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Physical Stores Can Thrive As Online Retail Grows … Here’s How

Online eyewear sales will only ever get so much of our business.

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ON ITS SURFACE, the rise of the online eyewear industry is directly connected to the decline of brick-and-mortar. While the vast majority of eyeglasses are still sold the “old-fashioned” way, with patients receiving an eye exam in an office and selecting frames in the dispensary, online sales have steadily increased year over year. In 2017, 8 million pairs of prescription eyeglasses were sold online, totaling about 4.2 percent of the market. That growth is likely to explode once consumers are able to access online eye exams. How can physical stores compete?

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Retail Trends are Cyclical

I took my daughter shopping recently, only to gasp at a row of acid-washed jeans like the ones I owned in 1985. Eventually, it all comes back. The same is true of retail sales environments. We’re now seeing the rise of highly differentiated local retail settings where once developers cynically shut-down vibrant, community-based shopping centers in favor of cookie-cutter, big-box retail fronts.

Really, it’s all about local relevance. Shopping experiences are as much about necessity as they are about community. We live in a café society, where people seek the casual ebb and flow of walking down the sidewalk, stopping for food and drinking, gazing through the windows of unique storefronts and enjoying colorful streetscapes and open-air spaces. In the suburbs, especially, retail success demands attention to the location, how the business is differentiated, what community needs it satisfies and how successfully the concept is executed.

An Optical for the Community

When Dr. Joe Borden and I sat down to redesign our optical we not only wanted to transform the space visually, but to create a sense of community through design. All too often, patients sit in a lobby with their head buried in a smart phone, waiting to be called back for their eye exam. Instead, we wanted the space to be shoppable, inviting and inherently social.

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We converted the receptionist’s desk into a coffee bar. Patients could come in, whip up a cappuccino and pull up a chair to chat, or browse our frame collection with a mug in hand. We eschewed a “waiting room” lined with chairs. Who likes to sit and wait? Instead, we offered window seating so patients could gaze at the storefronts and passersby on Washington Ave. We hung paintings by local artists, and opened up the floor plan.

In an age of technological enablement, we brought the buying experience back to the values of the community by mixing the social and the sustainable with customer service and a vibrant, unique retail design. Our business became intimate, locally optimized and differentiated. It worked. We are busier now than ever before, attracting new patients and keeping long-time customers engaged.

No matter how hard vested interests try to force us away from economic gravity, eventually the immutable desires of people in local markets bring the pendulum back to sustainability. In some ways, online retailing may bring us back to a more interesting and relevant blend of retail alternatives.

Rebecca Furuta holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder, and works as a sports vision specialist and ABOC/NCLE optician at Avenue Vision in Golden with Dr. Joe Borden, with whom she co-founded the eco eyewear lifestyle brand, Yeux & Eye (yeuxandeye.com). Email her at admin@avenuevision.com.

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Robert Bell

The Single Best Tool to Help Your Staff to Sell In and Outside the Office

Plus it has the added benefit of showing them you value them.

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JUST BETWEEN US, have you ever fantasized about wanting to give a playful smack to a patient or customer because they did something incredibly stupid? Or, they didn’t do something they were supposed to do in the no-brainer category?

No? Liar!

Well, here’s a no-brainer scenario in which I’d like to smack (playfully!) a hefty percentage of optometric business owners. Ok, honestly, I wouldn’t hurt or embarrass any of you. However, I’ll tell you this: this “no-brainer scenario” makes me pull my hair out of my head. And, folks? I’m bald!

What’s the no-brainer scenario? Business cards.

“But Robert, I have a business card.” I’m sure you do, doctor. Does everyone on your staff have one, too? Everyone? Uh huh. I’m losing more hair as we speak!

From your front desk personnel to your licensed opticians, everyone on your staff should have printed business cards with their name on it, their title (if they want one), the name of your practice, your location(s), your phone number and your website.

Everyone on your staff should be required to carry a few in their purses or wallets 24/7.

Why? So many reasons! Here’s one example from one of my favorite conversations with an optician:

Optician: I was in a Target once and standing behind this woman wearing the most G-d awful glasses. I was thinking, “Omg, who the hell did that to you?”

Me: Did you say anything to her?

O: Um, no.

M: Why not?

O: Whaddya mean, “why not?” What was I going to say?

M: Oh, any number of things. How about, “Hi there. I’m Darla. I was looking at your glasses. I’m an optician. Then … are you happy with them? … or how long ago did you get them? … or where did you get them? Anything to get her talking about her glasses.

O: Why?

M: So you could engage her, find out if you, as an optician, could be of help to her. If so, then you could’ve given her your business card and said, “Here, take my card. Next time you need glasses or an eye exam, come in and ask for me and I promise I’ll take very good care of you.” Then, before you give her the card, you say ‘I’m gonna write on the back of my card to give you $20 off on a pair of sunglasses, if you’re able to come in within the month.’

O: (spurts out a laugh) Yeah, right. Like my OD would pay for business cards for me. Get real. She’s too cheap.

Lord, I’m so bald.

Doctors, by purchasing business cards for your staff (such a minimal investment that can reap in beaucoup rewards), you do the following things:

  • You’re telling them they, as your employee, are important to you.
  • You’re telling them they are an integral part of your team.
  • You’re telling them you’re proud to have them on your team.
  • You make them think you appreciate them and show them so with something tangible.
  • This usually makes them proud of where they work and proud of working for you.

Either you’re proud of your practice and the people who work for you, or you’re not. If you’re not, please disregard what you’ve read here. If you are, well, you know what to do next.

Once your staff is stocked up on cards, it’s time to train them. For Robert’s business card sales training tips visit invisionmag.com/extras.

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Danielle Richardson

Feel Like Your Wellness Routine Could Be Missing Something? It’s Probably Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our life sleeping, which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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WHEN YOU THINK OF your health and wellness, how often do you think of sleep? Chances are not often — but you should. Sleep is the newest frontier in wellness as public health consciousness continues to increase and we move to a more holistic idea of health. We spend nearly 1/3 of our life sleeping which makes getting quality sleep as essential as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

The National Sleep Foundation defines quality sleep as occurring when you’re asleep within 30 minutes of laying down, wake no more than once, and sleep for at least 85 percent of the night. Unfortunately, quality sleep is an uncommon occurrence as the CDC reports a third of American adults experience poor or inadequate sleep on a regular basis. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep-related problems or disorders, such as sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome. As a country, we need to get some rest!

Sleep deprivation increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and triples the risk for type 2 diabetes according to Johns Hopkins sleep researcher Patrick Finan, PhD. Those not getting adequate sleep suffer from a weakened immune system, irregular metabolism, and obesity secondary to increased levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Not limited to just the physical body, sleep deprivation can also manifest as cognitive impairment and/or mental health changes including depression, irritability, anxiety, forgetfulness, and brain fog. Poor quality sleep is far less recuperative, which causes us to not feel rested when do we wake up.

Sleep depends on a number of factors, our body’s internal regulating system is chief among them. Our Circadian Rhythm functions as the body’s biological clock and regulates the experience of alertness vs. sleepiness. This rhythm is sensitive to fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly cortisol and melatonin. Cortisol peaks in the morning allowing us to be alert and focused throughout the day. The secretion of melatonin — which helps us sleep — is highest at night.

These days, our minds are moving a mile a minute and we’re constantly on light-producing digital devices even though increased high-energy blue light exposure from devices decreases melatonin production and causes insomnia or sleeplessness. The disrupting culprits aren’t limited to devices though; increased stress, irregular work schedules, frequent jet lag, and sleep disorders can also disrupt our cycles.

The CDC recommends 7-9 hours of quality sleep for adults and more for teens and children. Here are some easy ways you can get better sleep tonight:

Build Consistency. It’s important to wake and head to bed around the same time each day — even on the weekends.

Use Sleep Monitoring Technology. Smartphones and wearable tech devices can help monitor the duration and quality of your sleep through downloadable applications and Bluetooth technology.

Sleep Habits. Limit screen time and diminish light sources in the bedroom. Additionally, use the automatic setting on your phone to warm the screen at night.

Bonus — Zen Out! Use essential oils or pillow sprays in scents like lavender as aromatherapy to help you sleep. Also consider meditation, light music, or other soothing sounds as a relaxing way to send yourself to bed.

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The Best Calls to Action to Convert Visitors to Patients

CTAs are probably the most important part of your marketing or campaign strategy.

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HERE’S A RIDDLE for you … what can be as simple as two words but is the key to bringing new patients in your door? The answer is: a CTA or call to action.

A good CTA will keep your phone ringing, fill up your appointment calendar and turn your website visitors into new patients. So, what exactly is this magic little phrase and what makes a good one?

What is a CTA?

A CTA is phrase that instructs or encourages a user to take a specific action, such as booking an appointment, signing up to a mailing list, calling the office, or getting more information about a promotion. It can (and should) be used in basically any form of marketing from your website, to a landing page, to a Facebook promotion, email or even a radio ad.

Each element of your marketing is designed for one ultimate purpose — to bring in appointments and optical sales — and if you fail to include a CTA, you risk losing potential patients who may delay or not otherwise take the next step toward that goal.

Making the call to your office or action easy and quick reduces lag time and drop off rates.

So, what makes a good CTA? A good call to action makes it very clear what action you want visitors to take and gives them the tools they need to do so. The best CTAs address the what, when and why of taking the next step and usually have the following traits:

WHAT: They use action verbs to direct conversion such as: “Call our office, Fill-out an appointment form, Book an appointment, Contact us, Visit our office etc.” The best CTAs are those that include the words that would follow the phrase, “I would like to…”

WHEN: They use time-sensitive wording such as, “Today, Now, Don’t Delay etc.”

WHY: They are often benefits-oriented, answering the question of why one should take the action: “Take care of your precious eyesight, Save time and money, etc.”

They stand out using bright colors and bold text. They are clear and easy to spot, and they are most effective when placed in the header and/or at least above the fold. They should also show up prominently on both desktop and mobile devices. And in case you’re wondering, circle buttons stand out more and work better than rectangles.

They are easy to use. Nowadays, clickable buttons, especially on mobile friendly sites, are the way to go. If your visitor can click a CTA button on your site and schedule an appointment or call your office directly, you’ve eliminated almost every obstacle. What could be easier? We recommend a CTA attached to an embedded online scheduler when possible that allows patients to instantly see your availability and book an appointment.

Now there’s one catch… there is such a thing as too many CTAs on a page. You don’t want to overdo it. Think top, bottom, and once in the middle is ‘enough’, they’re easily accessible and they get the job done.
The next time you’re working on your website or scheduling a promotion, stop and think about your CTAs. They are probably the most important part of your marketing or campaign strategy.

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