Store’s client-friendly take-home policy has been boosting sales for a decade.
By CORRIE PELC
Internet eyewear retailers make a big deal of their try-at-home programs. But the idea is nothing new at Styleyes in Sacramento, CA. For 13 years — ever since the shop opened — customers have been able to select frames with the help of a trained optician, then take home several pairs for a few days to decide on a pair (or more) they’ll really love.
THE IDEA: According to owner Eric Geiger, the take-home frame policy is part of the shop’s commitment to customer service. The program gives his clients a chance to get input from family and friends, and to see how different frames work with their wardrobe.
“Because (frames) are so costly, we want to help them make the right decision, even if it takes a couple more days,” Geiger says. “We want to avoid them getting eyewear that they regret a couple of weeks after, and this enables them to do that.”
The program has also helped boost multiple-pair sales. “We always make sure that the customer is taking at least three and up to six frames for perusal, and that usually encompasses a few different looks since we are well aware that a different shape or color can make a dramatic difference on how people perceive you,” Geiger says. “From there it’s not much of a stretch for them to realize that they do need more than one pair. Art for the eyes ... jewelry for the face. Who doesn’t need more than one piece of jewelry or art?”
THE EXECUTION: When customers come into Styleyes, a sales associate writes down information on the frames each person is considering. Geiger says the customer gets a copy of that form, and the shop keeps a copy. Customers who want more time to make a decision can opt to take home up to six frames at a time. Before take-home customers leave, Styleyes staff records the client’s contact information and takes an imprint of their credit card.
Customers are asked to bring the frames back within two to three days — and staff start calling to check in after a week if they haven’t returned. When customers return their first set of take-home frames, they can restart the process if they like. “There are times when a customer will take home four or five frames, bring them all back, start all over again, and take another batch home,” Geiger says.
THE REWARDS: Three to five customers take home frames each week. The program helps Styleyes compete with online eyewear sellers because it’s completely hands-on, Geiger says. “Eyewear is an emotional purchase — you want to see it, you want to touch it, you want to feel it, you want to put it on, and you can’t do that online, so this enables them to be able to do that,” he adds.
In addition to spurring multiple-pair sales, the take-home program has been a boon for customer retention. “They can’t believe we’re willing to do something like that,” Geiger says. “They are well aware of the value of the frames that we’re sending home with them — sometimes we send them home with $2,000 worth of frames — and they really appreciate that.”
DO IT YOURSELF
Set up a take-home program: Track frames going out, get the client’s phone number, and take a credit card imprint. Once returned in perfect condition, shred the credit card imprint.
Styleyes tells customers to take three frames. “If you take one, why bother?” Geiger says. “If you take two, flip a coin. If you take three, you’ll have to make a decision of some sort.”
In 13 years, the shop has only had one customer lose trial frames. “We gave him some extra time to look for them,” says Geiger. “He never did find it, so he did get charged.”
Take-home eyewear is fitted with plano, not prescription, lenses. (Geiger says often customers currently wear contact lenses but are interested in having glasses, too.)
Styleyes also photographs clients in different frames to ease decision making. But the take-home program helps assure people that they’re ordering eyewear they’ll truly love.