The Game

We’re all in this game with online retailers and other large companies or conglomerates. Sometimes thinking about it is overwhelming and discouraging. People will come at you with price comparisons on either side. Independent eyewear companies, opticians, online retailers and big box companies are all doing a dance together trying to figure out who is the lead. Sometimes thinking about it is overwhelming and discouraging.

Clients will come at you with price comparisons on either side. Whether you’re a rep going into an office wondering if they get free frames with their purchase (like the big box companies offer them) or it might be a patient that comes into an office that wants a price match for something that they found online. On both sides of the fence we are dealing with obstacles when it comes to sales. Sometimes it feels like it’s opticians and independent eyewear reps against these bigger conglomerate groups

A conglomerate is a large corporation usually grown by smaller companies being bought out or overtaken behind the scenes, while maintaining their original name. In a conglomerate culture there is typically one company calling the shots for all the other organizations within it.

I was at Vision Expo one time and literally had a marketer for another big box company tell me that they were trying to put people like us “independent eyewear companies “ out of business… I’m so proud of myself that I reacted the way I did, and didn’t lower myself to their level. I know we all want to be able to help everyone but that’s not how it works. People will always have the option to go somewhere else. That’s why you just have to find what sets you apart to keep your people coming back. Figure out who your people are!

Patients and customers might ask, “Why do you charge so much for this frame when I could get it online for a third of the cost?“ That’s a moment for you to step back and realize that if they want to go elsewhere to get eyewear they are more than welcome to. I’ll never forget when I was in Vegas and a bottle of water was seven dollars and I could have gone down the street to Walgreens and got it for $1.50, but because of the convenience, I paid seven dollars at the bar for a bottle of water.. That’s quite the markup for water. They can charge seven dollars for it though, because people fork out the cash when it’s convenient. I will say, obviously not everyone would act this way or even have the luxury to do so. Don’t assume that everyone is going to be able to afford what you have to offer.

We all have choices in life. No one is forcing anyone to buy their eyewear anywhere in particular, but I know from personal experience as an optician that the relationships that I built with my patients was what made it worth it for them to come back and get the quality service that I offered. I personally am the type of person that does not like to order online because the hassle of returning things isn’t worth it for me. I will pay a little bit extra, even if it is, going to take time out of my day to go to a store. I like to touch and feel what I am spending my money on & I enjoy creating experiences for my life instead of doing it all virtually and sitting at home. I believe there is value in that, so create an experience for your clientele that will keep them engaged.

When the pandemic hit a lot of things changed, and people became more familiar with shopping online. That gave these big box companies with online platforms that advantage that they have today. They have grown into something more well-known. I think it was inevitable with the way our world being all digital now, but it happened quicker because of the pandemic. Those companies are not going anywhere, they compete with each other so we will see who sticks around for the long-haul. Either way, instead of worrying about how to compete with them, find your niche. Know who your target market is and expand upon that. Learn digital marketing for yourself and utilize the platforms within reach. Like everything in life, if you think about the downside or the negative it will hold you back from what is truly possible. Don’t let anyone’s success keep you from achieving your own, we’re all in this together!

Jesse Anderson, ABOCArticle written by Jesse Anderson, ABOC, field sales rep for Catch London

Find her here: Instagram | LinkedIn


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