders within an hour in major cities and are testing drone options as you read this. While we’re not suggesting you employ drones, this helps to explain how a patient becomes impatient, and why they may have a short attention span and are easily distracted by anything bigger, better, cheaper or different than the rest. What we do suggest is tapping trends in the retail industry and fashion world to help separate you from the competition and successfully compete. Here are five forecasted trends to consider.
Trend #1 Menswear
Men are shopping more than ever before and have traditionally been neglected in the retail industry (including the optical world). In Forbes.com, contributor Bryan Pearson, cleverly calls this the “Menaissance.” Men are outspending women by 13%, and early indicators predict that the menswear market will expand 8.3% next year, he said, sourcing The Boutique@Ogilvy 2016 Men’s Shopping Report. To meet the demand, buy more men’s frames, try out a new menswear brand, embrace a little more color, pattern and interesting frame shapes to provide the best selection and even consider having a men’s event.
Trend #2 Personalization
When people can find better prices online you must stay ahead of the curve in regards to customer service, frame and lens selection, unique services and special offers. That’s because the internet treats shoppers most often as a faceless source of revenue. So play to your strengths and know your customers’ names, where they love to shop, brands they love to wear, their favorite color and one they would never wear. Note these details in their file and impress them the next time they come in. You can also keep track of a frame they wanted but didn’t buy, and call them if it gets marked down or goes on sale.
Trend #3: The “It” Color
Are you familiar with Pantone and all the amazing research this organization does forecasting color trends? Have you picked up a few fashion magazines to see what’s hot for 2017 in men’s and women’s accessories and garments? If so, you would have seen the color of the year for 2017 is Greenery, a light bright lime green (PANTONE 15-0343). Buy some frames in this color, create a display and then talk it up! In the office, you can paint an accent wall this color or buy some fresh flowers that match it. Get social with it and post some pics of the frames and/or your dispensary on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. Even if you don’t have many frames in this color you can still sell with this knowledge. Talk about the trend and how a neutral color such as brown, silver or even tortoise patterns will go great with a bright green fashion piece. Need more inspiration? Visit Pantone’s website to see what colors pair best with Greenery, as well as past colors of the year and trend examples.
Trend #4: Technology
Do you have virtual try-on screens or software, such as the Visioffice 2 from Essilor of America, Inc. or the Spectangle PRO from Hoya Vision Care, installed on tablets or iPads in your practice? Can you take a payment with a smartphone instead of just accepting checks, cash and credit cards? Do you have flat screens showing vendor images instead of cardboard point-of-purchase pieces cluttering up your countertops? Can you turn around a lens fast enough, or will a customer go somewhere else with less wait time? Make a plan as to what you can do now and what you can do over the next year to implement new technology. Shop your competition and other local retailers, attend trade shows and listen to the needs of your staff. To gauge what customers are looking for, a patient survey on a site such as SurveyMonkey.com or your practice management software can help find out.
Trend #5: Merchandising Design
Judy Bell, CEO of Energetic Retail, wrote a fantastic textbook for merchandising students called Silent Selling. She states from her research that over 50% of women in retail settings buy something because they see it on display. So the big questions are: Do you have displays? Do you employ someone truly talented and trained in the craft of creating them? Can your displays be better? Do you have a budget to change these displays monthly or quarterly? Taking a broader view, how is the interior design of your practice? Are you proud of your furniture, fixtures, guest seating, lighting, flooring, bathrooms, exam rooms and countertops? Grocery stores spend millions every few years remodeling fixtures, lighting and so much more just to look new, fresh and exciting compared to their competition. It has nothing to do with fitting more merchandise or being dated, but rather it’s about staying ahead of the curve. Get help, take notes, create a budget and make a plan!
To not get overwhelmed with new trends, pick and choose to your advantage. Discuss these ideas with your staff and get feedback as to what everyone feels will impact your patients the most. Create or plan with a timeline and budget and designate staff members to lead each project. Don’t be scared to ask for help from professionals, or consider local college students studying design.
Travis J. Reed is CEO of Creative Visionary, Inc.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Essilor of America, Inc. 800.542.5668 • EssilorUSA.com // HOYA Vision Care, North America 877.528.1939 • HoyaVision.com • SalesSupport@HoyaVision.com // Morel 800.526.8838 • Morel-France.com // neubau Eyewear 800.223.0180 • neubau-Eyewear.com // Tura, Inc. 800.242.8872 • Tura.com