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Future-proofing your optical practice

How retail design can increase performance and profitability

Investing in the design of your optical practice might seem like a big ask, especially when things are ticking along just fine. Why shake things up if your practice is already functional, and meeting your patients’ needs?

On top of that, the thought of temporarily being unable to trade can feel daunting, picking the right design team and contractors a headache, and navigating the complexities of a re-design and fit-out nothing short of disruptive. But, above all, spending on an already decent place might have you wondering, “What’s the point?”.

Dean Waugh, Owner & Creative Director of Retail Experience Design believes that a practice redesign and fit-out is a strategic investment, and done right, has the potential to transform your practice in many ways, ultimately leading to increased performance and profitability. Dean explains:

We’ve repeatedly shown that investing in their practice environment, we can create a space that’s not only visually engaging, but also strategically designed to increase sales and enhance the overall customer-patient experience”.

Investing in your practice environment might seem like an outlay at first, and whilst the upfront costs for a design and build project costs can seem significant, it’s wise to view them as an investment rather than an expense. Over time, the benefits from a strategically designed optical practice have the potential to far outweigh the initial expenditure.

A strategic, well-executed optical design has the power to transform your traditional, tired interior into a unique retail space that reflects your brand and elevates your frames and products. The ability to leverage your space to create a highly efficient working environment – one that balances delivering a positive patient experience with practice functionality, attracting new and retaining existing customers – all the components necessary to enhance performance and profitability.

Where art and science intersect: the strategic impact of optical practice design

Dean continues: “There’s both an art and science to what we do. This isn’t just about creating the right aesthetic for your practice – although that’s often the first thing people notice about our work. Behind every inspiring optical interior in our portfolio, there’s a wealth of strategic thinking aiming to improve the customer-patient experience and commercial performance.

“We understand design can sometimes feel a bit intangible. It’s not always clear what you’re investing in. That’s why I think it’s important for opticians looking to future-proof their business to look at some of our previous projects and see how we’ve applied our strategic design thinking and problem-solving skills to make a practical difference for optical clients.”

And that’s not all – we have plenty of figures and feedback from our clients, demonstrating the difference investing in their practice with a re-design has made to their business.

A compelling example is when we reconfigured Park Vision’s Nottingham-based practice. Our brief was to elevate the interior to achieve a boutique look and feel, whilst making their existing space more functional and able to accommodate more patients. Park Vision saw some hugely impressive stats recorded over a two-year period following their practice re-design and fit-out. 

  • 58% increase in total profit
  • 135% increase in retail sales
  • 123% increase in overall sales
  • 40% more clinical exams per week
  • 844 new patients
  • Fully booked clinics 2-3 weeks ahead.

How can a designer help an optician improve sales?

Every optical practice is unique, but they all have the same commercial goal – to win customers, increase sales and gain customer loyalty. That’s why providing expert clinical eyecare to patients is just part of what keeps customers coming back to your practice. 

Patients are consumers too. They want the same kind of tailored experience they’ve come to expect from, say, a fashion retailer. So, the ability to effectively sell products and services is increasingly important for opticians to be profitable.

By applying design expertise and creative imagination, a designer will:

  • look intelligently at the way you interact with your customers-patients, both clinically and from a retail perspective; a designer will help to provide an unrivalled patient-customer experience.
  • Understand the way you work and carefully plan your space to help your team operate as efficiently as possible.
  • Help you stand out from competitors by capturing and conveying your brand – considering the ambience you want to create – warm and welcoming, clinical, and professional or high end, fashion-focused?

Addressing both functional and aesthetic aspects of your practice creates a personalised experience that can set opticians apart from their competitors, build loyalty and keep patients returning.

A great example of this this is the transformation undertaken by the long-established family optical group, Chapmans. Collaborating with Retail Experience Design, Chapmans first embarked on a brand redesign. This involved evaluating the company values, vision and evolving identity to redefine how Chapmans wanted to be perceived by their client base.

Following the brand overhaul, a new concept for Chapmans flagship store was developed.  But the store concept wasn’t limited to a single location; it extended across Chapmans other practices in their portfolio. The roll out was tailored to six individual practices, all with differing spatial constraints, varying local context and desired patient flow.

By embarking on a strategic redesign of their brand and physical space, Chapmans achieved growth in demand for appointments as well as turnover.

  • Growth in demand for appointments by 15%
  • Turnover in excess of 20%

The dual ROI: immediate profit boosting potential and sustained growth

Investing in the design of an optical practice isn’t just a strategy for future growth; it offers immediate rewards as well.

Take Chapmans Opticians and Park Vision, for instance –their investment has not only promised long-term profitability through enhanced customer attraction and retention but has also delivered swift increases in retail sales and appointment bookings, demonstrating rapid results.

These results aren’t unusual. Lynne Fernandes Opticians saw unprecedented sales within two weeks of unveiling their redesigned space, aimed at enhancing customer experience and staff morale: an impressive 33% jump in retail sales within four months of re-opening, compared to the previous year. Their continued collaboration with Retail Experience Design underscores the value of expert design services tailored to the optical sector. Similarly, Ashdown & Collins experienced a 20% increase in their weekly sales average just three months after their redesign, with customer feedback overwhelmingly positive about the new look. Meanwhile, Perspective Opticians recorded a 10% increase in retail sales in the first month following their practice redesign.

As Dean Waugh says: “These examples vividly illustrate how investing in design can achieve both immediate boosts and sustained growth, making a compelling case for opticians to consider the aesthetic and functional overhaul of their practices.”

In essence, a strategic redesign isn’t about improving the aesthetics – making things look better. It’s about positioning your practice for long-term success and laying the foundation for sustainable growth and profitability. Ultimately, the investment in redesigning your optical practice can be one that pays for itself time after time.

Let’s transform your space together

If you want to know more, get in touch – we’re always happy talking shop.

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