You&Safilo: “It came at the right time”
Senior managing director for Safilo Western Europe, Frederic Laffort, talks OT through the company’s new business-to-business platform
Safilo has launched a new digital business-to-business platform in order to provide a “one-shop solution” for practices, bringing together the company’s eyewear product catalogue and practice tools in one place.
The ‘You&Safilo’ platform has been designed with optometrists in mind, aiming to offer a user-friendly framework to easily navigate the Safilo catalogue and simplify the process, from ordering through to after-sales management.
Key to the site is facilitating the order process of glasses and spare parts with product descriptions and intuitive order tools.
Speaking to OT, Frederic Laffort, Safilo’s managing director of North Europe (France & Benelux, DACH, UK and Nordics), said the platform would enable optometrists to “discover our portfolio of brands, order what they are looking for, discover the latest innovations and manage spare parts and warranties.”
The company plans to build on the platform in the future, incorporating more trade marketing tools and digital assets, as well as enabling brand training.
To build the platform, Safilo carried out a series of interviews to consider the needs of independent optometrists and what would be needed from the service.
“The key conclusion was that it needs to be user-friendly, easy to navigate and to find what you are looking for,” Mr Laffort said.
With 25 brands, the platform has an extensive filtering system to enable easy navigation.
“Any type of filter you could dream about is now included in the tool,” Mr Laffort said. “If you have a specific need for an end consumer, with a couple of clicks you should be able to find different types of options on offer within the brand portfolio.”
The platform also shows what is available and ready to ship, allowing optometrists with an urgent request to place fast orders.
By using the platform, Safilo’s customers will have full access to the company’s portfolio, enabling them to place orders for frames in different colours or styles to suit the consumer’s needs. Mr Laffort said: “I think that should be used as a tool for the independent optician to have a larger collection to offer, without having to carry the stock in store.”
The new platform forms part of Safilo’s digital transformation plans, originally announced in December 2019 to support its customer-centric approach.
Mr Laffort suggested the new B2B platform presented a way to add a new service for optometrists to interact with the company at any time in the week.
“The COVID-19 situation has shown the importance of being flexible and agile,” Mr Laffort said. With the additional pressures on optometrists and new measures in practice, “Adding opportunities for them to interact with us outside of the working hours, such as in the evening after closing the practice, we believed was a great opportunity.”
Safilo will continue to offer training, sales and advice in-store, but with the platform offering additional opportunities for customers.
Although plans for the platform were already in place, Mr Laffort acknowledged: “It came at the right time.”
The platform has been designed by software company, Salesforce, drawing on feedback from optometrists across Europe.
The impact of COVID-19
“What has been interesting was the rebound. Back in April and May, nobody knew what it would look like. It started in Europe in Italy, France and Spain, in June, very fast. In the UK it was seen more in the July-September period. We have seen an acceleration in the last couple of months.
“The sunglasses business has been a bit more affected as people have been travelling less. We have seen that the optical frame business has been quite resilient. As a consumer, if they need a prescription, they will go to their independent optometrist to buy a new frame.
“The category itself has been very resilient, when we look at 2020 overall. What was lost in the first half of the year has not been fully recovered in the second, but we have seen a good rebound.
“I think going forwards, I would expect consumers are used to the new environment. The need for prescription frames is still going to be high, and I think business will be quite positive going forwards.”