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I could not live without...

An iPad

Dispensing optician Phil Howlett highlights the benefits of having a ‘virtual friend’ in practice

04 Sep 2016 by Emily McCormick

There are many tools that can be used in everyday practice to demonstrate products to clients. But there is one essential tool that no modern and forward-thinking practice should be without – an iPad.

If used effectively in practice, it can increase the average sale, grow conversion rates, help to sell more expensive products and evoke that crucial ‘wow’ experience as part of the customer journey. 

Initially, the practice will need to invest in an iPad. However, before placing an order, speak to your lens suppliers to see if any of them is willing to provide you with one. Depending on a practice’s monthly spend, they may be willing to do so free of charge. If so, the iPad would normally be sent by the supplier with their lens app already loaded, meaning you can get going straight away.

An i for detail

On numerous occasions, clients will likely visit the practice for an eye test without their partner. As a result, when it comes to choosing new spectacles, they can find it a daunting task to do alone. Practices are at risk of losing a sale if clients can’t decide on their purchase, and leaving and ‘coming back’ at a later date gives them thinking time that can lead to lost revenue if they don’t return. This is where your virtual friend – the iPad – comes into play and helps close the sale. 

Using the iPad, I recommend that a practitioner takes several photos of the client wearing different frame styles and colours, ensuring you select some more unusual styles to make them think about a different look altogether, combined with some more expensive frames in the mix too.

Taking photos is a great way of showcasing different frames styles and is useful if the client has a higher prescription and can’t see without their spectacles on – especially if they don’t like the idea of having contact lenses fitted to help them choose their new spectacles.

By discussing and involving your client in the decision process, you can point out the features and benefits of your higher-value products. If your client really can’t decide, you could offer to email them the photos so they can share them with their partner at home, or involve the rest of the family… remember this can also be a fun way to choose new glasses.

"For what is a relatively small investment, the iPad will help practices increase sales and provide clients with the 'wow' factor, giving them a fun and memorable experience that they will share with friends and family"

Once the client has narrowed it down to a couple of frames, I suggest taking the relevant measurements for both. Then, once they have decided, they can simply email you and tell you which pair to order, saving them the hassle of returning to the practice.  

If you don’t hear from your client after a few days of sending the photos, you have the opportunity to give them a ‘courtesy call’ to confirm if they’ve received your email and to see if they need any more help making a decision.

App support

Your lens app will enable you to demonstrate the difference in lens thickness, coating up grades and polarization, to name a few. One of the most useful apps to show your presbyopic clients is the progressive lens section as it allows you to demonstrate the difference in progressive lenses, enhancing clients’ understanding of them. And remember to discuss occupational designs in addition to your progressives – a more informed choice usually leads to a higher sale.

Most suppliers of sports eyewear and lenses have their own apps, which you can download free of charge. These are a great way of showing off the difference between lens tints for sport-specific designs, giving you a competitive advantage.

The iPad opens up a world of opportunity, giving you instant access to online catalogues at the touch of a button, without having to leave your client. You can even go the extra mile and measure their new spectacles, which is especially useful when dispensing bespoke products.

For what is a relatively small investment, the iPad will help practices increase sales and provide clients with a fun and memorable experience that they will share with friends and family.


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