Ophthalmology practices might find it difficult to compete with opticians or large retail chains in terms of the number of frames stocked or, at least in some cases, on price. To capture the eyewear business from patients who leave the examining room with a prescription in hand, an inviting, well-lit, colorful display is a must.
The essentials of an optical area are that it be clean, uncluttered, and well lit, agree designers and ophthalmologists with optical departments. Beyond that, there is room for innovation and variation tailored to appeal to the customer base and mirror the atmosphere of the clinical side of the practice.
"The appearance of the optical shop has to be user-friendly," said Lori Estrada, Fashion Optical Displays, Paradise, CA. "Frame boards allow people to browse instead of requiring someone to hand them frames one by one."
Many ophthalmology practices have an older average patient base, so it helps to have a display and dispensing area that accommodates wheelchairs, she added. With an older clientele, a decorating scheme based on warm, appealing motifs rather than a sharp, high-tech look is also advisable.
In every optical shop, a happy medium must be achieved between an attractive, informational display and one that is overly cluttered with props, signs, and other objects, said Dacie Lewis, owner of Bright Display, Mesa, AZ.
First impressions matter
Often, the first impression as patients enter the optical area is an intimidating bank of frames, which may discourage them from staying to make a purchase, said John Boys Smith, MD, of Boys Smith Vision Center, Ellensburg, WA. "The stand has to be attractive, not totally daunting, where patients feel free to pick up some frames and try them on," he said, but emphasized that an experienced optician working with customers on the selection is a must.
And although prescription glasses are seldom an impulse purchase and repeat customers don't drop in every week or two, the displays should be updated regularly. "It is very important to have freestanding displays, so that they can be moved around the office and given a new appearance every month or two," Dr. Boys Smith added.
Displays can be changed seasonally with new props and color changes to highlight themes that draw attention to particular merchandise, such as sunglasses when summer arrives or proper eyewear for students heading back to school. Keeping the appearance fresh is important in high-traffic locales.