ECPs are branding their own lenses, and these four technology companies have developed the software so you can too.
As more eyecare professionals (ECPs) are starting their own labs, some are offering private label/house brand lenses. These are becoming more popular as ECPs look to provide their patients with free-form optics along with savings at the same time that they further their practice’s brand. This house brand strategy has been around for many years with many examples in almost all industries.
Private label products were traditionally defined as generic offerings that competed with their nationally branded counterparts by means of a price-value proposition, often serving as a lower priced alternative to the “real” thing. However, in the past, store brands carried the stigma of inferior quality and therefore inspired less trust and confidence.
Today, house brands have clearly become a more instrumental priority for retailers. They are starting to diversify their offering beyond the expected, enabling them to compete more effectively in existing product categories and venture into new territories traditionally dominated by national brand players.
There are a number of advantages to entering into the private label/house brand arena, including the opportunity to create a personalized image that leads toward customer loyalty, the fact that customers’ preferences are moving toward private label products, and having more control over pricing, production, marketing, distribution, and ultimately, profits.
3 PRIVATE LABEL LENSES
The three types of private label lenses available on the market today are digitally manufactured single vision lenses, digitally manufactured progressive lenses and conventionally manufactured progressive lenses.
Digitally manufactured lenses comprise the fastest growing sector of the corrective lens marketplace. There is double digit growth annually. Pricing of these lenses can often be substantially less for both wholesale and retail, although that is not always the case because, depending on your lens offerings, some of the more advanced private label lenses can be more expensive. What is sure, though, is there are many opportunities for increased profit margins for both wholesale and retail, along with competitive retail pricing and value for consumers.
The following companies, their lens products and designs can help a practice start offering private label/house brand lenses:
Crossbows Optical Ltd., a Signet Armorlite Group Company
While Crossbows Optical R&D has been producing outstanding glass molds and polycarbonate inserts for over 30 years, since the early 2000s the company has dedicated its efforts to the development of free-form lens designs for its own glass lenses and for labs producing digitally surfaced plastic lenses.
From premium progressives to specialized occupational designs to high-definition single vision lenses, Crossbows’ range of products offers a solution to any lab. And the company’s expertise doesn’t end there; Crossbows Optical can create any lens design custom-made to a customer’s specifications.
Crossbows Optical has also developed proprietary lens technologies to enhance the optical performance of its products and has been instrumental in breakthroughs in the optical industry, producing specialty products for test market projects and product research.
Crossbows has at least 10 lens designs that can be offered as private label/house brand options. These optional designs include multiple progressive options, single vision, digital fatigue lenses, a progressive design for children and even a blended bifocal.
Indizen Optical Technologies (IOT)
Starting as a joint venture between members of the Optics Department at the University Complutense of Madrid and the software company Indizen Technologies, IOT combines in-depth knowledge of ophthalmic optics with enterprise-level software development. This combination of skills was oriented to create the first company specialized exclusively in free-form lens design.
From the beginning, IOT has considered free-form technology as the key innovation that will let independents be successful in this increasingly demanding industry. But harnessing the potential of free-form technology requires more than just new polishing and cutting machines. IOT offers the rest of the ingredients: accessible know-how on advanced free-form lenses, custom-made state-of-the-art lens designs and exclusive service. Working together with IOT, any independent Rx lab can be as innovative and competitive as the big leaders of the industry.
With this idea in mind, and as the result of a continuous effort in R&D, IOT launched the first version of its technology, an innovative Lens Design Software (LDS). Ever since then, this revolutionary technology is constantly being improved and expanded based on the feedback from customers.
Today, IOT has attained a preeminent position as a provider of free-form lens designs, partnering with customers around the globe.
In early 2010, IOT partnered with Younger Optics, based in Torrance, CA, to help expand its business in North America, and around the world, by forming IOT of America, a sales and support division focused on customer care in the Americas.
While IOT specializes in selling lens designs to labs with free-form capacity, the company has started selling lens blanks as well. In addition, IOT has also expanded into the development and sales of new photochromic technologies. Its high degree of specialization makes IOT a unique company in the lens industry worldwide.
Independent labs with free-form technology can now produce lenses with the same level of quality and sophistication as the big global players in the industry. At the same time, they can offer better service to opticians and optometrists, due to proximity and personalized attention. With at least 15 design options that include anti-fatigue, computer, sports and single vision lens designs, IOT provides the opportunity to offer your own, exclusive products.
Ocuco, gives both labs and ECPs a competitive edge by providing innovative lens design software specifically developed to enable private label or house brand options. Unique designs that are not available from large scale competitors offer patients added value and builds loyalty.
Ocuco is uniquely positioned to partner with IOT, one of the most advanced of the digital lens designers, and to deliver lens design software in conjunction with its leading practice management and lab software solutions, Acuitas and Innovations.
Hundreds of years of domain knowledge is at the backbone of Ocuco’s consulting service, which can map out the ROI of adding free-form or anti-reflective coating to the businesses portfolio and give advice on equipment, facility layout and financing. Ocuco will also advise on which lens designs are best for the lab or practice and also on the process of launching a new design brand.
For those new to free-form and its added value, Ocuco offers training for practice or lab staff to highlight and sell the benefits of the latest digital design products, providing the best optical solution for the needs of the patient.
Ocuco has developed two of the most comprehensive ranges of practice software on the market for opticians, ophthalmologists and optometrists today, as well as the market leading optical laboratory management software in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. The company has been supplying and supporting Windows-based optical practice and lab management systems since 1990 and today has a complete range of products to suit every need. Applications have been developed to deliver real, measurable business benefits to practices and groups wishing to make the most of computer technology.
With over 25 years in the optical industry, Ocuco employs more than 200 employees with optical lab or optical practice experience in offices throughout the world in the U.K., the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia and China. It services over 5,000 sites worldwide, including independents as well as regional and national chains.
PFO Global, Inc.
PFO Global, Inc., which was originally known as Pro Fit Optix, has been in business since May 2008 and is headquartered in Farmer’s Branch, TX. PFO Global is an innovative commercial provider of quality lenses and prescription eyewear for ECPs. With a unique blend of lens brands, an easy-to-use online ordering portal and fashion forward value eyewear packages, PFO Global offers customers access to premium products and services at an affordable price with the added efficiency needed to remain competitive in today’s market.
PFO Global has three in-house free-form lens options which include the Upgrade single vision lens, the Acuity free-form progressive and the Identity series, which offer designs based on patient lifestyles and usage including home, office, outdoor and general use.
HOUSE BRAND PROS & CONS
The pros and cons practices should consider before
venturing into private label/house brand lenses are:
• profit margins
• competitive edge
• branding support for the practice
• limited lens options/add-ons
• no marketing support from branded products
• insurance limitations
Mark Johnson, ABOC, NCLC, LDO, is the director of optical services at Virginia Eye Institute in Richmond, VA.
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