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

In October 2021, a poll published by Optometry Times asked readers “What is your biggest frustration with contact lens fitting?” Thirty-four percent of respondents indicated that “losing revenue from patients purchasing their lenses elsewhere” is their biggest frustration. Granted, the poll represents only a small sampling of their audience but this response does fall in line with the hundreds of conversations our own sales and customer service teams have had with optometry practices all across Canada and the U.S. In fact, some practices quoted a 15%, or greater, decline in revenue as a direct result of contact lens sales lost to third party online retailers. Thankfully today, this is no longer always the case. What a delight it is to see independent practices across the country reclaiming these sales with their own e-commerce stores!

The arena of e-commerce was at one time an ocean dominated by the big fish. However, over the past two years many small businesses, optometry practices included, have tested the waters of e-commerce as a saving grace to the forced closure of their brick and mortar locations during the pandemic. Have they found the water just fine? The answer is, it depends.

The hard truth is making the leap to e-commerce takes planning and effort. It’s an adjustment that some businesses are either not willing to or don’t know how to make and it shows. Launch an online store and let it sit there; it’s an all but guaranteed failure. On the other hand, those who take the time to work with their stores and set them up for success, fully integrating e-commerce into their business model, have seen great rewards.

Companies who are done questioning if e-commerce is worth their efforts and resources are now heavily invested in the questions of how to attract, engage and retain customers and how to elevate their experience. One key trend that is unyielding in its importance is Personalization. Simply put, personalization is tailoring your customers’ experience by displaying products, making recommendations, customizing offers, creating content and optimizing marketing and email campaigns based on data such as behaviours, buying history and location. A solid personalization strategy is data driven and customer-centric. McKinsey & Company reports 76% of consumers are more likely to consider purchasing from brands that personalize and 78% are likely to return for repeat purchases. It makes sense then that big companies give a lot of weight to harvesting and employing this data to meet the expectations of their tens or hundreds of thousands of customers and site visitors.

Sounds daunting doesn’t it? Here’s the beauty of being a small business, more specifically an optometry practice wanting to offer this level of personalization to your patients. You already have the data. You know your patients or at least have the means to know them. You certainly know their medical history and prescription needs. That’s not to say you should use this data disingenuously. The whole point is to give your patients the opportunity to purchase their products from a trusted source, while supporting local – another motivator – through channels that affirm you care about what they want. Doing so will foster positive and ongoing relationships. We call this Patient-Commerce.

Platforms like Sightly have built in features that help you personalize your patients’ online experience with ease. Here are some things you can do using Sightly features and data:

  • - create an account for each patient
  • - onboard patients by creating their first order
  • - set automatic re-order reminders
  • - utilize the appointment request feature
  • - add product recommendations to a patient's cart
  • - direct ship contact lenses straight from the manufacturer
  • - offer a wide variety of products, not just lenses
  • - see previously viewed products
  • - review and approve patient orders to ensure accuracy
  • - send segmented emails
  • - add personal notes to orders
  • - easily send patients manufacturer rebate programs
  • - promote sales on customizable storefront banners

Of course brick and mortar has life in it yet, especially in the medical field as patients still have to see their doctors. Nevertheless, given the influx of online retailers and persistent changes to how patients are buying their eye care products, e-commerce is a vital component to the longevity of your practice. Personalizing the service is a must and a win-win for both practice and patient.

Sightly is a leader in unified Patient-Commerce (e-commerce for medical professionals) solutions designed specifically for optometry practices. Propelled in consultation with top optometry professionals and motivated by subscriber feedback, Sightly continues to enhance their product offering with tools intended to integrate the care and expertise your patients receive in-office, with the 24/7 accessibility they have to come to expect in an online world. There are no limits to the products you can retail on your Sightly storefront. Lenses, frames, dry-eye products, accessories, cosmetics even books have been sold using the Sightly platform. Launching an online store this robust has never been easier and Sightly will guide you through comprehensive training and accessible customer service.

To book a virtual demo of Sightly with a member of our team or to learn more about how to make the most of your existing online store click here.

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