The pandemic has changed purchasing habits and retailers have been obliged to create a new customer experience, with a blend of on-line and off-line shopping. Despite this evolution, more traditional stores are hardly disappearing; it is only here that consumers can see and touch what they are buying, above all with the opportunity to interact with an expert. In our industry, this important feature is even more vital because the process of buying eyewear involves talking to a professional who will also take care of our visual health. In order for a physical store to be successful, it must focus on creating ways to guarantee a customer value journey.
Starting from these axioms and an analysis of the sector, Wmido has identified 8 trends that will characterise optical store retailing in the upcoming future.
1. Exploiting the internet
Online engagement is the first step of shopping, thanks to its instant nature and convenience, but it is also a tool for creating contact between potential users and introducing targeted interaction to encourage a visit to the store.
2. The centrality of the optician
The optician must know how to transmit his/her professionalism as a consultant of visual wellbeing, identifying the needs of the customer and recommending the most suitable solution while leading him/her through an immersive experience.
3. The store goes digital
If the shopping experience has changed, it is also inevitable that the physical store itself must undergo some changes, moving in a digital direction. The development of technology in optical stores is an added value and a change to further strengthen customer loyalty. Digital corners, LED walls, visuals, etc, all guarantee a memorable and unique experience.
4. Safety in the store
Never before has it been so important to work in safety within the optical store, respecting the anti-Covid regulations in the various stages of purchasing. This is the goal of the machines that allow “remote” measurement and checking of the eyes, the online appointment system, and the use of QR codes, which allow contact-less shopping.
5. Guaranteeing a real experience
Physical stores should not be seen as places to be visited when only strictly necessary, but rather as pleasant places to spend time, to enjoy an experience that can be talked about and shared.
6. How displays are changing
The optician’s store must transform into a type of “purchasing guide”. The display should not be chaotic but simple and clear, reducing the number of display units and concentrating on those products which are judged as most important to sell. By focusing on just a few products, their value will be increased.
7. Feeling at home
Many sectors have adopted the trend of creating a comforting atmosphere, attractive and homely. The addition of areas for children, reading areas and food/drink areas all enrich the shopping experience, encouraging the customer to return.
8. From Green-thinking to Green-normal
The pandemic has highlighted the direct link between the environment and health, forcing companies and individuals to change mentality. Consumers are more aware of their habits, and want to know what they are wearing and how their glasses were produced. Environmentally sustainable products are an added value to be actively pursued, alongside an effective communication strategy and a specific display area inside the store. Note: shortly, “green-thinking” will become “green-normal”!
Top photo: Bestore Award winners: Kempkes Optiek of the Netherlands, which won the Bestore Design; Optician Store (Romania), which was awarded the Bestore Innovation; and Eyes on Sheppard of Canada, which won the award in the Your Bestore category.