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Webrooming and Your Optical Dispensary

Tom Doyle
by Tom Doyle on August 28, 2018 at 8:20 AM
5 reasons to re-think your online strategy and build a Frame Gallery

Consumers have moved much of their shopping activity online. In fact, most purchases start with an online search, even when the purchase itself is made in-store. 

Webrooming, or browsing online before buying in-store, has become a pretty common consumer behavior. It's no surprise that people are using the web to research products, but still want the ability to see the real thing in person in-store. 

In the case of optical retail, this translates to the desire to try the actual frame on before  patients pull out their wallets.Patients want to browse online but try on in store.

For a great overview of webrooming and how brick-and-mortar retailers can use it to their advantage, check out this article from Shopify. 

While the author is writing about general retail, and not specifically optical retail, the insights into consumer behavior and the advice for retailers are relevant. 

Also take a look at this excellent article,"4 Ways to Promote Your Online Optical Online & Deliver in-Person" by Tanya N. Gill, OD writing for Review of Optometric Business .

To underscore this point, Dr. Gill begins her article as follows: 

When patients need new eyewear, the first impulse is to search online. When it comes time to make a purchase, however, they hopefully will arrive at your office. 

If you haven't started already, it's time to consider how these changes in consumer behavior are affecting your optical retail, and as discussed in the Shopify article, how to capitalize on them!

Luckily, Frames Data has a solution that can help you quickly ramp up your online game and actually take advantage of webrooming.  

Display eyewear online and sell in-store.

It's called My Frame Gallery, and it lets you add a virtual frame board to your website that has your branding and even the actual frames you carry. Since it uses Frames Data's massive catalog of eyewear data and imagery, your Gallery can reflect what you carry in-store.

With My Frame Gallery, you can easily produce an online experience that:

  • fulfills patient expectations for online browsing
  • encourages engagement with patients outside of the office
  • entices them to come to your retail to try-on frames in person, where they can experience the excellent service and personal support offered by a brick-and-mortar location.

If you haven't considered building your own Gallery, here are five reasons why the time might be right.

"Our online frame gallery is a success!"  Request a demo for your practice today.

1. Patient Expectations

Your patients are seeing retailers of all stripes offer an online experience that complements the in-store experience.  In other words, they can see the same products in-store as on the retailers website.  They can search online first and complete their sale in store. 

In short, consumers are beginning to expect retail operations (including yours!) will have an online experience that mirrors the in-store experience.

2. Competition

You have to be in it to win it, and other practices, large and small, are certainly in it. 

From retailers that are exclusively online (several of which have spent big bucks on advertising) to large traditional optical retailers, website browsing and ordering capabilities are catching on.

Luckily, you no longer need to have the resources of a full marketing department and a huge budget to have an online catalog-style website.  My Frame Gallery is built to be flexible, robust, and best of all, affordable for smaller practices.

3. Efficiency

Giving patients the ability to find frames on their own time, before they get to their appointment, means they have a headstart on making the actual selection.

And coming this fall in the next update of My Frame Gallery, the new interactive Wish List will give your staff the ability to pull frame selections prior to the appointment.  They'll give you an idea of what they're interested in without having even stepped into the store.

Not only is this great for efficiency, it's a great customer experience.

Read more about My Frame Gallery, including marketing tips, set-up instructions and more.

4. Technology

Technology has progressed to where it's easy and cost-effective to have a selection of eyewear to view online.  Online forms and automation can help engage with patients outside the practice (as will My Frame Gallery's Wish List feature, coming soon).

Keep in mind, you don't have to build a full e-commerce operation (which would include a lot of logistics that you may not be prepared to manage) to be ahead of the curve —and because patients want to try before they buy, you probably don't need to.  

That leads me to the most important reason of all...

5. Opportunity

Play to your strengths!  The value that you and your staff bring to the table is the "personal touch" experience your patients receive, and the expertise your staff provides throughout the exam, frame selection, and fitting process. Tom_landing_page_v2-PURPLE

Online product browsing is merely a tool to augment and enhance your in-person services that patients can get nowhere else!

You can distinguish your business as a forward-looking practice that has embraced popular technology.  Build a website that is a pleasure to use, and provide the shopping content (a gallery of your frame selection) that will bring people back to your site, and into your store to try-on and purchase.

Ready to take the next step?  Here are ways to get started:

  • Request information
  • Request a demo
  • Order now (existing Frames Data subscribers should call in to add My Frame Gallery to your existing account)
  • Call us (for single location practices) at 1-800-821-6069 ext 3.
  • Call us (multiple location practices) at 1-800-821-6069 ext 4.

"Our online frame gallery is a success!"  Request a demo for your practice today.

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Tom Doyle
Written by Tom Doyle
Tom Doyle is Frames Data’s Director of Marketing & Key Accounts, and has been working as a marketer within the optical industry for over 10 years. In that time he’s worked with many software companies on new integrations, and has developed an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Tom is also keenly interested in productivity methodology, the color orange used in marketing, and karaoke. He is also a die-hard cat person.
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