In today's fast-paced world, industry trends come about at rapid speed. Some of them change the way your practice performs its everyday tasks, and some are fleeting, leaving just as quickly as they arrived. It can be difficult at times to know which trends are the game changers that you need to put your time and effort into. We've spotted a couple of optical dispensing retail trends that have been making a big impact this year, and if your practice isn't already implementing them in your dispensary, now is the time to start!
Everything is moving to online platforms, including customer service. It isn't enough anymore to just be on top of your game in your office, you have to be interacting with your patients online as well. Your practice is going to be challenged with the task of finding interesting and unique ways to stand out from other practices online with your interaction methods. Make sure your website is updated with accurate information about your practice, and any other details that a patient, or soon to be patient would want to know. Be sure to include all of your practice's contact information like email addresses, physical address, and phone numbers so that patients feel encouraged to reach out to you.
Social media also serves as a great way to build positive relationships with your customer base. Encourage interaction by inviting your customers to share their experiences with your practice online. This can be as simple as having a promotional hashtag asking patients to take pictures showing off their new frames.
Demand for Unique Products
The demand for high-end products has proven to continue to grow, but more than that, customers want something that is one-of-a-kind. There is a move to limited edition eyewear, and your practice should be including these options in your dispensary. The desire for unique frames is a great plus for your practice. As an independent practice, you have the flexibility to choose which frames you keep in stock versus large retailers that have their inventory dictated by national sales plans. This means that you can market individuality by customizing your inventory to meet your patients' wants and needs.
Collaboration as a Marketing Tool
Blend branding has been on the rise for a while now, and the benefits it offers are sure to make this trend one that will stick around. Reach out to other businesses in your town to create collaboration efforts. You could consider offering combo promotions with other local independent businesses, and even share marketing efforts encouraging members of your community to shop local. Collaboration efforts will prove to be efficient for your independent practice as you increase exposure for a smaller cost!
Online Shopping Becoming the Norm
The convenience of online shopping has proven to be successful. Customers love to be able to make their purchases right from home, whenever they want. Obviously a proper frame and lens fitting needs to be done in person by an optician, but there are some ways you can still jump in on this trend. Virtual try-on features allow patients to select the frames that best fit their style from the comfort of their home. If your practice website isn't equipped for that kind of technology, you still have a couple options.
You can keep photos of the frames you keep in your inventory online, so patients can browse through your dispensary before coming into your practice. You can even add a preference form to the patient forms your patients fill out online before their visit, asking patients to list color and frame preferences so that your optician can pull some frame options to show to the patient at the time of their visit.
Since patients are likely going to be visiting your practice website to browse frames online ahead of time, make sure you are taking advantage of the opportunity to educate your patients on the importance of getting fitted by an optician. Explain to your patients how when purchasing frames online from large retail giants like Warby Parker, they can't ensure that their frames and lenses fit exactly the way they should, which can lead to discomfort and even vision problems.
The movement of eco-friendly products isn't all that new, but it certainly isn't going to go out of style anytime soon. Your dispensary should feature frames that use recyclable or eco-friendly materials, and frames that give back. You can devote a section of your dispensary to highlight one line of "friendly frames" each month. Be sure to include information of what makes these frames so great explaining to patients the types of materials that are used, or how the company is making a difference.
Ditching the "Hard-Sell"
The days of the powerful hard sell are fading fast. Customers, who are often over stimulated with advertisements surrounding them at all times, are looking for brands with whom they connect with, not those that are pushing products in their face. We suggest avoiding hard-sell methods when possible and opting for the relationship building benefits of the soft-sell. You can encourage your patients to relate with your brand by sharing patient education materials and other fun eye-related content online through social media sites and patient portals. This softer approach creates brand loyalty, which has more of a long-term effect.
If your practice isn't taking advantage of these trends and utilizing them to boost profits in your practice, now is the time to start!
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