If I Owned: Matthew Hudson

People see optical shops as a doctor’s office and not a retailer, so they act like patients, not like customers. When I am at an eyewear shop, I am hesitant to buy. Hip brand names on the frames are not enough. If I owned an optical shop, here’s what I’d do to attract people like me.

Be the one-stop shop for my customers. Typically, I have to go somewhere else to get my prescription filled or wait for my lenses to be ground at some offsite location. It’s very frustrating for me as a customer.

Merchandise like my home, not a doctor’s office. Install comfy chairs in a home seating arrangement versus rows of arm chairs. Buy dining tables from World Market versus those blond workstations I see everywhere.

My employees would be dressed upscale-professional, more like a salon than a doctor’s office. No more scrubs. The women are always in black dresses and the men in black sweaters with gray pants. Only the doctor wears a coat.

Use social selling. The biggest issue for a customer is deciding if they like the frames or not. They need opinions and they honestly do not trust the person in the office. I’d have the ability for my customer to try on a frame live with their friends via social media connections such as Face Time.

I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to use technology in this way. But if you wouldn’t or couldn’t, you could offer a “3 Days — 3 Options” program. Everyone gets three days with the three frames they like best to check with their friends before they buy them.

Merchandise by lifestyle, not by gender. Most stores have a huge wall of frames. If I am going for a certain look, it takes forever. So, I would merchandise by lifestyle, meaning “office,” “home,” “sport” and so on. Categories like these would add a visual reminder that you need different frames for different aspects of your life.

Instead of a thousand frames to choose from, I would edit the vast selection for my customer and only bring them the best quality and fashion. This would give me the opportunity to add other categories not currently in the store but connected to eyewear, such as matching handbags for the eyewear for the ultimate statement. Plus, I would have eyewear cases much like the jeweler has the watch cases for the man with 20 watches.

Start a loyalty program. Give points for referrals and visits that customers can use to buy more frames. Make having multiple frames seem normal.

Matthew Hudson is president of Rick Segel & Associates, the retail expert’s expert. Hudson has 26 years experience in all forms of retail. The company has published over 20 best-selling books on retail including Retail Business Kit for Dummies, The Retail Sales Bible and Signs Sell. Hudson is a frequent speaker at business events. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..