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Thread: Selling Online

  1. #1
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    Selling Online

    Hi there, I am wondering everyone's opinion on selling online. That is, as traditional B&M, should we be starting to sell some of our frame collections online? Perhaps a link from our practice website? I know it won't do much in terms of competing on a global scale, but maybe in terms of patient retention/capture rate for individual clinics? If a practice's capture rate is say 20% and for the other 80% who would normally walk, we give a card or brochure with our webstore on it, would that enhance sales? I recently received a package from a company who develops software just for optoms and opticians that allow them to sell their collections online... wondering if this is even a feasible idea? Any thoughts?

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    Master OptiBoarder DanLiv's Avatar
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    There are plenty of services out there that let practices get into the online glasses game. Problem is they are not the same stuff you likely do in office, and if you are looking to be competitive with online, they certainly aren't the same price. There becomes a disconnect when you have a frame for sale at $300 in office, but you are also selling the same frame on you website for $190. Your in office patients would have good reason to be upset if they paid that price but found they could have had the same thing from the same place with the same service for less. The order fulfillment for Rx glasses is handled independently by the labs that offer the services, and I certainly don't want any eyewear with my brand on it going out into the world without it being my work. We complain about shoddy work from insurance labs, I wouldn't expect anything better from online-order-fulfillment labs.


    Something I would like, but have not found a turnkey solution or service, is a way to offer the convenience of online shopping to my patients (and perhaps my not-yet-but-I-would-like-them-to-be patients), but for my own in office products. It would not be to complete with online vendors, but be a way for patients to learn about my products and even build eyewear at their own convenience, but eyewear to be made by me and measured and dispensed in office as all my other eyewear.


    I find great satisfaction in shopping stores online at my own pace, and then picking product up in-store. I get the convenience of online shopping, but the service experience of the store. This is a less inspiring example if you think Walmart or even Target, where the store experience isn't anything special. But what about Best Buy or Apple? I enjoy the service in both places, and like having someone to ask a few questions about my purchase, but I don't like hanging around in the stores when I'm humming and hawing over purchase decisions. Shopping online I can take as long as I want at home, but then when I finally decide and get my item I receive the back end service without the front end pressure. Also, my pickup in store is a sales opportunity as well, for accessories, upgrades, additional items, service plans, etc. Not everyone would care to shop this way, but I believe more and more people are interested in this model.


    If all my in office product, exactly as I dispense it in office, were available through our website, I would use it two ways: 1) to invite customers to become familiar with all our product, and even pre-select and design their eyewear, before they visit, and 2) to offer in-office patients who aren't ready to make a decision a way to continue their visit at home and online, perhaps with a shopping cart link emailed to them pre-loaded with the frames and lenses already discussed in office. They can ponder, explore, even modifiy features at home at their own pace, and then when they are ready just click "buy now" and DONE. The order is emailed to me at my office, and if everything is complete (take measurements ahead of time to streamline the process) and of quality, I begin work immediately. If not I can call the patient and discuss anything we need to do further.


    I don't know anyone who offers such a customizeable solution without building it from the ground up on a generical sales platform, which would be expensive. I think independent labs should develop this to offer their practices. Some obviously already develop such sites for themselves (I'm sure most of the online vendors are labs themselves, looking to circumvent ECPs and sell directly to consumers), so developing one to give to your practices so they can sell more of your product would make sense, and labs have the capital to invest in such a platform. I would happily pay my lab a monthly service fee for use of such a site, rather than pay Essilor or VSP for their poor solutions.

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    yea, i totally agree with the price differential issue. if i were to do this, i would definitely ensure consistency of pricing. i think, however, it does sometimes come down to more than just pricepoint for patients. convenience and accessibility also count for something, i think. i was also vigilant on needing to control all aspects of what i sell and how i sell it. i am looking at this Optimart software that seemingly allows me to do that? i dunno, still ruminating, but at the price for the software, it may be worth it just for a look....

    www.invisionsolutionsgroup.com is the site btw

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    and i think your point regarding simply allowing patients to browse our collections and products in an online space, but maintaining the tactile nature of dispensing, is a good one.

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    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Ain't no way you're going to be able to maintain that online catalogue.

    Why not simply link Safilo, Clearvision, Lux, Marchon, whomever from your website?

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    OptiBoardaholic CNG's Avatar
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    The online experience has to be a safe and positive experience to your patients under your care.
    I would suggest that all walk outs that do not purchase eye-wear from you (at your real B&M store), to be offered to have their measurements electronically and professionally taken and have them available for them to purchase eye-wear at your "virtual store"

    Those measurements will be available to your lab. Also all eye-wear purchased at your store has to have a warranty and be serviced at the "real store" for such services as adjustments, trouble shooting errors, redos etc.

    Now if your patient decides to not purchase their eye-wear at your store, you shall have their measurements available plus service the outside eye wear at your store including adjustments and troubleshooting the possible errors in manufacturing (even if china made) and remake the lenses if necessary and do replacement of frames if they break.

    Now obviously this extended warranty has to be sold to them at the time the patient decides not to purchase from your store. This extended warranty has a value to your patients and that is what you have to decide. Now the logistic of this extended warranty is beneficial for all parties. The question is how much is it worth to your patients. Once again online eye-wear purchasing has to be a safe and positive experience and the only way is to protect the patient from irresponsible on-liners is to become responsible online eye-wear clinicians by offering an extended warranty that is real and not virtual.


    CNG
    Last edited by CNG; 11-08-2013 at 03:14 PM.

  7. #7
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    With the frames unbundled from you services...curating, display, ATO (Actual Try-On), warranty, fit and services, pricing logic dictates the prices HAS to be lower online.

    Go for it.

    B

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    Quote Originally Posted by CNG View Post
    The online experience has to be a safe and positive experience to your patients under your care.
    I would suggest that all walk outs that do not purchase eye-wear from you (at your real B&M store), to be offered to have their measurements electronically and professionally taken and have them available for them to purchase eye-wear at your "virtual store"

    Those measurements will be available to your lab. Also all eye-wear purchased at your store has to have a warranty and be serviced at the "real store" for such services as adjustments, trouble shooting errors, redos etc.

    Now if your patient decides to not purchase their eye-wear at your store, you shall have their measurements available plus service the outside eye wear at your store including adjustments and troubleshooting the possible errors in manufacturing (even if china made) and remake the lenses if necessary and do replacement of frames if they break.

    Now obviously this extended warranty has to be sold to them at the time the patient decides not to purchase from your store. This extended warranty has a value to your patients and that is what you have to decide. Now the logistic of this extended warranty is beneficial for all parties. The question is how much is it worth to your patients. Once again online eye-wear purchasing has to be a safe and positive experience and the only way is to protect the patient from irresponsible on-liners is to become responsible online eye-wear clinicians by offering an extended warranty that is real and not virtual.


    CNG
    i agree with all of this so much. i think Optimart will allow for us to do that fairly well. at the $675 pricepoint, i decided to purchase the software today. i will review it once we get it going...

  9. #9
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    As I see it, most people searching for on-line prescription eye wear are motivated by the $. Who do you view as your on-line competitor. With sites like Z-----, W-P, and the like, your biggest hurdle is going to be bringing people to your site and then you have to be able to provide the the on-line shopper with a similar cost saving scenario. The things that we do that bring patients to our BM are going to have to be translated to an on-line experience. How well you can make that transition will determine how well you do selling your product on-line.

  10. #10
    Master OptiBoarder DanLiv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Smith LDO View Post
    As I see it, most people searching for on-line prescription eye wear are motivated by the $. Who do you view as your on-line competitor. With sites like Z-----, W-P, and the like, your biggest hurdle is going to be bringing people to your site and then you have to be able to provide the the on-line shopper with a similar cost saving scenario. The things that we do that bring patients to our BM are going to have to be translated to an on-line experience. How well you can make that transition will determine how well you do selling your product on-line.

    Competing with WP and Zenni isn't possible for ECPs, we just don't have the low materials costs, mass volume, and armies of low-paid workers that some labs do. Plus we're no good at making cheap glasses anyway!


    I would want a site to serve my existing, and potential *local*, customers. Remote online shoppers are just cruising for price, but you don't want remote shoppers anyway; how are you going to supply quality care in the form of custom fitting, accurate optical measurements, in person consultation? I would never want to do a full transaction and glasses remotely, but I would like fully interactive ways for my customers to shop my product without having to come in and see me. This would not replace my face-to-face time, but augment it before and after.


    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Ain't no way you're going to be able to maintain that online catalogue.


    Why not simply link Safilo, Clearvision, Lux, Marchon, whomever from your website?

    Essilor's myonlineoptical service intergrates with framesdata, and you can hand select what lines to sell and put in your own pricing. It offers full collection browsing, virtual try on, etc. It's actually very cool and I've considered it from frames sales alone. If their Rx solution didn't take all the decisions and production out of my hands I would do it.

  11. #11
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    yeah dan, i totally agree with your concept to serve existing and local patients. i think Optimart will let us do that. just read thru the short manual and it seems very easy to maintain and use. essilor's myonlineoptical was something i looked at a bit before as well, but ultimately paying a royalty on each sale as well as losing control of all aspects of the product and manufacturing itself was something we were unwilling to submit to.

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    interesting thread.

    a big part of the solution is in how we buy frames. direct-from-factory is more accessible than ever, with minimum order quantities getting lower with certain suppliers. private label, small and focused house collections are feasible today, even for a moderate sized practice. this subset of frames is what you offer out at the aggressive price, lenses included. trying to sell other peoples brands on line is a waste of time, we have all been supporting and building other peoples collections for way too long.
    WP has demonstrated loud and clear that a private label, low priced all-included basic contemporary product offer is hugely appealing.
    the right in-store mix of brands and your own PL is the formula, and selling only your PL online as a package is feasible (same price as in-store). with shopify you could have an online store open in a few days. seems a bit daunting and you need someone managing that. I think a small group of independents around North America should band together and do it.

  13. #13
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    On a recent Wheeler Dealers episode from the past, Mike bought a 1985 Suzuki SJ JEEP, that had corrosion, and was running on only 3 of 4 cylinders, but only cost $500. Throughout the show, as they rebuilt the vehicle, and put in 2300 more dollars, they bemoned all the add'l expense, but kept repeating that the vehicle was "such a deal" for $500.00

    They sold it for $1100...a loss. But... it was a "deal."

    Go figure.

    B
    Last edited by Barry Santini; 11-09-2013 at 10:45 AM.

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    [QUOTE=Barry Santini;472846]On a recent Wheeler Dealers episode from the past, Mike bought na 1985 Suzuki SJ JEEP, that had corrosion, and was running on only 3 of 4 cylinders, but only cost $500. Throughout the show, as they rebuilt the vehicle, and put in 2300 more dollars, they bemoned all the add'l expense, but kept repeating that the vehicle was "such a deal" for $500.00

    They sold it for $1100...a loss. But... it was a "deal."

    Yes Barry you've described the human condition to a tee. People wouldn't expect a lot from online eyewear because it was a "deal."

    Regards,

    Golfnorth

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    They sold it for $1100...a loss. But... it was a "deal."

    Yes Barry you've described the human condition to a tee. People wouldn't expect a lot from online eyewear because it was a "deal."

    Regards,

    Golfnorth


    Yes...for the price, people conclude "how can I go wrong?"

    B

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    If its cheap enough.......it's good enough!

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    Doh! braheem24's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    On a recent Wheeler Dealers episode from the past, Mike bought a 1985 Suzuki SJ JEEP, that had corrosion, and was running on only 3 of 4 cylinders, but only cost $500. Throughout the show, as they rebuilt the vehicle, and put in 2300 more dollars, they bemoned all the add'l expense, but kept repeating that the vehicle was "such a deal" for $500.00

    They sold it for $1100...a loss. But... it was a "deal."

    Go figure.

    B
    That show never takes into account the value of the time and effort spent on the projects, Much like the online eyewear shopper.

  18. #18
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    so it didn't take us long to set up our inventory at least with the Optimart software. pretty easy to use, actually and i have my office manager running the system now. very straight forward.

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    Master OptiBoarder DanLiv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr.eyz View Post
    so it didn't take us long to set up our inventory at least with the Optimart software. pretty easy to use, actually and i have my office manager running the system now. very straight forward.
    You populate all the frame descriptions, features, and photos yourself? Does Optimart come preconfigured with anything?

    Online cart services like Shopify are very flexible, but you have to input everything from scratch. I'm hoping Optimart is a little more optical customized? At least the lens selection flow seems good on the live demo. That's something single product sales platforms have a hard time dealing with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanLiv View Post
    You populate all the frame descriptions, features, and photos yourself? Does Optimart come preconfigured with anything?

    Online cart services like Shopify are very flexible, but you have to input everything from scratch. I'm hoping Optimart is a little more optical customized? At least the lens selection flow seems good on the live demo. That's something single product sales platforms have a hard time dealing with.
    we just had to populate the photos, which were easy enough to find from distro websites and add frame info. everything else like lens options and coatings, etc were pre-programmed into the system and we just had to put in standard prices.

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