Dispensing, Feature

Competing with millennial outlets: Part 2

New technology has given dispensers lots of tools to meet the varying needs of customers. In the final of his series, LEIGH ROBINSON explains how to offer a service that can’t be matched online.

In part one I defined ‘Value Fashion’ as experience-based shopping that tells customers the story behind you, what you are selling and how it will change their life. Lens technology is a great way to tell your story.

Leigh Robinson, RMIT.

Never before has lens selection provided so much opportunity to meet the visual needs of your customer. Lens technology has advanced so much that we can now provide our customers with a pair of lenses for every situation.

Most importantly, lenses like this can’t be purchased online.

The millennial customer doesn’t understand lens technology, but wants solutions to their issues. What they will understand is your recommendation of technologically advanced lenses and the benefits they provide, like increased productivity in the workplace, reduced asthenopia and ergonomic discomfort.

Tell the story of how your lens recommendations can help them ride faster, run better and ski safer. Tell them how the right lens could take five shots off their golf handicap or keep them safe while driving. Tell them about the benefits of clear vision in all gaze directions and how individually personalised lenses can improve their life.

Because your customers can buy single vision lenses online, recommend anti-fatigue and enhanced readers. Use and recommend precise, personalised lenses that require accurate facial measurements to tell the lab how and where the frame sits on the face.

This is something that simply cannot be purchased online.

Sharper image

Your storefront is your best asset for attracting foot traffic, but do you really understand just how important it is?

Here’s the truth — the exterior of your business can be responsible for roughly 45% of your story in marketing. Prospective customers judge whether they think your store will meet their needs in the first 15 seconds of walking past. If your image or story fails to make a good impression, they will keep walking.

Keep your storefront fresh and interesting through modern product displays and clean windows. Fresh paint, stylish design, nice furniture and good lighting can go a long way.

Rather than purely buying and selling product, make each product an element of your bigger story. Cotton On, a millennial focused retail store, recognised that in the last decade the number of 20-year-olds who hold a passport has increased by 20%. Based on that fact, they quite successfully introduced travel goods to their clothing lines.

Change your story every 6–8 weeks and focus on your practice’s demographics with stories such as: the she-volution, him-interests, sports stories, kids’ stories, or street stories, to suggest a few.

And don’t forget to promote on social media. Your story needs to be a mix of instore and online offerings, where customers can research your product and then have the shopping experience they crave.

Know your crowd

Do you really know who your market demographic is? It’s generally the presbyope, but have you checked who resides in your area? Utilise the Australian Bureau of Statistics, go to quick stats and enter your postcode. You will be surprised at the usable information freely available.

Your millennial target market loves a loyalty program, even just for a free coffee. But sitting at the heart of loyalty or rewards programs is the capture of information like phone numbers, emails and purchase details. A marketing database is crucial and allows you to better understand who you should engage with.

It is important to buy stock based on what your market wants, not purely on your own likes and tastes. Have a strict control of inventory and what is selling. A good way to introduce a more imaginative stock range is to engage younger staff members in purchasing decisions.

Your story is also about your staff. They are your most valuable asset and their impact on your customer’s experience is critical to how your story is received.

Employ staff with a sense of style and character, something that is hard to teach. The Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing can be taught later. Give them a stake in meeting the needs of the customer and challenge them to carry out your current story, as well as developing their own stories too. Your staff must be trained above their pay rate, totally on board with your story and be able to recommend the right lifestyle lenses for the wearer.

A meaningful store experience for your customer is going to be different from store to store. After all, humans are humans. But if you dare to re-imagine a shopping experience that marries discovery and slow shopping with the convenience of online and a personal experience, you will be able to compete.

  • LEIGH ROBINSON is optical dispensing champion, consultant and training facilitator at Spectrum Optical and a teacher of Cert IV in Optical dispensing at RMIT University Melbourne. He conducts optical dispensing short courses, workshops and in-house training options to suit individual practice needs across Australia. Visit: spectrumoptical.com.au