Eyecare Practice vs Amazon: How Can ODs Win?

Posted by Jeff Rezabek on Tue, Oct 23, 2018 @ 11:10 AM

There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, but having a full understanding of who your competitors are and how your optical practice can compete against them will help you educate your patients on making informed buying decisions for their eyecare needs.

This featured article comes from the folks at The Optical Vision Site. In this post, they provide some great tips on how your practice can compete against retail giant, Amazon.

10 Ways Your Optical Practice Can Compete Against Amazon

There have been many complaints against online retailers and companies such as Warby Parker, but never once has anyone screamed about the biggest elephant in the room: Amazon. While Amazon cannot give an exam, you can buy eyeglasses, sunglasses, readers, and accessories on Amazon for a low price. It is easy to do, as over 244 Million people log into Amazon everyday. So, what's stopping them from picking up a pair of sunglasses while they browse
compete with amazon

Eye Bogglers

  • 100 Million Amazon Prime Users (as of 2018)
  • 584 Billion Total Sales  (2013-2017)
  • 304 Million Active Users Worldwide (2018)
  • 39% Growth Rate yearly

Least you think people are only buying books and electronics from Amazon:

  • 2017- Amazon acquires organic powerhouse, Whole Foods, in order to dominate grocery delivery services.
  • 2016- Amazon launches Style Code Live to beef up selling fashion apparel.
  • 2018- Launches first cashier-less grocery store.

What Can You Do?

1.) Know your customer better. Track data and track some more. Customer demographics, age, sex, and interests all add into getting to know your customers and how you can buy the best products and offer services that are geared toward the consumer. If you distribute these demographics surveys through an automated patient recall or email marketing tool, you'll be able to transfer the data to excel and visualization software more easily.

2.) Market effectively. Everybody has sales (Yawn). Have a few special events such a themed trunk shows, laughing yoga parties, donations, or product launches. Focus on what your customers respond well to, because you want genuine engagement. Make your dispensary a destination experience.

3.) Beef up the customer service. You think yours is excellent, but it can always be better. What more can you do to engage your customers? What policies do you have that are not customer-centric? Are the employees empowered to make customer service decisions. What does your competition do that delights the consumer? You're aiming for great online reviews, because more consumers are turning to Zocdoc, Yelp, Google Reviews, and other websites to choose healthcare professionals.

4.) Buy smart. Your frame boards could be up to as much as 80% of your income. Every frame should be managed for sell-through and based upon previous sales data and trends. Buy smart and manage the turns. You will have less dead stock and more money.

5.) Train staff. Your staff may be all certified opticians, but can they correctly do billing, answer phones, fit contact lenses, and check patients in? Make sure everyone is trained on the basics for busy season, sick days, and emergency situations.

6.) Merchandise effectively. Visual merchandising has several functions. When used effectively it can cut down on your total SKUs, but most importantly enticing displays sell the product. Re-merchandise on a consistent basis, moving around and re-displaying slower moving products. When merchandising eyewear, tell the story of the brand and write product descriptions that rival those online.

7.) Track sales and manage the finances. Data rules in managing a business. Data tells you which staff are pulling their weight, data tells you if you can pay your bills, and data tells you what is profitable in your business. Track and manage your finances on a daily basis. If you are employing an open book management platform with your employees, have the data available to them on a weekly basis.

8.) Take advantage of the fact that you have a brick and mortar location. People are welcomed at your store, they can try on the merchandise, they can get face-to-face, expert opinions (not online chats). Use your store to its full advantage by providing a unique experience and an instagrammable space.

9.) Build a personality for your brand. Make it fun, make it interesting, make it informative, make it unusual, and make it so people want to come see you. Rebranding may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth it if your current logo, mission, or vision has become outdated through the years. It's always a sign of success that your practice has stayed afloat long enough to enter a new era of design and functionality, so milk it. Let your patients know that exciting changes are coming and throw a mini celebration.

10.) Make Buying Local Important in your messaging. Let your customers know the importance of shopping local and how it can build a better community. Especially for eco-friendly customers, local businesses elevate the quality of life for everyone and make consumers feel like they can see where their money is going.

It's not just Amazon that is your competition, most retailers have created an e-commerce platform as well. Our tips should be refined over and over in the planning of today and tomorrow.

For more helpful information on competing against online retailers, visit The Optical Vision Site.

Visit the Optical Vision Site

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on August 17th, 2016. It has been updated for relevance and richness of content on October 23rd, 2018

Tags: Optical Dispensing, Resources, Customer Service

Looking for tips to grow your eyecare practice business? Read on!