So a reader has asked us a question that has been an issue for retail optical websites for years. Do we link to manufacturer websites?
No matter how big or small your store or practice is, you want your customers and patients to know you will do just about anything you can to help them see better and look better. While you might only carry half a dozen styles from this line of eyewear or that, you want your customers to know you can get them any of the dozens or even hundreds of other styles and colors that line makes, instantly expanding your inventory.
Instead of taking or copying and resizing dozens, hundreds, or in the cases of some eyewear companies, thousands of images to place on your websites in neat little rows, why not just link to that company’s website and let them do all the heavy lifting for you? You no longer have to worry about what models or colors and discontinued. You no longer have to worry about what new styles are being offered. Each manufacturer does the work for you.
Instead of showing the hundreds of styles and colors on your frame boards, your potential inventory is now many thousands of styles and colors, fitting just about every conceivable taste and budget. You have instantly expanded your potential inventory exponentially.
The correct answer, however, is to not succumb to temptation.
Sell What You Own
You have spent many tens of thousands of dollars to inventory your store. Hopefully you researched each brand and style for what appeals to your customers (not you) and keep a handle on inventory turn. Those frames are all taking space and collecting dust. The faster you sell what you own, you can pay yourself and your employees. You can also become a better buyer. Why encourage your customers to purchase something that isn’t in your showroom? That’s another purchase you have to make, shipping you have to pay, and risk you have to take the customer might not like it in person and you are stuck with the frame.
Find A Nearest Dealer
You have a store that you pay rent on every month. You have filled that store with beautiful décor and furnishings, all of which cost you money. You stocked this store with great eyeglasses and sunglasses. You have a staff of people who get a paycheck every couple of weeks no matter how many exams or sales you make. You spend money marketing your name and your store or practice in your corner of your city. You spent money creating a hopefully good website and everything has come together for someone typing in your URL and looking at your website. You now send them to the manufacturer’s website. What happens when that website has a nearest dealer locator? You stand the chance of losing that patient or customer to someone else who happens to be half a mile more convenient…POOF…. gone to your competitor.
Who Will Make The Sale
Perhaps that manufacturer website doesn’t have a nearest dealer locator. What if you are the only dealer for 30 miles in any direction? You are not out of the woods yet. How many of the eyewear manufacturer websites sell directly to the consumer? I don’t care how good your reputation is in your marketplace when someone is looking at buying directly from the manufacturer, there is always greater trust in product quality.
This is not a rant about manufacturers or a competitor being closer. They like you are in the business of trying to make a dollar or two selling what you sell too. The consumer cares about what is most convenient and cost-effective for them. They will forget that you introduced them to this frame style or color faster than they can type the characters of the credit card into the shopping cart of wherever they choose to buy from in less time than it took you to read this sentence.
You spend a tremendous amount of time and money building and marketing your business. The idea is to do what you can to get your patients and customers to buy from you, today. When you send them elsewhere, you possibly delay that purchase or more likely lose that purchase to someone else.
And that is why you don’t link to manufacturer websites.
Have a question about your optical website? Write us here. We are happy to answer your question publicly or anonymously.