USING DESIGNER SUNGLASSES TO BUILD YOUR SUNWEAR BUSINESS

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Choosing to align your designer sunglass marketing with social media venues helps to reach a larger patient community (Marcolin’s Tom Ford Style No. FT0335 shown here).
Many large optical frame companies offer wonderful sun collections that coincide with their ophthalmics (Alexander McQueen Style No. AMQ4234S from Safilo shown here).
Offering designer sunwear like Marchon’s Emilio Pucci collection is a powerful way of helping to let patients know you’re an optical trendsetter (Style No. EP735S shown here).
Stocking your boards with designer sunwear such as Luxottica’s DKNY is a great way to differentiate your practice (Style No. DY4112 shown here).
UV PROTECTION Some inexpensive sunglasses do not provide for adequate levels of UV protection. When a patient is wearing a pair of sunglasses like these, their eyes are given a false sense of protection. This can cause more damage to their eyes then if they weren’t wearing a pair of sunglasses at all (because their pupil dilates behind the dark lenses). Quality designer sunglass manufacturers ensure their lenses block out all of the harmful UV rays and some even block blue light.

Carrying designer sunwear is a surefire way to attract consumers to your practice.

Remaining a prominent player in the eyewear world in the eyes of the consumer can be really challenging. With lots of competition, positioning your office as a leader and trendsetter requires planning and knowledge of which goods to stock and sell. This means including not just ophthalmic designs but sunglasses. In order to satisfy patients while growing your practice, designer sunglasses should be considered as a key ingredient. Here’s how.

IT’S EASY

Going designer with your sun inventory doesn’t take a lot of work. In fact, many large optical frame companies make it simple for you by offering wonderful sun collections that coincide with the ophthalmic frames they produce. Not only do the fashion design brands such as Safilo USA’s Gucci or Alexander McQueen provide a nice mix of frames, models, and color options, they also provide frame styles needed to meet the demands of your patient base.

Choosing to increase your sunwear frame count with divisions you already sell in ophthalmic eyewear makes a lot of sense from both marketing and branding standpoints because you can use synergy branding to help boost the sale of both segments. There’s an added benefit of keeping your frame dollars with a large frame firm too. If you make a decision to carry 20 pairs of Alexander McQueen suns and 20 pairs of Gucci suns, and find that one of the brands is selling through much faster than the other, you can easily swap the slow-selling product out for the brand that is hotter for your location.

DESIGNER SUN ADVANTAGES
While there may be a demand for some patrons who are after chain store pricing and baited BOGO sun deals, stocking your boards with designer sunwear is a great way to differentiate your practice and earn some new patients who are searching for higher-end products.

Designer ophthalmic sun brands, sold exclusively in optical retail stores, set design trends and are a testament that suns come in all shapes, styles, sizes, and colors. Premium sun collections from ClearVision Optical, for example, let you offer runway sunwear styles from brands such as BCBGMAXAZRIA, Cole Haan, Ellen Tracy, and Marc Ecko Cut & Sew.

In addition, designer products tend to be made of higher-quality materials, often include upgraded sun lenses, and are more durable. A designer sun purchase can also serve as a conversation-starter while wearing them, and can easily be justified as a new sun accessory for those fashion-forward patients.

INTERNAL MARKETING

Inventory merchandise placement is critical in most offices to maximize sun sales. Whenever possible, keep your sunwear as close to the front door, windows, and anywhere else where there is ample sun exposure to help patients think about a new pair of sunglasses. Don’t forget about patient dilating and waiting areas too. These areas are commonly overlooked, and in many cases can help sell sunwear to your patients with minimal staff assistance.

While selecting new sunglass inventory, remember to ask your sales representatives if there are any displays or rotators that would be available to you at no cost with your purchase. Most of the bigger companies have large inventories of display goods to help you sell their products. Savvy manufacturers even go as far as to provide gorgeous lit-up, rotating, and locking towers to help you market your sun presence to patients. What makes rotators particularly attractive is that they save space, keep all their products centralized, provide security, and include storage underneath for cases and supplies. Some even have illuminated, built-in polarized demonstrators to help your patients quickly understand the difference in sun lenses.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
As more social media and marketing sites gain popularity, choosing to align your designer sunglass marketing with these venues helps to reach a larger patient community who may have not known you were there. For example, it’s not a bad idea to have a practice Facebook page or Twitter account to broadcast announcements from which you can highlight new collections.

Here’s an example: “œABC Optical just received the new spring 2014 Tom Ford sun collection (from Marcolin USA). Stop in and see some of the most cutting-edge frames on the market!” Be sure to highlight the post with a picture of the designer frame in your office. Other postings might draw attention to a new designer sun trunk sale you are planning. Best of all, every time you post virally online, you are helping to make your practice earn a stronger presence by optimizing search engine results to draw more traffic to your office. This can help lead to even more designer sun sales.

EDUCATING STAFF
Training your staff members on the different aspects of fashion, design, and quality will go a long way to helping improve your designer sun sales figures. A good idea to consider is making time for them to skim through the latest fashion and optical industry magazines like VCPN and Sunglasses magazine to see what’s hot. The more they know about what’s going on in the sun fashion world, the better they will be in recommending proper products, and the more they will know about the sunglasses you offer.

Have the sun frame representatives come in and educate your staff on what makes their products different. Learning selling points such as, “œThis frame was constructed in Italy and made from Mazzucchelli acetate,” can go a long way in helping justify the expense to a price-shocked patient. Every staff member should know which sun lenses are polarized and which are not in each frame you sell. Teach them about coatings, how to care for them, and what makes one brand different from another. Focusing on these techniques is a sure fire way to building that all-star sunwear staff.

Offering designer sunwear is a powerful way of helping to let patients know you’re an optical trendsetter and leader in your community. Don’t overlook its potential to help you grow your business.

Frank Gimbel, Jr. is a licensed optician and owner of Gimbel Eye Associates in Wayne, PA.

WHERE TO FIND IT:

Clear Vision Optical
800-645-3733 • cvoptical.com

Luxottica
800-422-2020 • luxottica.net

Marchon Eyewear
800-645-1300 • marchon.com

Marcolin USA
800-537-9265 • marcolinusa.com

Safilo USA
800-631-1188 • safilo.com

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