Extreme makeover: dispensary edition

The way frames are organized and presented in a dispensary has a big effect on how well they sell. Merchandise categories will shrink, expand, or disappear according to the whims of fashion and so should your frame inventory. Otherwise, you risk missing out on sales because you have no room for the hottest new styles. Developing a merchandising plan will help you use what you have more effectively and decide if the time is right for adding or replacing display fixtures or lighting.

Keypoints:

It's a given that you have to keep up with advances in equipment, tools, and techniques on the medical side of your eye-care practice. Your dispensary also has to keep up with the latest styles, colors, and technological advances in merchandise.

Accomplishing a merchandising makeover involves three steps:

Step 1: Replan

The crucial first step is to plan your desired merchandise mix on paper. When merchandise is properly organized, patients and dispensers will be able to find the right style in the right price range quicker and easier. A free, easy-to-follow template for merchandising plans is available at http://www.barbarawrightdesign.com/.

There are two basic approaches to merchandising: by price or by brand. You may choose to mix the two, grouping all your moderate-priced frames together, but presenting your higher-priced frames according to designer name.

Merchandising by price

You must choose which price category-budget, moderate, or high-end-is your primary focus and concentrate the majority of your frames in that price range. Frames in each of those price categories need to be displayed in a different manner so that the patient is able to easily distinguish among them.

One glance in your dispensary should tell a patient whether he or she can expect to find a frame in a desired price range. Budget-priced frames can be crowded together quite closely on a frame board or placed on a rotator. Clear, acrylic, vertical frame bars are good for moderate-priced frames. Higher-priced frames, however, must be given "breathing room" (more space around them) in order to look like they are worth more.

Never show expensive frames on the same display as budget or moderate-priced frames or crowd them together. That diminishes their perceived value.

If your patients are primarily in the budget or moderate price range, it is good to have at least a small selection of higher-quality brand names for those patients who are willing and able to spend more. Offer them a choice; don't force patients who want better quality or more fashion to go elsewhere.