Insights From Our Editors

Top 7 Current Business Trends That Should Already Be in Your Practice

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

Sept. 8, 2021

There are business trendsi that extend beyond optometry that you should be optimizing in your practice. Here are the details on those trends, including how to use them to better serve patients and grow your business.

Prior to the pandemic key business trends that occurred due to technology and consumer behavior were the adoption of business analytics and omni-channel marketing. These have been commonly incorporated into most practices. Looking to the future, here are the areas that you need to be adding to your practice.

On-Demand Economy Shift
We are living in a “I want it now” culture. The pandemic brought us convenience in shopping. We can sit at home and order groceries and food to be delivered. Amazon taught everyone to shop online for just about everything with next-day free shipping. The on-demand economy shift is evident everywhere.

The two behemoths in our profession – EssilorLuxottica and VSP – are engaged in a battle to see which company can solve the supply chain challenge better and faster. We need to make sure we are engaged in that arena as well.

What changes have you made in your practice to improve the supply chain process – to make your practice more convenient and deliver products better and faster?

Contact-Less Payment Options
Fear of contracting COVID-19 drove the acceptance of contact-less payment options. According to MasterCard, use of contact-less payment methods such as mobile pay and tap-to-pay have increased 40 percent.

What changes have you made in your practice to increase the use of contact-less payment options?

E-Commerce
Here are some numbers to think about:
• 49 percent of adult consumers avoid leaving their homes.
• 50 percent of adult consumers work entirely or partially from home.
• People are buying more things online.

A survey found the percentage of fashion purchases inspired by social media browsing was …
• 55 percent for Gen Z’ers
• 50.6 percent for Millennials
• 38.1 percent for Gen X
• 27.5 percent for Baby Boomers

What changes have you made in your practice to improve your e-commerce offerings?

Collaboration with Influencers
Influencers are social media users who create engaging content. They are usually not celebrities. They’ve grown a following large enough to attract the brands they use and believe in so the brands hire them to penetrate the markets they want to target.

Here are facts you need to know:
• Last year 380 new influencer-focused marketing agencies were established.
• There are 300 percent more micro-influencers (with 1,000 to 1 million followers) than in 2016.
Using Influencers is so big a trend that they are not just used by commercial brands, but also in politics.

You can tap into the “Influencers” approach in your practice by telling patients, “People like you who have purchased “X” often also purchase “Y.”

How is your practice implementing the “Influencers” trend?

Investments in Retail Technology
“Tech-enablement” is no longer a buzzword. It is a necessity for doing business. Customer relationship management, inventory management and accounting, and online human resources tools are essential to doing business today. Fulfilling these functions manually in a non-computer aided manner is behind the times, inefficient and harmful to your practice.

• 34 percent of businesses sold a product that was on back-order.
• 87 percent of retailers are planning to invest in mobile point-of-sale devices (think how an Apple store works).
• About 72 percent of owners in the retail space claim to invest in real-time visibility and automation to optimize their supply chains.

In your practice, can a patient check on where their job is in the supply chain without having to call your office and talk to your team? Do you know which frames patients touch (and how often) and which ones never get touched? What investments are you making in retail technology?

Better Focus on Employee Happiness
Most practices are not just giving team members a fair wage, but are going above and beyond by finding ways to improve employee happiness. According to research, employees are happiest when they feel they are contributing to meaningful work. If the mission of your practice is to improve the quality of life of every patient seen, can every team member express exactly how they personally contribute to making that happen?

Happy team members are 12 percent more productive. It helps when each team member has feedback on how well they are doing. How do your team members know when they have achieved milestones, goals and objectives?

What are you doing in your practice to improve employee happiness?

Improved Personalized Omni-Channel Experiences
The operative words here are “personalized” and “omni-channel.”

Our patients want to be addressed as unique people with unique needs. They want to know that you and your team understand their problems and have solutions that make sense to them for those problems.

Our patients also want to be able to receive services and products no matter what channel they choose. In today’s world, convenience is a major driver. Convenience, not price, is the major driver for online contact-lens sales. Convenience is the driving force behind online examinations. Telemedicine became the norm during the pandemic and has since dropped off, but it is not going away. No matter how strongly you feel that patients should only be examined in an office with a doctor physically present, the reality is that telemedicine is here to stay – and is expected to grow.

What changes are you making in your practice to make sure that each patient feels they are receiving “personalized care” through whatever “channel” they choose?

References
i. 11 Current Business Trends: 2021/2022 Data, Insights & Predictions | CompareCamp.com
ii. Source: eMarketer, 2019

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