By: Sandy Stark
6 min read, E-Commerce, Optometry

Easier Than You Think

We hear it all the time; despite their interest in adding an online store to their operations and all market indicators pointing to e-commerce as the most obvious direction for the industry, OD’s say their staff push back on the idea of adding any more tasks to their daily responsibilities. An online store is just too overwhelming to think about. We get it; the last couple of years have been a lot to deal with so naturally the thought of diving into e-commerce is daunting.

If your staff are resistant to change, as many people are, that’s another story altogether. We have ideas in a previous blog post that may help you get your staff to buy into change. However, if they are resistant because the concept of e-commerce feels a bit like standing at the bottom Mount Everest, then read on. You may be encouraged to find out launching your own online store is easier than you think.

First, there are several out-of-the-box solutions on the market that do the heavy lifting for you. These platforms are ready to take your business online with minimal effort on your part. We are not referring to only contact lens orders either. Why limit yourself to contact lens sales when you can have all your retail lineup at your patients’ fingertips? We are talking about lenses, frames, dry eye products, vitamins, cosmetics, accessories, sunnies, and anything else you can think of, all the while maintaining ownership of your patients’ buying journey. Sightly is just such a platform. In addition to retail sales, Sightly includes platform tools that help save you time and uses reminder notifications to secure reorders from your patients’ recurring eye care prescriptions.

The Checklist

When embarking on a major project, having a visual list of tasks to move through is a tried-and-true strategy to seeing the project through to completion without missing any steps. Follow this checklist to bring your online store to life! Bear in mind, this list assumes you have chosen your e-commerce provider and completed the sign-up process, whatever that may entail.

  1. Establish Your Product Offering: This is a natural first step. If you are going to operate an online store you must decide what you are going to sell. If slow and steady is your speed, start with one or two products: contact lenses and dry eye products, for example. If you’re ready to hit the ground running put it all up there!

  2. Set and Double Check Pricing: Establish the pricing of the products you intend to sell. Much of this is likely done if you already sell these products in office. The key step here is to double check the pricing and then check it again. The last thing you want is to publish a 6-month supply of Acuvue TruEye lenses for $38.00 instead of $380.00.

  3. Upload Products with Images and Descriptions: It’s time to upload your products. Here you will want to add your detailed product descriptions and clear images. In most cases, this information is available through the manufacturer catalogue.

  4. Settings: Tax Rates and Shipping Policies: Depending on your location, set your tax rates and shipping policies. Manage customer expectations by posting your policies on your storefront in an obvious location.

  5. Add 'About Us' and 'Contact Info': On your storefront you can boast about your practice in the About Us section, just as you do on your website. Also include your contact information.

  6. Show Off Your Branding: To varying degrees, depending on the platform, you will be able to customize your storefront. Most commonly you will attach a hero image or header banner and logo that is consistent with your branding. At Sightly we recommend this banner be updated regularly to keep it fresh. This space can also be used to advertise promotions and sales events.

  7. Create Staff User Profiles/Schedule Training: When you are handed the ‘keys’ to your storefront, at least one person in your office will already have a user profile with login in credentials. Add as many Users as you would like to have access to the administrative portal of your store. Our most successful Sightly subscribers assign at least one office champion who is primarily responsible for maintaining the online store and keeping abreast of platform updates and training. All Users of the platform should have complete training on functionality.

  8. Test Checkout Experience Before going live, run a test drive as though you were a patient making a purchase to make sure everything is running smoothly. Double check that your tax rates and shipping policies are clear and correct.

  9. Connect Your Store to Your Website Whether you manage your main website in-house or outsource it to another provider, the link to your online store must be front and centre on your website’s homepage. It is also advisable to include the link in the menu of each subsequent page. This link can be a simple button with a call to action such as “SHOP ONLINE”, “BUY NOW” or “ADD TO CART”. Make sure it is obvious, bright, and easy to find.

  10. LAUNCH YOUR STORE: If you’ve completed all the other steps, CONGRATULATIONS! There is nothing more to do but go LIVE! Once you do, take advantage of all your marketing channels to announce your new store. Use social media, blogs, in-office announcement cards with QR codes, email campaigns – anywhere and everywhere you communicate with your audience. Start with your existing patients and work outward.

That’s it! These are the basic steps to launching your own e-commerce store. Of course, you can expand beyond these steps, with added features such as virtual try-on of frames or rebate programs. But, to start this is all you need to offer your patients the added value of 24/7 convenience combined with expertise from their trusted doctor. In turn, you will reap the benefits of increased patient loyalty and a healthier bottom line.

It might interest you to know that Sightly works with its subscribers to complete all or in-part, 7 of these 10 steps. Click here if you’d like to book a 1:1 virtual demo to learn more about our robust e-commerce solution.

Powering Your E-commerce Store for Your Practice
Sightly is YOUR e-commerce store for YOUR patients to continue purchase the products YOU sell in between their visits (contact lenses, eye-drops, eye-vitamins, frames, etc.).

Click here for more information on the Sightly Platform