Easy-to-implement defensive tactics can help stop shoplifting from biting into your profits

March 15, 2008

The vast majority of dispensing ophthalmology practices in the United States use an "open shelf" method of displaying frames. Open shelf display means that the merchandise is available to customers to browse freely and to try on without the assistance of a salesperson. Open shelf collections also present drawbacks, the most obvious of which is theft.

The vast majority of dispensing ophthalmology practices in the United States use an "open shelf" method of displaying frames. Open shelf display means that the merchandise is available to customers to browse freely and to try on without the assistance of a salesperson.

Other less radical methods of inventory loss prevention are available to the dispensing ophthalmologist.

Glass-topped dispensing tables

Many dispensary managers use such tables as part of a winning strategy. They display the optical shop's most expensive merchandise there and present it as the first the customer considers. One caveat: Should the optician need to get up from the dispensing table for any reason, he or she must lock the display.

Locking merchandise displays

Two makers of dispensary display furniture, Eye Designs and Fashion Optical Displays, are well aware of the industry's shrinkage problem. Each company approaches the challenge in a different way.

Eye Designs displays use individual frame holders that lock. An optician using a simple key-type device can easily open the lock.

Fashion Optical Displays employs locking rod devices. Using a key-type device, the optician frees up an entire row of frames by unlocking the rod.

The important thing is that both systems allow the optician to control the number of frames a customer has access to without impeding the customer's view of the frame from the front or sides.

Other lockable displays are available as well, such as tower displays, tabletop displays, and frame boards with rolling glass windows. One or more of those displays could be appropriate for your dispensary, depending on the magnitude of shrinkage or desire to control customer access to all or portions of your frame collection.

Other tactics to consider

Further practical steps you can take to reduce shrinkage:

Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist, slated for release by the American Academy of Ophthalmology this summer. He can be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com
, or through the company's Web site, http://www.adegennaro.com/.