WHAT’S YOUR CASE-SELLING STRATEGY?

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Seasonal color schemes, such as the harvest theme of the cases in this fall display at Kat’s Eyes Optical in Phoenix, AZ, can be effective for sales.
THE PROOF IS IN THE PROFITS What about the profit margin? Keystone pricing is a common pricing method of marking cases for resale at an amount that is double the wholesale price. Certainly a higher profit margin can be set depending on various factors including your wholesale price and the current economic conditions in your area. An upscale boutique store may have a higher price point on cases than some other retail locations. High-end specialty cases may warrant a higher dollar profit, too.
Having cases that are fun, colorful, and bright are critical to the sale.
When it comes to case sales, visibility and accessibility are key factors.

The case isn’t closed on eyeglass cases. In fact, eyeglass cases are an integral part of the everyday work in an optical dispensary. They are an important aid to patients who wear ophthalmics and/or sunglasses-they protect the glasses from the elements and even from wear and tear. Every office has its own strategy on how to manage eyeglass cases. I chatted with a few eyecare professionals (ECPs) working in optical dispensaries and some case companies to get an inside peek into “case strategy.”

THE SELLING SITUATION
To sell or not to sell? That is the question. The first and arguably most important question posed to these professionals was about whether to sell eyeglass cases or to give them away with purchase. The consensus was that the majority of eyeglass cases can definitely be sold. Even so, most patients receive a free case with the purchase of a pair of eyeglasses. That’s because there’s an expectation with patients that a free case will come along with the purchase of eyewear. These giveaway cases most often are branded and supplied by the eyewear companies.

PROMOTING THE SALE
When it comes to selling cases, several ECPs indicated some key elements that help promote the sale. Some underlying themes included “Fun!” “Colorful!” “Bright!” In other words, the cases you sell should be eye-catching and unique.

It was pointed out that in many instances, the sale of an eyeglass case is an impulse purchase and because of this, you’re dealing with the buyer’s instantaneous urge to buy it. That feeling doesn’t last long and the longer they think about it, the more likely they are to pass it up. That’s why having items that are fun, colorful, and bright are so critical to the sale. Sure, you can mix in a few less colorful and less eye-catching models, but the ones that will grab their attention are the ones that jump out at them. One ECP pointed out that a bright case is easy to find in a purse or bag, which is a great selling point for customers who don’t wear their eyeglasses all the time (such as contact lens and sunglass wearers).

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
So who should be buying eyeglass cases from you? That was the next question presented to the case experts: Who is the target audience? The reality is that every eyeglass wearer (even plano wearers) are prospects for a case sale. In the instance of children and even teens, however, you’ll be selling to the parents, not the child.

If you’re going to approach a patient about buying a case even though you’ve given them a free one, you’re going to have to present a compelling reason for the case offered for sale. Can this be done? Sure! Giveaway cases are useful but they’re usually not top-of-the-line products. You might give the patient a choice between an open-end, flap, or hard “clamshell” case, but again, it’s probably not a top-of-the-line item. It’s also meant for one purpose: to protect their eyeglasses when they’re not wearing them, not to “wow” them with fashion and features.

Cases for sale should have unique and compelling characteristics. For example, you might offer someone a double case that holds both suns and eyeglasses within one case. Or one that looks like a handbag with a strap that’s suitable for evening wear. How about a neoprene case for a cyclist’s sunglasses, or one that’s made of microfiber that also serves as a cleaning cloth?

Both the ECPs and the case company reps I spoke with stressed that eyeglass case sales are most often impulse purchases. Because of this, one rep
suggested taking advantage of patients’ waiting time. While they are waiting for their eye appointment or to pick up their eyewear orders, make sure all of your specialty cases are visible and accessible.

THE MAGIC OF MERCHANDISING
One way to sell cases is to create a merchandise bundle. An optician I interviewed from an independent dispensary has had success for years with this strategy. While adjusting eyeglasses for a patient, he suggests keeping a screwdriver kit and eyewear case bundle visible on the counter. Another bundle might include a case with a cleaning spray and cleaning cloth. The packages can have some basic cases for women and men all the way up to fancy designer cases and even a bundle including a cleaning cloth with children’s cases.

An ECP buyer I spoke with believes the key to selling cases is keeping the accessories out on display where there is patient traffic. It is more likely to capture that impulse sale when the case can be touched and picked up, not stuck behind the counter or behind glass. Some display ideas include tabletop displays, peg racks, and freestanding displays showcasing a variety of accessories including cases. Even something as simple as a basket can be used for keeping cases in plain sight.

In a small suburban dispensary, the ECP managing the cases uses a wicker basket for getting cases noticed. He has one basket with designer or specialty cases and another basket with standard “giveaway” cases sitting out that cater to both the high-end shopper and the thrifty shopper. The baskets can be moved from a counter to near the register or wherever they might catch a patient’s eye and are easy for a patient to grab. An eye-catching scarf or seasonal piece of cloth can be tied to the handle of the basket for added color and embellishment.

Experienced professionals suggest rotating cases seasonally. Here are some themes and color schemes to keep in mind.

  • Summer: bright, neon colors
  • Fall: harvest colors, like oranges and browns
  • Winter: holiday colors with bold jewel tones and dazzling metallics
  • Spring: pastels and florals

With very little time and effort, cases can be a profitable addition to your dispensary sales. Even though cases are a small portion of total sales, any product that can increase profitability is certainly worth selling! What’s your case strategy?

Kim Pickett is a certified ophthalmic medical technologist and ophthalmic writer in Minneapolis, MN.

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