Article Date: 3/1/2012

Maximize Frame Sales
optical

Maximize Frame Sales

Through the right lighting, color, displays, space and flooring, you can increase sales.

Cy Furman, San Francisco, Calif.

Recently, a young optometrist contacted my optical design company requesting a dispensary remodel on a strip mall practice she’d recently bought. Upon viewing the dispensary, I felt as if I’d travelled back to the 1960s: The lighting was cool white deluxe, the reception area had a rock wall and front, the remaining walls were a cream color, the cabinets and displays were a gold rounded laminate, and the flooring was worn, tan carpeting. Amid this Mad Men-era disaster was her 2012 frame merchandise. This optometrist practiced in an affluent Asian area, where its primarily young residents placed a high premium on current style. Although she carried the right merchandise, her dispensary’s appearance was overshadowing it.

While this is an extreme case, it reveals an important truth: One’s frame inventory is only as good as the environment in which it’s displayed. Something else to keep in mind: Working in the right environment gives both the owner and staff pride, and that pride is projected on patients, which makes them more likely to buy.

Here, I discuss the importance of lighting, color, displays, spacing and flooring in maximizing your frame sales.

Seeing “red”

The right lighting is essential to increasing frame sales and retaining patients for future sales. If the dispensary lighting doesn’t contain any “red,” which makes it closest to actual sun, or natural, light, the frame color can appear different than its actual color (a red frame can look orange under “cool white” lighting, for instance), and the patient may enter the dispensary looking like a “winter” person rather than a “fall” person. This is because “cool white” fluorescent, or incandescent, lighting burns at 4100K. Imagine heating up steel. At first, the steel gets red, then yellow/orange, then blue, then it gets “white hot.” This is what happens with fluorescent lighting. The hotter it burns, the less redness and yellow/orange is left. Therefore, the two aforementioned scenarios (e.g. frame coloring and the wrong season) can adversely affect the frame-selection process. This, in turn, can result in the patient either choosing to peruse frames elsewhere or purchasing a frame with which he becomes dissatisfied upon seeing himself outside the dispensary. In either case, there’s a very good chance that patient won’t be returning to or referring friends or family to your dispensary.

LED lighting provides this crucial “red” light. I’ve found that the ideal merchandise lighting temperature is between 3500K and 3800K. Although this lighting costs significantly more than “cool white” fluorescent, or incandescent, lighting, the extra investment is worth it in terms of both energy savings and longevity. For example, if you replaced a common 20PAR50 (50 watt) lamp that costs between $8.50 and $10 with a 20PAR9 (9 watt) LED for a cost of $50, that LED has a lifespan of 50,000 hours vs. approximately 2,000 hours with the 50 watt. And, again, you’re providing the most natural light, which facilitates frame selection and promotes sales and patient satisfaction.

Color connotations

All colors have psychological connotations. For example, dark medium blue connotes sincerity, while light medium blue signifies calmness. Also, strong medium orange connotes intensity, and light medium brown signifies maturity. Because every color and color combination creates both a psychological and emotional response, it’s imperative you do your research on the message you want to send patients regarding your dispensary.

It’s all too easy to send the wrong message. For instance, if your practice is located in a retail strip center or mall, it’s a mistake to use bright colors, such as red or yellow. The reason: These colors signify a sense of moving quickly (in and out), as in a fast food restaurant. You want to attract attention to your merchandise with the right use of contrasting colors, while also promoting an atmosphere of relaxation, personal care and quality.

As each dispensary location, size and owner is different, it’s important you consult with a professional on the best color choices for your particular practice and/or dispensary.

Merchandising statements

In optical dispensing, quality, not quantity, enables one to maximize their sales. Merchandising overcrowding and redundancy of product makes your frame selection appear all the same to patients.

But by reducing your quantity of frames, providing “breathing space” between displays, using high-quality LED lighting from the outside — the way jewelers do (rear-lit displays provide diffused lighting, making all frames look alike) — and creating merchandising statements, or individual statements, regarding frame style, brand etc., you enable the patient to see you offer an array of options, and you give him a reason to buy from you.

Within the merchandising statement is the frame, some related graphics and an accessory display that helps project the lifestyle of the patient who chooses the frame or frames. For instance, let’s say you want to sell horn-rimmed men’s frames. As this eyewear is associated with business, you might want to show a graphic of a man in a custom suit. In terms of an accessory display, gold cufflinks or a silver Cross pen would work here.

It’s important to remember that eyewear doesn’t sell itself. A lot of people still don’t understand that. You can put all kinds of eyewear out, but you have to have some statements to create visual impact. Otherwise, you experience visual redundancy.

BEFORE

Although this dispensary featured modern merchandise and technology, its 1960’s-era environment overshadowed these modern offerings.

I had a client who always thought he needed to show a zillion frames. Finally, he reduced his inventory, and doing so not only paid for new frame displays, but it also increased his sales.

As a brief yet related aside, it seems men are more prone to buying the look they see in a display because they see “how it should be used,” whereas women tend to compare products and prices and “shop it out.”

Visual input required

I’ve found that roughly 90% of decision-making is dependant on visual input. Therefore, to help you achieve a sale, it’s imperative you provide mirrors that the patient can immediately access to see themselves in the frame(s). Have you ever been to a department store and unable to find a mirror? It’s a frustrating experience that makes you want to go elsewhere.

To facilitate the crucial visual input step, virtual styling systems are available. These devices, operated by your optician, acquire photos/videos of the patient wearing the frame(s), allowing him to clearly see himself and even e-mail these images to family and friends for their opinions. (See “Is a Dispensing Device Worth Your Dollars?” page 24.)

AFTER

The instillation of modern hanging LED lights, specific contrasting wall colors, mahogany-colored intersection display cases and cabinetry, the floating eye bar and wood flooring now matches the modern merchandise and technology this dispensary offers.

“Floor” your patients

The right flooring is contingent on the room and style of your dispensary. Carpet is a natural sound insulator, whereas hard flooring bounces sound. If the dispensary’s ceiling is acoustical, which helps to muffle sound, hard flooring tends to be a good choice.

I had a client who was determined his dispensary have the “Soho look,” which is a wide-open hard ceiling with hard flooring and furniture without cushions and fabric (the latter of which also insulates sound). Although the dispensary captured this look, the end result was a very loud and echoic environment, which distracted from his frame merchandise and his interactions with customers. Imagine trying to explain the benefits of a polarized sunglass, only to clearly hear a couple customers discussing whether polarization is really necessary.

In terms of floor color, too light of a color has been shown to make customers want to leave too soon, whereas dark flooring not only absorbs light, but it makes the dispensary appear small. As is the case with wall colors, it’s important you consult with a professional, as each dispensary location, size and owner is different.

Finally, the flooring you choose must match with the style of your dispensary, as it ties everything together. You want to achieve a harmonious and inviting feeling.

That remodel

We replaced that 1960’s-era dispensary’s lighting with modern hanging LED lights, and we painted the walls a combination medium light blue and beige-color (which signifies warmth and calm). Also, we replaced those gold, rounded-laminate displays and cabinets with hard-edged mahogany-colored intersection display cases and cabinetry, and we upgraded the reception counter with a “floating eye bar,” which is a long dispensing counter that provides several stations for styling and rests on six legs. As for that rock background behind the reception counter, we decided to keep it, as it’s a character detail that works well with the strip mall retail image. Finally, we kicked that old tan carpeting to the curb and put in a commercial-grade laminated wood flooring in colors that contrast perfectly with the new colors of the cabinetry and displays.

After we completed the remodel, the optometrist said she was “completely amazed” at how her merchandise now “jumped out” and “begged to be seen.” This client said she was “extremely happy” with the end result. Through a short time, she will no doubt realize a return on her remodel investment through more foot traffic and a resurgence of enthusiasm by herself and her staff. OM

Mr. Furman has been president and director of design at Magic Design (www.optical-design.com), a San Francisco, California-based design and consultation company for the optical industry, since 1983. E-mail him at cy@optical-design.com, or send comments to optometricmanagement@gmail.com.


Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: March 2012, page(s): 38 - 42