What traits do successful merchandisers share?
GINA M. WESLEY O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.
If you’ve got it, you’ve got it — right? There are people who seem to have a magic touch when it comes to marketing and merchandising. Haven’t you ever talked to an O.D. peer who has told you how he changed around his optical displays “just a bit” and BAM, improved his optical sales by $1,000 in just one day? Or, have you ever heard of that peer who seems to always sell out of his/her contact lens inventory when yours has been stagnant for the last three months?
What secrets do these merchandisers hold? They may not have all the answers, but they do probably share the following traits, which have led to their success.
They understand merchandising is dynamic. Do your displays of optical goods, contact lenses and other ophthalmic products look the same as they did several years ago? Or even just one year ago? Successful merchandisers re-organize, re-display and mix it up to keep product looking fresh. This can be as simple as moving a display case just a few feet.
I had a friend who couldn’t understand why his high-end designer frames weren’t selling. When he evaluated traffic patterns, he realized the display case was right in the entrance “decompression” zone. He simply moved that case a few feet over for easier browsing, and started selling those frames almost immediately.
Rule of thumb: If a patient can remember how the office looked one year ago and doesn’t notice anything different the following year, you need to re-merchandise.
Successful merchandisers analyze. You really won’t know how effective particular merchandising tactics are unless you analyze the numbers. For instance, how many more patients opted for private-pay testing when you started giving each patient informational handouts before the exam? How many more boxes of artificial tears did you sell when you moved the display right next to the checkout counter? Did patients buy contact lenses in inventory for immediate dispensing once your display was showcased?
Talking Tech With Patients, Part 2 • page 46
How to Merchandise to Job Seekers • page 38
Use Touch Points • page 52
You can bet the best merchandisers change it up when they realize their strategy isn’t working.
They diversify. Have you ever looked at the typical “wall of frames” and just felt “blah?” So have your patients. Great merchandisers diversify their displays to showcase layers, textures and highlight various products. Essentially, they want to spark some interest. Often, one can learn from their favorite stores how to effectively merchandise. Pay attention to what grabs your attention. Make your optical interesting, and your patients will respond.
Successful merchandisers keep learning. Merchandising strategies change because of technology, buying trends, seasonal colors and on and on. The best merchandisers realize this and make it top priority to educate themselves. Read articles and trade magazines, and attend conferences’ exhibit halls to gain ideas. Simple strategies can make an average merchandiser into a great one. OM
DR. WESLEY PRACTICES AT COMPLETE EYE CARE OF MEDINA, WHICH SHE OPENED IN 2008. SHE WAS HONORED AS MINNESOTA’S OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR IN 2011. E-MAIL DRWESLEY@CECOFMEDINA.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.
Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: September 2013, page(s): 46