When it comes to selling eyewear, opticians have a great focus.
When it comes to selling eyewear, opticians have a great focus. Successful ones sell a large volume of sunglasses, and they've worked hard at building up their sun sales. We turned to two top eyecare pros who, throughout their years of professional experience in the eyewear industry, have built up an impressive sunglass sales business within their optical retail offices. Here, they provide a few key essentials that can turn your retail or eyewear store into a sunglass hot spot.
Patti Galko, Director of Retail Operations, Northeastern Eye Institute, Scranton, PA.
How much of your business is sunglass sales? PATTI GALKO: In upwards of 15%, and those numbers are steadily increasing. ROXANNE ARMSTRONG: Our office sells approximately 45%.
What's the key reason you've been successful in selling sunglasses? GALKO: We expanded our product mix and price points. We believe that whatever you want your sunglass sales to be, you should really devote that much space to it. For example, if you want your sales to be 20% sunglasses, then you should devote 20% of your frameboard space to it. Pick your sales target and devote the space and time to sell sunglasses. ARMSTRONG: We attribute our success to our constant researching of new product knowledge and a passionate belief in the importance of sunwear for every patient. Eyetech devotes 50% of retail space to sunwear.
How many different sun collections do you carry? GALKO: We carry over a dozen lines in varying price points. We believe in having a good selection for our broad patient base. We want people to realize that we are seriously in the sunglass industry. The top name brands that we carry include such lines as Maui Jim, Nike, Bollé, Serengeti, and Carerra for our performance collections. Our fashion collections include Sean John, Coach, and Fendi, just to name a few. ARMSTRONG: We carry about 24 sunglass collections, and styles from Oakley and Rudy Project are our best sun sellers because we specialize in performance sports and sunwear. These collections are adaptable to most sporting applications.
How do you display your sunglasses? GALKO: We try to use a “Sun Center” method, putting the sunglasses all together in one spot. To the patient or customer, it looks like you are definitely in the sunwear business. We cross merchandise with the ophthalmic lines. For example if they choose an Rx frame from Coach, they can see the sun selections from Coach too. For retailers, that could translate to cross-merchandising your other products/clothing/accessories with the same brand of sunglasses. You want to keep the sunglasses and the brands or designers in front of the consumer. ARMSTRONG: We have selections on display year-round for sport-specific lines such as golfing, tennis, boating, extreme sports, cycling, triathlon, etc. We also display our protective sports sunwear and fashion collections.
Who is your competition and how do you set yourself apart from those channels?
Photo courtesy of Mykita
GALKO: There’s competition from everywhere: Sunglass Hut, the Internet, even flea markets. We differentiate ourselves from these outlets because we offer professional service and expertise. We also play up our 30-day guarantee: if you don’t like them, you can bring them back. And, we offer professional service even after the sale, say for repairs or complaints. ARMSTRONG: Every optical professional needs to understand that EVERYONE is your competition. The department stores, upscale boutiques, and sunglass vendors in mall kiosks have all got a financial stake in capturing the sunwear purchase of your patients. We set ourselves apart by having the best selection available in a user-friendly format with helpful, knowledgeable staff who educate and guide patients through the selection process. We offer the best price (no discounting/no bargaining) and the most personalized service that our patients can ask for. We also have a comprehensive informational-only Web site that acts as a great source of referrals for our two locations.
What is your biggest challenge in selling sunwear? GALKO: Definitely patient education seems to be our top challenge. We try to show patients that we have what they’re looking for in sunwear, and we work hard to create awareness about the need for appropriate sunglasses. Another challenge is getting all of the doctors and staff to ask people to buy sunglasses. To do this, you must talk about sunglasses with every person who walks in. ARMSTRONG: The biggest challenge in selling sunwear is always patient education and overcoming price objections based on inappropriate choices available from other avenues. When someone understands the necessity of quality sunwear and how it relates to his or her life, it is usually not difficult to sell them appropriate sunwear for their needs. Our sunglass patients appreciate our knowledge and skill in fitting them with sunwear that suits their needs.
In your opinion, what are some key factors for sunglass sales success? GALKO: Selection, quality, fair price, product knowledge and talking points, and simply asking customers to buy sunglasses. ARMSTRONG: Product knowledge is absolutely key to boosting sunwear sales.