Right! It’s time to face up to this bête noire, buying your glasses online.
In a way, Euan always feels a little sheepish when discussing this. Euan has often been asked to speak at continuing education conferences about IT, technology and computer geekery, especially when relating to optometric practice. Back in 2002 he was giving a continuing education workshop and talked at length about practices embracing this new technology. He discussed the importance of having a website as a virtual shop-window and about the benefits to practice management, internal communication and electronic health records. He also confidently stated that he did not feel people would buy their glasses online, that it was an inherently tactile process and that this could not be replicated virtually.
What a fool!
Or was he?
Online eyewear purchases are now definitely a factor in the industry, albeit a small percentage of the overall market.
Every optometrist and optician has heard the words, “Can I have my PD?”. As professions built around helping people, answering questions like these are always very difficult to do, without seeming argumentative or adversarial. We are hard wired to want to say, “Yes”. Let us wait for a moment, though, do we not also have a duty to do the best for our patients/clients?
At Ocean Optometry, we think so and we think this is an over-riding factor.
When we dispense a pair of spectacles we try to create as pleasant an experience as possible. There is a nice environment in which to choose your glasses, there is some fabulous music playing, we have sourced the world’s finest eyewear for you to select from and, ultimately, we have experts in eyewear to help facilitate the whole process.
My word, you say, all that’s going to cost a lot – just give me the glasses, that’s what I wear on my face!
You have to remember, though, that ultimately we are a business. Dress it up how you want, but we only will stay in business if people purchase services (eye examinations, eye care, etc) and products (glasses, contacts) from us. As ultimate eye-geeks, we know very well who the competition is, we know what the market is and we know what we have to do. Therefore our prices aren’t extreme or ridiculous, they are competitive, aggressive and, ultimately, fair. Is it fair-trade eyewear? We think so. Is it good value? Absolutely so!
What many people may not realise, though, is that when we dispense eyewear the process is not just a case of picking items off a shelf, we are creating a bespoke, unique and customised finished product – combining frames, prescription, fashion, lifestyle, function and aesthetics.
When we are dispensing eyewear, we don’t take you coldly, step-by-step through the process. Unlike buying glasses online, we don’t ask you to input your prescription and click ‘Next’; we don’t ask for your PD, click ‘Next’; choose your frame, ‘Add to basket’; choose lenses from pre-determined options, ‘Add to basket’; confirm name; confirm address; credit card details the same?; confirm delivery; hope for the best; yada, yada, click, click, click, NEXT!
We involve you.
Choosing eyewear is a harmonious relationship combining so many different factors, or, at least, it should be. As the eyeglasses wearer, you maybe aren’t aware of all of the considerations that our opticians and optometrists go through when helping you choose your eyewear … and that’s great.
Perhaps the online purchasers (if they are still reading) are possibly thinking, “yeah, yeah, yeah, so what, I’ll get the same glasses online and save some cash”. Certainly, that is your choice and we want everyone to be happy with their purchasing decision, so if they are happy, that’s the main thing.
Only, please don’t be surprised if you come to us and ask us to adjust, maintain, sort your glasses that you have purchased elsewhere and find our experts are not willing to do it for free. Please don’t be surprised if your vision isn’t optimal with your glasses ordered without ever trying them on. Please don’t be surprised when we are not excited about the so-so quality of the eyewear you have purchased elsewhere – we could have stocked it, but for many reasons we didn’t.
We realise that this blog post won’t be for everyone. Madness, I know, we should be trying to appeal to as many as possible, except … except … we really love share our enthusiasm for all things eye-geekery with everyone who comes in to Ocean. We will always offer tremendous value, we will always offer fabulous eyewear and we will always value the skill, knowledge, services and dedication of our professionals. Does it cost more? Yes … No … perhaps … but, you know what, it is worth so, so much more.
Do you want your PD? Well, we could do that … but you’d be making a mistake! Just for the record when we dispense eyewear we take measurements of at least four different paramaters. Ordering glasses with just the PD would be like buying tires with only the wheel diameter and hoping that the rest is somehow just right! Of course, with tires it doesn’t really matter about the profile, width or if they’re all-season or winter or summer tires, does it?