Business success in the competitive online eyewear space depends on winning « the trust of buyers » by reassuring them at every stage of the buyer's journey.
No matter if they are fashion seekers, eyewear lovers, replacers or basic choosers, all online eyewear shoppers seek one thing in common, apart from eyewear – reassurance.
The different groups can make a difference for eyewear specialists because it provides insights into the profile of individual shoppers. This enables their fears to be addressed before they arise, so the journey can continue smoothly to purchase.
Such an approach can also provide an edge over competitors because many online stores are failing to meet – let alone exceed – consumer expectations. This distinguishes individual optic specialists and can be a key element in an omnichannel approach.
Some 39% of eyewear shoppers will browse online before making a purchase. A reassuring online experience can convince the shopper to visit the providers bricks-and-mortar store if they decide to buy offline.
There are five critical points within the customer journey where eyewear specialists can intervene to reassure the shopper. Addressing each, improves the ability to win the buyer’s trust.
While all groups seek reassurance, each has different reasons for being uncomfortable when browsing a website. Fashion seekers and eyewear lovers, for example, may be put off by prominent advertising of cheap products (as opposed to discounts or price matching).
Educated buyers may know that more than 10% of prescription eyewear require a return involving a change to the prescription or an adjustment to the glasses. An online store that fails to clearly explain its return policy will lose such a buyer instantly.
Identifying the shopper early in the journey means the site can be adopted so the products displayed are more closely honed to match the profile. Fashion seekers and eyewear lovers, for example, would be presented with a more varied upmarket range of products, compared to the replacers or basic shoppers.
Other subtle and not-so-subtle visual cues that can be tweaked include the design of the site, as well as its colors, availability and depth of information to create a reassuring experience for each profile. Some 9% of shoppers say appealing product photos can also sway their purchasing decision.
And the online store needs to function seamlessly across all devices. This is particularly important with 55% of all traffic visits being made from mobile devices.
The online experience is different from the bricks-and-mortar shop because the item under consideration is not physically present. User experience solutions such as model try-ons and user immersion overcome the absence of physical eyewear. Shoppers also value the immediacy of the online experience, the greater product and the possibility to browse and compare products.
FitMix from FittingBox, for example, enables shoppers to turn their screen into a virtual online (VTO) mirror in real time via webcam. While shopping for a new pair of frames, users can try near-unlimited options with their image either streamed via webcam or from an uploaded photo.
To enhance such a user experience, online sites need to provide helpful tips on how to select the best product in terms of visage, aesthetics and health factors to reassure shoppers they are making the right choice. They should advise how frames involves more than style, including how to select one that matches individual faces using the measurements lens width, bridge width and temple arm length.
The entire online catalogue can be structured around such "helpful" hints, which will then enable shoppers to discover the offerings available on the site.
After identifying the profile, the shopper can be directed along a path where the online catalogue they browse matches their preferences.
Research has shown that the majority of online shoppers (50-55%) want to make the final decision themselves, another 35-40% want to be inspired, while 15% just want to replace their frames. Yet, no matter what level of decision independence desired, all benefit from professional know-how concerning their vision or morphology.
By tailoring the advice on trends, fashion, styles and material to match the profile, the online optician reassures the shopper and guides them on the progress of the buying journey. Product recommendation engines are a vital feature of this. The Amazon experience means shoppers expect personalized recommendations and the benefits for e-retailers are indisputable.
Dynamic product recommendations send the right personalized message to the right shopper at the right time.
This helps optimize product discovery, creates a better customer experience and results in higher conversion rates.
A study by SalesForce found shoppers that clicked on recommendations are 4.5x more likely to add items to cart, and 4.5x more likely to complete their purchase.
Wish lists are another essential part of the user experience because they are an easy way for shoppers to remember a product. In this sense, wish lists are the middle ground between forgetting and purchasing, a reference point for returning shoppers to later continue with the purchase.
Social sharing can help to move shoppers move through the buyer journey. One way to empower the customer on this path is through lens simulation, optical measurements and other virtual try-on technologies.
On average, manufacturers create four colors per eyewear frame, but opticians typically stock only 1.5 due to the cost of goods. Shoppers in a physical store often want to try a specific frame style but are disappointed when the optician doesn’t have their desired color or lenses.
As with FitMix for frames, the digital world offers ready solutions for lenses. Lens Simulator, a solution provides an ultra-realistic try-on experience of virtual lens. Using this augmented reality solution, shoppers virtually try on lens and coating suggestions as if on their own face, given them power over their purchasing decisions.
Further, all shoppers for corrective frames need measurements with a 0.5 mm accuracy, so buyers also need reassurance that any purchase will accurately match their needs. This is particularly relevant for 24% of consumers with progressive lenses, who represent 65% of the turnover of opticians.
FitMetrix, another solution from FittingBox, lets shoppers easily measure their pupillary distance (PD) and mono PD. It only requires a camera and a standard card with a magnetic stripe. After taking a selfie with the card, the shopper can send the image to the e-retailer who can assess all key measures with an algorithm.
Such innovative approaches empower shoppers and reassure them they remain in control of the buying process. For e-retailers, such methods can result in significantly improved conversion rates. Shopping carts are abandoned up to 60% less with FitMetrix and products returns have also been shown to decrease significantly.
A slow, clunky checkout process causes shoppers to bounce. A complex process does the same. In a recent consumer study, 87% of online shoppers said they would abandon their checkout trolley if the process was too difficult. Some 55% said they would never return to the retailer's site.
For this reason, the buying process must be fast, easy and secure. Long checkout loading times usually result from poor programming or website design. Keep checkout processes short and more shoppers will complete more purchases.
The average e-commerce store in the United States loses over 70% of sales to cart abandonment. One significant reason is hidden costs, with shipping being a big factor. Most e-commerce eyewear sites realize this and make it clear what the price of delivery will be.
Even better, many offer free shipping above a specific price bracket, which is a major incentive for 73% of online shoppers, according to an E-tailing Group study. But again, it is a matter of trust. When consumers know the full price upfront that builds trust to the online optician and keeps them on your site.
Upselling on lenses and coatings is also a justifiable strategy. Retailers need to be cautious, however, to only recommend the most useful and legitimate options, for customers, such as scratch resistant coating. Offer too much and the shopper can be deterred. That is why transparency on lens and frames pricing are imperative.
Eyewear are very personal products. Online shoppers need assurance that if they make a purchase that they don’t like, doesn’t fit or the lenses are misaligned that they can return the item.
An estimated 22% of returns are due to a product appearing differently in reality than it does in a picture. When people know the return and refund policy, they are reassured and there's one less reason NOT to buy, so it is essential to be upfront and transparent on returns. Eyewear companies that offer flexible returns sooth customer fears and inspire repeat orders.
Bricks-and-mortar optical stores will continue to dominate the eyewear industry for the foreseeable future, but the online business will make inroads even as the market continues to expand. To succeed online opticians will need to stand out from an increasingly saturated market and establishing trust in your online store is the basis for success.