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Thread: Is a golden age of optical on the horizon?

  1. #1
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Is a golden age of optical on the horizon?

    OK, hear me out. There are a lot of assumptions about to be laid out.

    The fundamental value proposition rule is that there is 1. service 2. quality, and 3. price. Choose two.

    1. Mall shopping is going to plummet to next to nothing, I feel. For whatever reason, it's just out, out, out. How is the 40-year old juggernaut "mall optical" going to survive? You know, the Lenscrafters', the old D.O.C. model, etc. What would the industry look like with the extreme contraction of mall superopticals? Value proposition won't apply because nobody will go. Rating: super bearish

    2. Internet shopping is very, very likely to propel online glasses buying into the stratosphere. This is not going to be a good option for most. Maybe a good enough option for some. What is the optical world going to look like with tons of DIY optical jobs? We have online nobodies making glasses for adventurous buyers with nary an input from a human. There's always a cellar dwellar, and this will become the new cheap way to do things. Value proposition? S= beyond zero. Q= low. P= inexpensive. Rating: very bullish.

    3. There are freestanding chain-type opticals. I can see these proliferating because I think that's how "bricks and mortar" buying is going to be conducted. But these have been traditionally very bad. VSP is in this space, now, and I don't expect them to succeed, either. Thow EyeMart and Pearle in here. These have expensive overhead, and need to sell higher end product, but there's probably quite a dearth of good expertise available. I think this will have a better environment for buying than #4. Value proposition? S = meh, Q = meh, P = meh. Rating: somewhat bearish.

    4. Buying club-type opticals and Target/Walmart. I would call these discount opticals. They have hosts that probably can make operators a sweet deal, as the hosts see value added for their shoppers. So we have Costco/Target/Walmart selling dog crap frames and meh lenses with fair-to-middlin' staff in awful environments. This will be the standard for non-internet buying, for the most part. S=meh, but not internet low. Q= low. P= good. Bullish.


    So, where is the golden age?
    We will have less and less swanky mall and optical-dedicated freestandings, if you ask me. You would have to sell high quality materials with great service and a high price. And I just don't think a big corporation can staff these stores with good people. They just can't make a value proposition.

    I don't think we're going to see mom and pop optical boutiques growing like weeds due to a mass increase in market share. But I do see the growth of a segment I'll call "optical boutique" asserting itself. One that is creative, clever, caring, high-touch, unique, expert, experience-oriented, and ultimately relatively expensive. Value proposition: S=high, Q=high, P=expensive.

    I think this is the way forward.
    Last edited by drk; 05-30-2020 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've been thinking about this a lot recently too. The independent opticians have the best ability to adapt to the rapidly changing market. I agree with you. Many will fall away, as they have been doing in recent years, but the best will prosper.

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    Very well thought out post. I agree almost right down to the letter.

  4. #4
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    OK, great.

    Now, brothers and sisters, what are we going to do about it?

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    ok, hear me out. There are a lot of assumptions about to be laid out.

    The fundamental value proposition rule, here, is that there are 1. Service 2. Quality, and 3. Price. Choose two. (i'll refer to this as "value proposition".)

    1. Mall (optical) shopping is going to plummet to next to nothing... yes

    2. Internet shopping is very, very likely to propel online glasses buying into the stratosphere. This is not going to be a good option for most opticals. No, diagree. While it will propel online eyewear, those opticals that have opticians do skilled opticianry will thrive on a la carte.

    3. There are freestanding chain-type opticals. I can see these proliferating because i think that's how "bricks and mortar" buying is going to be conducted. maybe. If brick and mortar optical has skilled opticians playing the long game, the payoff will be big.

    4. Buying club-type opticals and target/walmart. I would call these discount opticals are now and will continue to be best value in retail b&m optical.

    so, where is the golden age?
    We will have less and less swanky mall and optical-dedicated freestandings, if you ask me. You would have to sell high quality materials with great service and a high price. And i just don't think a big corporation can staff these stores with good people. They just can't make a value proposition. correct. But that’s because skilled opticians actually gave up their place at the optical dining table.

    i don't think we're going to see mom and pop optical boutiques growing like weeds due to a mass increase in market share. But i do see the growth of a segment i'll call "optical boutique" asserting itself. One that is creative, clever, caring, high-touch, unique, expert, experience-oriented, and ultimately relatively expensive. Value proposition: S=high, q=high, p=expensive. yes.

    i think this is the way forward.
    ​b

  6. #6
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Great Santini:
    How can a skilled optican help on the back end of a DIY transaction?

    if you mean use it as a loss-leader to capture clientele, I'm not against that.

    Assuming that enough DIY'ers are interested in real opticianry. Maybe they're just needing an edumacation. Certainly the "online fails" should see the light.

    Should dealing with online fails be a brick in the foundation of a golden age optical?

  7. #7
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Great Santini:
    How can a skilled optican help on the back end of a DIY transaction? Consumers will seek out their help

    if you mean use it as a loss-leader to capture clientele, I'm not against that. No loss leaders, except the time spent to determine what’s wrong.

    Assuming that enough DIY'ers are interested in real opticianry. Maybe they're just needing an edumacation. Certainly the "online fails" should see the light. Yep.

    Should dealing with online fails be a brick in the foundation of a golden age optical?
    Absolutely!

  8. #8
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    OK, so you're advocating a "free evaluation" of sorts: "If your online glasses are a loser, we can
    a.) tell you why?
    b.) feel your pain?
    c.) offer you alternatives?
    d.) go to bat for you with your online optical?
    e.) fix the mistake?

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    Regarding the above, I have a short story from last week...

    Guy comes in after 'Moving back to town' with two pair of JUNK glasses. Both obviously BRAND NEW. One flat top clear with AR and one Ray-Ban aviator-ish thing with polar PAL. Tells me he'd like me to 'Fix them'. When I asked what the problem was he said he can't see out of either and they won't stay on his head. He's NOT an easy guy to fit under the best of circumstances and both pair are horrendous... I explained to him my opinion of how bad they were and told him there wasn't anything I thought I could do. He flexed a little and explained that he has probably purchased 30 pair of glasses here over the years (bs, I'd recognize him) and that we've ALWAYS fixed them. I was in a cranky mood and explained such and asked him if these new glasses were purchased online. He confirmed they were. I paused, and as politely as possible explained that if he had purchased those here I would have seen to it that he got quality frames and lenses that were fit properly and that what he brought in were HORRIBLE. I continued to explain that there's truly nothing that I can do to either pair of glasses to make them work. I also explained that I just plain didn't want to mess with them as I felt the risk of breaking them was good and even under the very, very best of circumstances neither was going to fit or work properly. He thanked me for my honestly and went on his way... Said he'd be back later to purchase new here. I seriously doubt it but we'll see...
    Last edited by Quig; 06-01-2020 at 03:42 PM.

  10. #10
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Interesting.

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    dead on

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Great Santini:
    How can a skilled optican help on the back end of a DIY transaction?

    if you mean use it as a loss-leader to capture clientele, I'm not against that.

    Assuming that enough DIY'ers are interested in real opticianry. Maybe they're just needing an edumacation. Certainly the "online fails" should see the light.

    Should dealing with online fails be a brick in the foundation of a golden age optical?
    W*rby gives up to $50 reimbursement for professional fees for fittings and adjustments. I like the idea it's possible for me to make more on one of their pairs of eyeglasses than they do. At the same time I try to subtly point out some of the deficiencies in the pair I'm adjusting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefe View Post
    W*rby gives up to $50 reimbursement for professional fees for fittings and adjustments. I like the idea it's possible for me to make more on one of their pairs of eyeglasses than they do. At the same time I try to subtly point out some of the deficiencies in the pair I'm adjusting.
    First, I didn't know about any $50 fee for fittings and adjustments... will have to look into it for the exact reason you just stated.

    Second, another story related to your comment! Gawd, I'm full of stories...

    So, a new customer calls the recently... asks if I'll put lenses in a frame for him. I say of course, that's what I do. He arrives and he's a very fun older gentleman who has kind of a quirky fun personality and he has purchased a round, funky, hipster-ish frame from Warby Parker because he wants something kinda fun that "matches his personality".... Ok, fair enough. The frame is awful. Terribly quality, and I politely explain such but assure him I'll be as careful as possible with it. He purchases a set of transitions flat tops with a high end AR. Spends a good chunk of money putting lenses in this awful frame. A week after picking up the glasses he's back and they're broken. I explain that I'm not surprised and show him a couple frames I have here that are similar and explain that if he'd like, I'll re-make the lenses for free (used a seg change) if he'd like to purchase a frame. He's beyond delighted with the offer, purchases a very nice frame and is back a few days later to pick up a QUALITY pair of glasses and couldn't be happier. He's already been back for a repair on his wife's Silhouette and I know I have new customers for life...

  14. #14
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    Lemonade tastes sweet my brotha!!!!

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quig View Post
    First, I didn't know about any $50 fee for fittings and adjustments... will have to look into it for the exact reason you just stated.

    Second, another story related to your comment! Gawd, I'm full of stories...

    So, a new customer calls the recently... asks if I'll put lenses in a frame for him. I say of course, that's what I do. He arrives and he's a very fun older gentleman who has kind of a quirky fun personality and he has purchased a round, funky, hipster-ish frame from Warby Parker because he wants something kinda fun that "matches his personality".... Ok, fair enough. The frame is awful. Terribly quality, and I politely explain such but assure him I'll be as careful as possible with it. He purchases a set of transitions flat tops with a high end AR. Spends a good chunk of money putting lenses in this awful frame. A week after picking up the glasses he's back and they're broken. I explain that I'm not surprised and show him a couple frames I have here that are similar and explain that if he'd like, I'll re-make the lenses for free (used a seg change) if he'd like to purchase a frame. He's beyond delighted with the offer, purchases a very nice frame and is back a few days later to pick up a QUALITY pair of glasses and couldn't be happier. He's already been back for a repair on his wife's Silhouette and I know I have new customers for life...

    Good for you.

    My experience with people who buy stuff from that company sometimes realize the stuff they bought isn't as great a value as they thought. I've had a few people buy something from me after expressing dissatisfaction with the WB or other companies' stuff. For the record, I'm not of fan of the quality of the WB frames.

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    Ok... so not glasses, but similar situation. I went to a local chain furniture store in search of a new kitchen table and chairs. Got what I though was a decent set for $550. I knew it wasn't anything spectacular, but the price was right. Well, I had problems with it from day one. One chair broke immediately. Finish on table top wasn't what expected. Treated like crap from the company. Fast forward a couple years and now we want a new dining room set. This time, I don't go to the chain store down the street. I drive to Lancaster county to a small Mennonite store and find a nice Amish made cherry dining set. Table, leaf and 4 chairs for $800 and free delivery. They were polite and wonderful. I have now furnished my living room and 2 bedrooms from that store. I kept the crappy kitchen set so that my kid can do her art projects on it and not care. When she is a bit older, I will replace the chain store set with on from my Mennonite friends. Just saying a little more in price is worth the quality. I was taught a valuable lesson.

  17. #17
    What's up? drk's Avatar
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    I have a similar story.

    I wear dress shoes at work, but I like the ones that have soft soles, so they wear out often. I typically spend the extra and buy Rockports with their Vibram soles that are durable and soft, but this one time I was in a big box and they had some good looking Dr. Scholles with the soft soles for about 1/3 of the price. So I thought...why not? I tried them on for fit and bought them.

    But when I started wearing them, I swear the soles of these cheaper (but good-looking) shoes were made of flubber. They were so flexible and rubbery that it was like walking around with two mousepads rubber-banded to my feet.

    So...back to Rockports. Lesson learned.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quig View Post
    First, I didn't know about any $50 fee for fittings and adjustments... will have to look into it for the exact reason you just stated.

    Second, another story related to your comment! Gawd, I'm full of stories...

    So, a new customer calls the recently... asks if I'll put lenses in a frame for him. I say of course, that's what I do. He arrives and he's a very fun older gentleman who has kind of a quirky fun personality and he has purchased a round, funky, hipster-ish frame from Warby Parker because he wants something kinda fun that "matches his personality".... Ok, fair enough. The frame is awful. Terribly quality, and I politely explain such but assure him I'll be as careful as possible with it. He purchases a set of transitions flat tops with a high end AR. Spends a good chunk of money putting lenses in this awful frame. A week after picking up the glasses he's back and they're broken. I explain that I'm not surprised and show him a couple frames I have here that are similar and explain that if he'd like, I'll re-make the lenses for free (used a seg change) if he'd like to purchase a frame. He's beyond delighted with the offer, purchases a very nice frame and is back a few days later to pick up a QUALITY pair of glasses and couldn't be happier. He's already been back for a repair on his wife's Silhouette and I know I have new customers for life...
    It's great that you converted a customer. Why should the lab eat the cost of your customers bad decisions though? Why not remake the lenses for free and eat the cost because you are so confident in your abilities that the customer will love the glasses they will be a customer for life.

  19. #19
    Master OptiBoarder optical24/7's Avatar
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    I’ve heard many say that insurance is what’s driven up the cost of optical goods. To a certain extent, I’d agree. But the one factor that has most driven costs up are warranties. It started in the 70’s. 1st, with import frames. (Lux, #1). Free exchange, warranty for a year on most anything. Prior, we bought from wholesale labs or smallish vendors. Defect, real defect was the only way to get “free” replacement. (And you had to fight for that most times).

    It carried on, and expanded to labs. One of the 1st was “RLX” scratch coatings on CR39. To market it, they offered *free* replacement for scratches. (BIG industry changer, made plastic lens more marketable.) Then Varilux came out (and Varilux II) with the guarantee of adaptation. If not, *free* remake into bi or tri or sv.

    Fast forward, Opticianry skill sets started tanking, and the industry needed a bailout. Small labs found an opening by offering *free* remakes for Dr errors, seg hgt errors, ect. Frame companies also started to compete with the liberal exchange/warranty policies. As these policies started getting steam, you “had” to offer liberal warranties, as a wholesaler, to compete...

    Today, it’s at the point, I’ve got a major lab network that wants me to convert all my lens work to them. Their selling point...*Free* remake, for a year, for ANY reason....Wow...

    These warranties aren’t free. We, the retailers, and ultimately, the consumer pays for these. To me, one solution to getting the costs down would be for wholesalers to offer, and reduce the price for no warranty, other than defect. But here’s the catch....The consumer has been brainwashed that they got a *free* warranty with their purchase! We, our industry fostered and promoted that. So, we (retailers) just about have to offer them to compete. So now, whom eats those costs?...Lab? Retailer?

    For a retailer to eat the costs, they either have to raise their price (and getting less competitive than the place down the street), or, be able to buy at a reduced cost (no warranty).

    But just try to get a wholesaler to agree on a substantial discount if you bought un warranted. (I’ve tried, lots). The best offer I’ve gotten was 25%, when I was already getting 20%...

    So, I don’t blame anyone for taking advantage of their *warranty*. Heck, you’re paying for it anyway.....

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwill212 View Post
    It's great that you converted a customer. Why should the lab eat the cost of your customers bad decisions though? Why not remake the lenses for free and eat the cost because you are so confident in your abilities that the customer will love the glasses they will be a customer for life.
    Because I'm not eating the cost. Period.

    I guarantee if I told the lab the 'reason' for the seg change they would have cheered me on...

    And, 'confident in my abilities'? WTF does that have to do with anything? Go troll someone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quig View Post
    Because I'm not eating the cost. Period.

    I guarantee if I told the lab the 'reason' for the seg change they would have cheered me on...

    And, 'confident in my abilities'? WTF does that have to do with anything? Go troll someone else.
    If you lab would have cheered you on, why wouldn't you just be honest with your lab?

    I am absolutely not trolling anyone, take a breath. Obviously you were confident you could convert this customer because you can make them better glasses than they had, probably far better.(This was a compliment) So, why should the lab eat the cost of you standing to make more money? I can't understand the thought process of "Because I'm not eating the cost. Period." but you will happily have someone else(the lab, or the patient) eat the cost for your benefit???

    24/7 has laid it out quite nicely and I agree with most of what he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwill212 View Post
    If you lab would have cheered you on, why wouldn't you just be honest with your lab?

    I am absolutely not trolling anyone, take a breath. Obviously you were confident you could convert this customer because you can make them better glasses than they had, probably far better.(This was a compliment) So, why should the lab eat the cost of you standing to make more money? I can't understand the thought process of "Because I'm not eating the cost. Period." but you will happily have someone else(the lab, or the patient) eat the cost for your benefit???

    24/7 has laid it out quite nicely and I agree with most of what he said.
    I was honest, the seg height changed.

    I get it, you're not happy with what I did. That's fine but I don't care and will not waste anymore of my time explaining it to you.

  23. #23
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    I try to make better glasses all the time.

    But I always deliver a better Total Eyewear Experience.

    Lots of discussion—all the time—about the eyewear product. If you keep thinking this way, you’ve already lost the war with online.

    And instead of racing to play online, I say always think how you can make online compete with your store.

    That’s my elevator speech about selling online.

    B

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    I try to make better glasses all the time.

    But I always deliver a better Total Eyewear Experience.

    Lots of discussion—all the time—about the eyewear product. If you keep thinking this way, you’ve already lost the war with online.

    And instead of racing to play online, I say always think how you can make online compete with your store.

    That’s my elevator speech about selling online.

    B

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    Quote Originally Posted by mervinek View Post
    +1
    Echo that.

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