It’s no secret that optometric practices are facing a lot of economic challenges ranging from low-quality product driving prices down, disruptive retailers, the influence of managed care, and changing insurance rules. To the patient, these market pressures are invisible. They see a full set of glasses for $99 and wonder why yours are $600. They see bundled pricing at the disruptor, Warby Parker, and don’t understand your coatings or line items. They see contacts that just magically arrive in the mail and wonder why you don’t offer an e-commerce experience.
As people who work in this industry, we’re sometimes too close to the forest to see the trees. Let me break down my recent visit to eyeglass purveyor, Warby Parker, and why it’s so effectively disruptive. We can all learn from what they are doing.
Brick and mortar locations are in places Millennials want to be. You may be thinking they are fools for opening up stores in pricey retail locations, and on paper, you’d be right. The stores are spacious, well-designed, modern, and stocked with people who can look at your face and find the best frame in 10 seconds flat. It’s a very good experience. It does not feel clinical. It feels like high-end retail.
Cool styles and swarm factor. Who goes shopping for glasses with their friends? Warby Parker stores are packed with shoppers of all ages. I even saw a couple on a date picking out glasses. Who does that? The stores in Austin are packed with people buying glasses on impulse. Like a new haircut or color, glasses are an accessory you can shop for with your friends and even strangers who will happily chime in on your potential selection.
All-inclusive pricing. I was quoted $269 for progressive lenses, coating, and frames. As someone who works in the industry, I’m thinking about the quality and what coatings they are including. As someone who is a consumer, I’m thinking “this is an easy and pretty affordable way to add a new style.”
It’s as fast or slow as you want it to be. You pick a frame, they fit your face, you hand over your prescription, and you’re gone. Or you can try on frames at home and live with them for a while before committing. Of course, shoppers there have to do their own insurance filing, which will not be fun later.
So, what else can we learn from Warby Parker?
Part of your practice management might be to have your next patient email or blog post cover how lenses, coatings, and frames combine to become an awesome fashion statement. Do what your competitors don’t, and don’t be afraid to be loud about it. You provide a level of service the retailers cannot.
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