Insights From Our Editors

Understanding the Online Eyewear Consumer: Who Do They Buy From?

February 25, 2015

Americans who go online to purchase eyewear prefer to purchase from eyeglass retailers, rather than retailers who just happen to also sell eyeglasses, according to The Vision Council VisionWatch 2014 Internet Influence Report. Online eyeglass buyers prefer to use web sites operated by eyewear retailers, especially retailers that only have a presence on the web (e.g. eyebuydirect.com, framesdirect.com, coastal.com).

Among plano sunglass buyers, general online retailers that also sell eyewear (like Amazon.com and buy.com), sunglass specialty retailers (sunglasshut.com, solsticestores.com, etc.) and online auctioning services (e.g. eBay.com) are the most popular sites used to purchase plano sunglasses online. Significant numbers of recent OTC reader buyers purchased readers from sites operated by general online retailers, sites operated by eyewear retailers that only have an online presence, as well as online auctioning services.

Are you losing patients to online purchases of eyewear? According to The Vision Council VisionWatch 2014 Internet Influence Report, online eyeglass buyers prefer companies such as eyebuydirect.com and framesdirect.com. Let’s take a look at those two web sites and see what marketing lessons we can apply to our own web sites.

At eyebuydirect.com the first thing that happens when you go to the web site is a page that offers $10 off your first purchase. Interestingly, you have the ability to refuse their offer, but you can’t get to their web site until either you accept or reject their offer. To accept their offer, you have to enter your e-mail. This is classic marketing 101. They are capturing your e-mail address, so even if you do not purchase, they have your e-mail to market directly to you in the future.

The next web page you see at eyebuydirect.com has two attractive young women wearing glasses who appear to be in their late teens to early twenties. Remember that women make most of the medical decisions for a family. There is no price listed for the frames on this page, however, the page rotates to two other pages. The next page that rotates up is a young woman in the same age range as before with a price this time of $29 for frame and lenses. The next rotating page is a young man in the same age range as before with a price of $39 for frame and lenses.

Choosing to go beyond the initial rotating three web pages takes you to a catalog of 441 pages of frames. The marketing messages here are youth, price and lots of frame choices.

The next web site, framesdirect.com, tries to capture your e-mail on the first page, as well. This is a marketing lesson it would be well for us to remember. Framesdirect adds another classic marketing component of the success story on the first web page. At the bottom of the page is the following testimonial: “SHOP HERE FIRST! The customer service was excellent. My frames were delivered promptly and they were authentic Versace frames as advertised with the authenticity guarantee. Their price was also unbeatable. Highly recommend.”
Cheryl L. / USA

Success stories help the potential purchaser to feel more comfortable making a purchase. The rationale is: They did it and were successful, so I can do it and be successful.

Framesdirect.com uses another tactic that you should consider. The first web page states: “It’s a new year! Use your new FSA/HSA dollars on Prescription Eyewear!” This takes you to a page that explains how you can use your FSA/HSA dollars to purchase prescription eyewear. From a marketing standpoint, they are making it easy for you to buy from them. This is a step that all practices should mirror.

At the top of the framesdirect.com web page, you are given three choices: Shop Eyeglasses, Shop Rx Sunglasses and Shop Sunglasses. Lower down on this first web page, you are also offered three choices that are: “Sunglasses as seen in American Sniper,” “Always Popular Bestselling eyeglasses” and “Do you have new FSA/HSA dollars?” The marketing insight here is to give patients direction without overwhelming them with choices. Three choices at a time is the best approach.

Framesdirect.com lets you choose a discount between 10 percent of the entire job or 30 percent off of lenses. That is an interesting approach. You can choose your discount. This is a classic example of forced-choice decision making.

Pricing on this web site is not at the lowest end. The Wiley X WX Saint American Sniper Sunglasses are $78.50 and the top ten eyeglasses for men range in price from $105.50 to $225.91. Additional web pages on framesdirect.com show lots of frame choices at lots of price points.

Here are 7 things we learned from these two web sites that we can put into use on our web sites:

1) Capture e-mails for future targeted marketing.
2) Offer a discount choice to draw people in.
3) The majority of your first page pictures should be women – men can be shown later.
4) Give the perception of lots of choices and a wide range of price points.
5) Guide patients with three choices at a time.
6) Use success stories to increase patient comfort levels for purchase.
7) Capture FSA/HSA dollars.

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