Strategic placement of suns within a retail space, like the ones shown here at Character Eyez in Naples, FL, can help drive sales.
Knowing your market is critical to sales performance, and is a major contributing factor in the success of places such as the Eye Bar in St. Louis, MO.
Nothing will help boost your sun sales more than a staff that’s well versed in all the new sunwear benefits and options on the market. If you have sunwear knowledge to impart to other staff members, share it. Your office is only as strong as your weakest link and educating your staff about the lenses, frames, and other product options you will help highlight your location as a complete sunwear center.
While it’s a good idea to try offering new collections, try to prevent surprising your patients with a product mix that shifts to aggressively with bigger price tags. If $100 is your average sunwear price, don’t just transition to items with a $500 price tag. If this is where you want to be, consider making the transition slowly by increasing the average frame sale in smaller increments, over a few years’ time.

Selling sunglasses can be an art, and if performed properly, will set your office apart from your competition.

Learning how to successfully market and sell sunwear is a great way to boost your optical business and create a one-stop shopping experience for your clients. The following tips are based on my own experiences and those of several successful optical retail colleagues.

You can’t sell what you don’t have available. If your dispensary only has a handful of sunglass selections, you may not have the proper inventory mix to satisfy all tastes. Potential sales may walk because you’re not showing enough sunglasses in stock. To proactively combat this, have a balanced mix of tiered-priced frames to meet the demands of your area. To do this, it’s important to know your market, location, and patient population.

If you can determine who your primary sun sales targets are (for example, specific indicators like women vs. men within five miles of your location, age brackets, and average income), you will have enough information to provide the sun inventory that will cater to your patients’ needs. Accurately taking the time to complete this research will equip your optical shop with the proper tools to efficiently sell sunwear and prevent having too many dollars tied up in inventory.

Having control over your cost of goods is important for any optical shop, and having a sunwear frame budget provides a set target for your frame buyers and prevents accidental overspending. Establish a sufficient piece count, too, since it provides that first appearance to a potential sun shopper. If they believe you do not have what they’re looking for because your inventory appears sparse, they may too quickly walk and choose a suns specialty shop that provides wider choices.

After establishing your sun plan and product mix, where you display sunwear within your store is a huge factor for sales. Inventory merchandise placement is critical to maximize sun sales. Whenever possible, keep your sunwear as close to the front door, windows, and elsewhere in your office where there is lots of sun exposure to help your patients think about a new pair of sunglasses. Having them set up in this manner creates a situation where they have to pass them twice: once on the way in, and again as they leave. Also, showcasing your sun products this way may help lure in a passerby in for a try-on and sale. Don’t forget about patient-dilating and waiting areas, too. These are commonly overlooked and can help sell the sunwear with minimal staff assistance.

After you’ve completed your homework on area demographics, steer your marketing to the targets that are most prevalent in your area. Here is where it is highly beneficial to have a Facebook page for your store, a Twitter handle, or any other social media presence to help bring you new patients and allow for existing ones to see what you have.

If, for example, you know you have a large amount of college-aged patients in your vicinity, you may want to create sunwear marketing geared toward more youthful sun collections. If you have many patients who are skiing or water enthusiasts, let them know about the latest and greatest sun gear, or that you are an authorized retailer to sell, repair, service, and fix their goods. Many of the larger sun companies will even highlight your store on their websites to better help direct buyers to your store.

An extra helping hand is always welcomed when it comes to earning additional optical sales, and the best places to begin this is during the scheduling phone call and within the exam room. If your office schedules patient appointments by telephone, have your staff member remind them to not only bring their contacts and clear eyeglasses with them, but to remember to bring their sunglasses with them too. Many of them may not even have sunwear so this helps get them thinking about sunwear. After they arrive, have the optical staff evaluate their sunglasses, measure the protection factor such as UV, and discuss the merits and benefits of options like polarization and backside AR coating.

If your office has a prescriber, make sure the doctor is aware of the entire array of new sun technology on the market and have them prepared with information to share with the patients in the exam room. Another good idea is to have your doctor wear some of the new sun technology to help provide first-hand testimony to patients on its benefits and merits. By focusing on sunwear in this manner, patients are conditioned to think about it from the initial scheduling call, all the way through the completion of their annual exam.

A new technique that’s catching on is to sell suns first. This means starting off each transaction by telling the patient, “We’re going to lead off by picking out your new sunglasses before we pick out your new dress glasses.” When you start with their ophthalmics, you’re implying that it’s the most important pair. Starting with the sunwear implies that this is the most important pair. Sure, you’ll get resistance from some patients but this technique works. Too often, sunwear is undervalued as a necessity by our patients, and by selling them first, your sun sales totals are only going to grow.

Find out about what’s hot in your area and what suns-based events are popular with large amounts of participants and spectators. Prime examples are 3k and 5k runs, half marathons, full marathons, and triathlons. These events often have booths at race registration, with product specialists who can offer the necessary gear to get the best results. This could include new sport sunglasses for sale at your practice. Not only will this help your annual sunwear sales, but the exposure could help you earn extra patients for your practice.

Building a successful sunwear practice takes some work but the benefits to your business can be substantial.

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


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