Dr. Raymond Brill’s practice now offers a ‘Shop Online’ option to patients with Made
Eyewear’s collection, imagery and fulfillment and e-commerce capabilities.
SUN VALLEY, Calif.—In recent years, more ECPs and optical retailers have reconsidered their initial competitive reactions to the rise of online eyewear sales—and want to find a way to take part directly, viewing their participation as an enhancement to their traditional brick-and-mortar offices and dispensary locations. A new program from Made Eyewear is creating a solution for some of those independent locations to provide a “brick and click” option for their patients.
Made is an online site which offers original, customizable collections of ophthalmic frames and sunglasses to consumers via what it calls a “digital canvas”, where they can choose a range of shapes and colors for the front of the frame, the temples, engravings and other details for Made to produce and assemble a one-of-a-kind custom sunglass or optical frame.
Made also offers its own line of designed and developed optical and sunglass styles which can be ordered directly from the site. The company targets today’s Millennial customer in its language, style, imagery and approach—including a new “influencer” program of bloggers and personalities, known as “Badassadors,” who wear Made Eyewear and communicate about the brand to their own fans and followers.
More recently, Kevin Hundert, the company’s founder and CEO, explained to VM’s CLICK, “We saw an additional opportunity for the Made brand and our capabilities and that was to partner with ECPs and optical retailers and propose an arrangement that would enable them to sell frames 24/7 with an ‘instant’ online e-commerce presence.
"We felt we could help them gain new customers by participating in Made’s dealer locator and by providing eye exams and other paid services to our customer base. And, we felt we’d be able to have them be the first to carry one of the hottest, contemporary brands around, targeting the elusive Millennial market.”
Hundert continued, “For us, building a presence in independent ECP and optical retail locations was a logical next step. When people place orders online, they need an Rx and often don’t have one and want to know where to go. At the same time, doctors and ECPs are looking for solutions to help them offer patients an opportunity to try an e-commerce experience. We feature participating retailers in our doctor locator but we also have started to place our collections in their stores—with 24/7 e-comm capabilities.”
Made works with doctors to build customer landing pages, while the branding and wording is customized for that ECP.
Brill Eye Center, Mission, Kan., is an upscale practice with a high-end dispensary and now
features a dedicated Made Eyewear collection display in its dispensary.
One such practice that has recently started working with Made is Brill Eye Center, in Mission, Kan. Said Raymond J. Brill, OD, FAAO, “Managed care companies and large multinational suppliers have now been online for several years, supposedly not competing with independents but to help us retain our patients.
"Labs, managed care companies, suppliers of frames and lenses are all interdependent—we need them and they need us. Consumers are getting used to online purchasing of eyewear. Therefore, it is time to reassess our conventional participation in more than just the bricks and mortar professional in-office channel.”
Brill added, “After all, Barnes and Noble and Costco have their online channels as well as stores. The difference is that the product offerings at those retailers are just commodities. Now, consumers are considering glasses as a commodity to purchase on demand 24/7. We ECPs in private practice know the downsides of purchasing online glasses, namely getting accurate measurements, adjustments, and advice.
"What prompted me to proceed with aligning my practice with a Netflix-meets-Warby Parker-like model is when a patient who walked through my luxury office displaying 2,400 frames, including Cartier and Lindberg, asked if we have an online optical from which he could order his glasses. One of the criteria I used was that we wanted to display different products in our office than are presented online. We also could not go to the lengths of creating all that goes into the back-end fulfillment of such a website. Made fits that role perfectly.”
Brill admits that he did have concerns. “The first concern was that we would be able to deliver a stellar experience to the mostly Millennial consumers who preferred this approach. These patients are not used to personal service in the traditional manner, but they still want to have a great on-demand service experience.
"The price has to be low enough and the quality just good enough to satisfy the most basic visual needs. That is what disruptive innovation is all about, a basic no frills product at a lower price that is just ‘good enough like the ever-present camera on a cell phone being able to take pretty good photos vs a professional one.
“Our second concern is that we will inadvertently misrepresent our high-end, in-office brand of high tech and high touch that offers a superior product at commensurate value and pricing. We don’t want to have a cognitive dissonance about our well-deserved marketplace branding. But, we can no longer ignore the importance of being omni-channel in the presentation of eyewear.
"Patients now expect you to have a functional website that can be used for e-commerce, on-demand to get what they want when they want it. Who doesn’t like ordering on Amazon Prime in the wee hours of the morning and getting your stuff quickly?”
Said Brill, who has just initiated the program, which also coincides with the practice’s newly-updated website, overseen by Perry Brill, “Made Eyewear allows us to provide the essence of what is missing on a traditional online glasses site. Personal interaction in advance of the sale and after the sale is critical to long-term satisfaction and consumer delight.”
Explained Hundert, “When someone lands on the ‘Shop Now’ or Made Eyewear/Brill Eye langing page, we can track their experience on our site. So they have full access to our entire online offering, but we know that they are a Brill Eye Center customer.”
In the practice of Barry Leonard, OD, the Made Eyewear display, point-of-sale materials and
collection pieces, target Millennials and are given a dedicated area within the dispensary.
Another practitioner, Barry Leonard, OD, based in Panorama City, Calif., also recently started working with Made, putting in a full display and two interactive iPads in the dispensary.
Said Leonard, “We have been interested in frame/lens online packages for about 18 months. We have explored the few options available without finding a fit. The growth in on-line shopping is fully documented and will only continue to grow. I feel early adopters are in a better position to benefit. The major concern we had was in finding a product and service meeting our standards and a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Leonard added, “We began a few months ago and will display the Made Eyewear in our dispensary as well as be a service center for anyone needing our professional services. Customers have been attracted to the young, fashion forward frame designs. It’s our hope to be competitive in the online arena and in attracting new clients to our facility for our other services.”