Competing against online discount retailers is tough, but there are many things you can do to capture more sales and leave your patients satisfied, even if they considered an online order first.
Build an Online Presence
The first thing you should ensure is that patients can find your practice online. This means a website with location information and listing your business on Google at a minimum. There are more ways to be found online, such as a Facebook business page or an Instagram account.
If you can’t be found easily online, then you aren’t meeting patients where they are. 88% of local business searches result in either a call or visit within 24 hours, and 72% of local business searches end up visiting stores within 5 miles.
Setting up your Google business page is the best first step to increasing your online presence if you have not done so.
Dealing with the Upsell Game
When discount retailers run national broadcast advertising promoting two pairs of glasses for $80, it can feel impossible to compete on price, but you shouldn't. Even with these discounts, it’s about upsells. Often, these deals lead customers to sites or big chains when the goal is to upsell them into a higher cost pair of glasses with more than just the most basic features.
This is a game you can play too, but lead with the value. Educate patients on the health benefits and value of extra features, better lens materials, and specialized lenses.
What Patients Want
The Vision Council studied what features patients most desire in their eyewear. The results showed thin and lightweight, and scratch resistance won out. These aren’t features you can cram onto a cheap pair of lenses without increasing the price or greatly sacrificing the quality.
When upselling, focus on the difference in material weight and treatments to show patients the features they are looking for.
The ECP Experience
Being a private practice is your greatest weapon against online retailers. Many patients don’t realize what all goes into the full experience of visiting your practice.
The entire practice experience includes:
- Selection of materials
- Verification of prescription
- Examination — both prescription and health factors
Educate patients on the importance of the entire experience and how each of these elements creates the best eye care solution.
Put Your Expertise Front and Center
Many ECP web sites only list the education of the doctors. While this is vitally important, make it a goal to list licenses, certifications, and special courses completed by all staff members. Let those searching your website know how well prepared the entire staff is to provide a customized vision solution.
The Regular Exam
A visit to your practice is a vital part of each patient’s preventative health plan, yet many don’t treat it as such. Finding ways to combat this are a big part of competing with online retailers. Getting the patients into your practice for an examination is half the battle.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and talk to your patients about the importance of regular eye exams. A dentist wouldn’t let their patients leave without knowing the importance of bi-annual teeth cleanings and exams. Think of it the same way in your practice, after all, we have over 30 teeth and only two eyes.
5 Additional Strategies to Compete Against Online Retailers
1. Create a Glasses Plan
We often have a different pair of shoes for business, running, fashion, and, if you live in Texas, a pair of cowboy boots. A single pair of eyewear isn’t enough today. Specialized lenses serve important health benefits for each patient. Creating a glasses plan allows you to have a multiple pair conversation with patients from the start, leading to more sales without sticker shock.
2. Exam Chair Education
Patients that come into your office for an exam but wish to order their lenses online offer a great opportunity to convert to in-practice sales, yet there are a lot of nuances. Don’t be too aggressive, but take the time to educate your patients during an exam.3. Premium Products + Health Benefits
Offering the best products means offering the best solution to your patients’ eye care needs. Between a premium lens and your expertise guiding patients to the right solution, they’ll find much more satisfaction from visiting your practice than navigating lens features online.
4. Fitting Validation
Offer patients who tend to shop online a fitting and validation for any eyewear. Set a profitable but reasonable price for them to bring in their frames, have them fitted and validate that their prescription is correct. An AOA study found that nearly half of online orders had incorrect prescriptions or safety issues.
Providing this service to patients will speak for itself.
Go and Compete
These strategies will help you bring more patients into your practice while selling them on your products, expertise, and practice experience.