TECHNOLOGY: CLICK: R(e)Tail An Independent OD Takes a Proactive Stance on E-Comm With Ocuco to Better Connect to Patients By Staff Friday, December 18, 2020 8:25 AM NEW YORK—The year's pandemic has accelerated some eyecare professionals’ interest in finding ways to get credit for their professional expertise in vision care and its solutions while still competing in modern ways with those online players who have been experiencing rapid sales gains in 2020 as many consumers do more shopping online from home. In fact, encouraging eyecare professionals to cultivate their digital savvy and take a more ‘omnichannel’ or brick-and-click approach has been a major focus for Ocuco which offers an extensive range of enterprise software solutions for ECPs, retailers and optical labs around the world, including a growing business in North America. Ocuco recently shared some significant recent stats: • COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation within the optical industry at an unprecedented rate. Online searches for eye doctors saw a 5000 percent increase in search in 2020 according to a Google Trends Analysis by Ocuco. • Eyewear is among the fastest projected growth product categories online – it is projected to grow 13 percent by 2023 (only 2 years away) and what is most shocking is that its growth is comparable to the electronic segment which is projected to grow by 14 percent, according to Statistica. Through its many-faceted e-commerce technology, and related services, the company has been helping ECPs bridge the gap between virtual and on-site visits, programs which have been expanding among ECPs this year, the company told CLICK. In fact, Ocuco’s Andy Chance-Hill, who oversees omnichannel for the company, shared several additional trends and perspectives in a Q&A with Vision Monday this spring of this year, illuminating several key trends in this arena. More recently, in August, Ocuco also hosted a webinar, “Optometry Retail Resilience,” featuring the expertise and perspective of the company’s global head of digital marketing, Chris Mantle. Attendees gained insights from the breakthrough stories of independent optometry clinics that have adopted a clicks-and-bricks model. Attendees learned how to get creative with to maximize transactions while working in a socially distant world and understand the tools and techniques used to ensure customers do not drop off the online patient journey, increasing conversion rates and 2nd pair sales, Ocuco said. That webinar is viewable here: https://vimeo.com/448467946. CLICK recently spoke with one North American independent vision care professional who has benefitted from Ocuco’s e-comm solutions for his group of practices. Dr Bruce Coward & Associates has three practices in Bellevue, Trenton and Brighton located in Ontario, Canada. He worked with the Ocuco OptiCommerce team to help him set up the virtual consult ability he needed via his website when COVID-19 first appeared this year. Even in 2019, Dr. Coward wanted to provide more information options to patients. Dr. Coward told CLICK, “I wanted a frame catalog, we wanted people to know about the brands in our office, so they had a chance to look and see the brands and collections before they came in. We were interested in virtual try on. But we were up and running before the pandemic so we were well-positioned and we are expanding this.” Dr. Coward's practices offer contact lens ordering online. When the pandemic began, Dr. Coward also worked to establish mobile consults and virtual visits with patients. And going forward, he intends to bring in a new appointment scheduling capability and other features online to support the practice and reinforce its expertise. “We intend to promote it further and develop more proactive digital marketing and communications with patients, we’ll add that in the new year.” Those interested in learning more can email the company at firstname.lastname@example.org for point of reference. The eCommerce team will then be in touch directly to help assess first and make some recommendations.