I’ve walked into many independent practices to pick up ideas that others may have and I was stunned by the sheer lack of variety! I was overwhelmed by the dozens of tortoiseshell pantos, small black rectangular glasses and gunmetal titanium. It almost felt like I was being beaten on the head with a mallet.
I set up Spectacle Emporium a little over 1 year now with the intention of promoting quality, craftsmanship and design with an emphasis on colour, styles, materials and innovation. To be different. My name is Janan Choudhury and these are my 5 tips when buying eyewear.
1) Make an impression on your clientele
The savvy 21st century client is avidly researching online about eyewear and prices. Loyalty is no longer solely dependent on a 30 to 40-minute consultation at the back of the store.
You must grab their attention with exciting items that you have at the front of your store – the frames. The eyewear you sell conveys your philosophy clearer than anything else that you provide or possess.
Focus on a handful of brands and ensure that each shine in their own way. Learn about them in detail and impart that knowledge to clientele. This is your platform.
2) Avoid the price-war and be independent
It’s not enough today to proclaim that you are ‘exclusive’ stockists of a brand, which can be found online at ridiculously low prices. Avoid the mire of the “price-war”, it’s a battle of attrition that’s won with the deepest pockets.
You need to seek quality independent eyewear, which often has no UK rep! But with the advent of 100% Optical, we’re seeing brands that weren’t in the UK opticians radar. Seize this chance! You may never see these brands again for another year.
Make this a habit too. Visit trade shows across Europe. Feast your eyes. Discover! Better still, bring dispensing staff along, perhaps they might have a keen eye for design.
3) Buy into lines that reflect your professional services
Reinforce your values on quality of service and knowledge through the collections that you sell! People like consistency. They love a good eye test, so why disappoint them with shoddy frames?!
Aspire! Change your mindset.
You are forging a connection with your client through story-telling and detailing why these frames are special and belong to them. Yes, this is a reprogramming for many but it’s essential in stemming a downward trend in your profits. There are consulting firms that could cater for you and some are exhibiting here.
Check the list of exhibitors at trade shows beforehand, check their websites, have a notepad handy, jot questions down and drink lots of coffee. Make appointments.
You may have a shortlist. I did... of about 20. And there was no way that I would buy into all! So I streamlined the brands into genres, such as classical, avant-garde and contemporary. I narrowed the brands down to a manageable 5-6. Why? It’s great to have a lot of lines of quality eyewear but if they’re the same style, then their individualism is lost! Your store is only so large.
5) Buy deep
The fun begins at the show, seeing the wonderful frames. Instead of meandering, I bee-lined to the brands that I researched. I concentrated my time and effort to the shortlisted few, intent on buying. Then, it was time to BUY! Buy DEEP, and buy NOW! I made the time out of my store, so I made it worthwhile by purchasing at the show… and feeling good about it!
Select a few styles that you have a strong gut feeling about and grab them in different colours. Yes, the obligatory black and tortoiseshell will be high on the agenda but that’s NOT going to pull in the punters. Get that same frame in wildly frivolous colours! Have fun!
Visualise yourself dressing your clients with the most spectacular eyewear that they desire! You are developing a means to capture that elusive client’s complete attention!!!
Why does this all matter? Eyewear is the single most important fashion accessory. Believe that! Convince yourself of that. That mantra must be instilled into every fibre of your body.
You can only go so far with knowledge and service. But without the backing of exquisite hardware, that client will walk out the door in search of something beautiful, somewhere else.
The eyewear your clients choose is ultimately their way of expressing themselves. Likewise, our stores are now a reflection of our personalities and philosophy. What do the frames that you have on display say about you?
Janan Choudhury BSC (Hons) Optom, Director of Spectacle Emporiumm and member of the 2017 VIP Hostedy Buyers Programme.