Expanding My Dispensary Online

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO April 27, 2012

Today’s post is guest-authored by Robert L. Bass, OD, FAAO, who practices in Manassas, Virginia. Dr. Bass is Vice- President of the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Optometric Association, a fellow of the Virginia Academy of Optometry, and served 10 years on the VSP Board of Directors. He is also a Melvin Jones Fellow in the Manassas Host Lions Club.

Present-day optometry is not the kind of optometry that I experienced in my practice 30+ years ago. There were no computers, no optical chains in my neighborhood, and the Internet was unheard of. Today, 78% of adults in America use the Internet and 71% of those have gone online to research and purchase a product. Experts estimate that digital information already influences about 50% of store sales, with that number rapidly growing.

So, it should have come as no surprise to me when a patient requested her PD and it wasn’t for work safety glasses…it was to order her new glasses online! A quick search on Google for “buy prescription eyeglasses” gave me 4.5 million results.

Like many practices, I figured my website was just a place for patients to find me online so they could call and make an appointment. However, I’ve come to realize patients are looking for convenience and a dynamic, real-time interaction—not just an online billboard.

Since Internet optical retailing has exploded in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down, I decided to treat it as a business opportunity—a new way to increase capture rates and incremental sales. I also discovered it wasn’t cost prohibitive, especially since I already had an eWebExtra site through Eyefinity. They had just introduced eStores, a solution that was perfect for my practice.

By opening my eStore, I instantly increased the size of my dispensary. I market my eStore in my office. My patients tell me the virtual try-on is really cool and I can sell them eyewear online anytime of day right from MY store.

Setting up my eStore for frames, sunglasses and contacts was easy. Product brands were presented on the screen and all I had to do was check boxes indicating which products I want to offer. Setting my own pricing was equally simple.

Sure, not every customer is going online to buy eyewear. But I need to incorporate today’s solutions in order for my practice to be relevant tomorrow.

Some of my colleagues are concerned that by sending their patients online, their patients might be diverted elsewhere. As I see it, if your patients don’t find you online, they’ll definitely shop elsewhere.

Click over to Eyeconic on VSPOnline and select eStores by Eyeconic to learn more.

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