Like it or not, shopping online is here to stay. Consumers love the convenience and choice, but how does an ethical optician navigate their way between pleasing the patient and avoiding competing with online discount stores?
- Decide what type of website you need: a brochure site that tells potential customers and patients who you are, what you offer and where to find you; a catalogue website which showcases your products, but doesn’t allow people to buy online; or an e-commerce site which allows people to buy online.
- Plan which products you will sell and to whom. You may want to stick with accessories, sunglasses, contact lens solutions and dry eye products. You could offer contact lens ordering for existing patients, or you may decide to take the leap into selling specs online. Whatever you choose, you will need to consider the ethical and professional issues and regulations.
- Set up your social media. Whatever type of website you have you will need to drive traffic to it. Social media is a great way to do this, and is low cost. Pick a member of staff who is social media savvy to manage it day-to-day, but ensure that you plan out a strategy so social media content fits with your marketing too.
- Get quotes for a new website: there are some companies that specialise in retail sites, and others that focus on optical businesses. Check out different sites that you like from a range of businesses and make a list of features for the website companies to include.
- Allow plenty of your own time to liaise with the web designer: a new site takes time and effort to implement. Have a beta launch date where you have the new site ready for internal testing, and a public launch date a week or so later when all glitches have been ironed out.
Follow these steps and you will soon be making the most of online business opportunities for your practice.