Increasing practice revenue with effective retail design

A good retail design strategy is a fundamental component for independent opticians and multiples looking to win the battle for customer loyalty and sales

The pace of change and transformation across the optical retail industry continues to intensify – new and forward-thinking brands and retailers push on with disrupting the mainstream; technology innovation drives significant change and an already overcrowded market battle with highly competitive pricing strategies in a bid to win and retain custom.

It goes without saying Covid-19 has been a huge blow to the industry, with eyewear goods and services suffering heavy declines and reduction in sales. And, on top of all that, the pandemic has of course been a catalyst for change across the whole sphere of retail, most of all physical retail.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – with opticians staying open in subsequent lockdowns, many local and high street opticians took advantage of a local resurgence. And although some cities and shopping centres remain quieter than before, with physical retail finally returning, the optical retail landscape stands firm, with the industry predicted to record volume growth again in 2021.

Physical retail isn't about to perish

In mainstream retail, we have seen iconic store closures, brands diminish and retailers scaling down, but physical retail hasn’t been swallowed up and lost forever. The high street is undeniably fragile and looks very different right now, but it isn’t about to perish.

Conversely, amid the turbulence of the past year, there have been exceptional examples of physical retailers transforming and innovating. And with the digital world accelerating beyond belief, physical retailers of all shapes and sizes have come to embrace technology in some shape or form – ultimately allowing them to create a holistic experience for their customers – whilst still placing physical retail at the crux of their strategy.

Additionally, retailers are demonstrating true grit, tenacity, and a genuine desire to transform. And it’s these retailers and businesses who are best placed to tough it out. Frankly, the last year has shown us that to survive, doing the same old, same old, is not an option! Now is the time to adapt, and optical retail is no exception!

Independent opticians and multiples most at risk as they struggle to complete.

For too long optical retail has lagged, and despite new and forward-thinking optical brands and retailers disrupting the industry; the acceleration of change in mainstream retail has the potential to leave optical retailers and practices trailing behind.

As the future of retail evolves, optical independents and multiple practices must adapt and embrace the changing future of retail. Yet, fortunately, optical independents and multiple practices are unique in that they have their own inherent strengths, that cannot always be matched, particularly by the larger brands and chains that dominate the optical and eyewear market.

And, it’s these same inherent strengths that will allow them to adapt, push boundaries and truly pave the way for optical retail. But to so do, it’s crucial opticians define their brand and store on their induvial strengths and core values. Consequently, opticians should then be asking themselves if their physical environment and space reflect their brand and core values, as well as providing an authentic customer experience tailored to their audience.

 

Authentic customer experience

The customer experience in optics has long since been just about providing expert clinical eye care to patients. The ability to effectively sell products and services by an omnichannel approach has become crucial for optician practices not only to thrive… but survive!

 

Additionally, patients have come to expect a lot more, after all, they are not just patients, they are fashion-conscious, savvy customers, wanting a unique and tailored customer experience – the same standard of experience habituated from mainstream retail.

 

Yet, despite the increasingly digital retail world, optical retail is incredibly unique in that the clinical aspect of the customer experience cannot be replaced. Nonetheless harnessing in-store technology has the potential to bring about real change in optical retail environments, especially as we see improved virtual try-on technology and digital measurements added to the customer experience.

 

By establishing an authentic customer experience, only then will opticians have the foundation to create an honest and genuine relationship with patients and customers…that will help win customers, improve sales and gain customer loyalty.

 

How can effective retail design increase revenue?

A strong retail design strategy is a fundamental component for independent and multiple optician practices looking to stand firm and ultimately win the battle for customer loyalty and sales.

To make optical environments work and increase practice revenue, many design fundamentals need to be in place. Whilst the customer experience covers each step through the store, every touchpoint, and interaction is made up of many different elements.

Dean Waugh, Founder, and Creative Director, Retail Experience Design explains…

“I often see new optical fit-outs, that, on the surface look aesthetically pleasing. But it’s clear that they’re lacking in strategic retail design.

It is crucial optical retailers have a clear understanding of the retail market, both inside and out of optics – it impacts on their retail strategy. They need to understand their current and future customers – have insight into what their customers are looking for in terms of product, service, environment, and experience.

Opticians need to take their brand and identity seriously – does it truly reflect ‘their’ business values and the services provided? How does the brand and identity connect with current and future customers? Is it aligned? And crucially, is the brand identity reflected consistently throughout the space, environment, design, and people?

In addition, with our increasing reliance on digital, as an independent optician or multiple practice – it’s important to plan how best to leverage digital within the physical environment.

Dean goes on to say….” I once had a client say that they couldn’t understand why they were unable to sell any of their premium frames, whilst pointing over to a dark corner, where glasses were positioned on a raw MDF shelf, with edges peeling away from the askew surface. Effectively presenting the right products and services at the right time, in the right way is one of the very basic principles of retail design.

Every optical retailer is different; but they all have one goal – to win customers, increase sales and gain customer loyalty. But it all starts with a good retail store design strategy.