Practice Management

Reframing your dispensary part 2 | Learning from retail and merchandising to your audience

How you present your products, how your patients and customers see what your office carries has a tremendous amount of influence on whether or not your patients become your customers.
Published 3.15.2024

Your optical department consists of, among other things, many different frames aimed at different demographics, sold at different price points, and many serve different purposes.

There isn’t a true industry standard for which frames go where and why, and that’s probably correct. Every office, patient base, staff, and optical departments are quite different and should broadly be treated that way.

In fact, the products you select, how you display them and how you tell the story of YOUR optical is a key differentiator, especially where you may carry the same lines as other practices down the street. How you curate the collections you have can make all the difference.

It's common for the discussion around frames, inventory management, and conversion rates to hover around pricing and affordability. It's a valuable conversation to have, but is it the prevailing factor?

Grey Goose and Pricing

Sidney Frank was a world famous marketer and business man who built an incredible fortune selling adult beverages to a more than willing audience; he first struck gold by positioning Jägermeister as “the best drink in the world” moving the herbaceous alcohol from a specialty brand into mainstream success.

His biggest success, however, came at the age of 77 when he created and began promoting Grey Goose, a French Vodka. Since he had been in the alcohol importing business for decades, Grey Goose did well enough for a product, but not nearly what Frank had expected or wanted.

In a single genius stroke, Frank changed the course of his life and the value of his product. He and his brand managers realized that customers could only discern the quality of vodka by the price.

In an interview with, Frank said of pricing Grey Goose, “The big-selling high-priced vodka at the time was Absolut, which was $15 a bottle. I figured, let's make it very exclusive and sell it for $30 a bottle.” In 2004, Frank sold the Grey Goose brand to Bacardi for $2 billion.

How can this story apply in your optical?

Learning from Retail

There are some ideas that we can apply across all retail stores, and a good place to start learning is your local grocery store. When you walk into your local supermarket, you’re typically greeted with the produce section immediately upon entry; it’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s fresh and it’s engaging, a great first impression.

The dairy case is as far as can be from where you, the customer, entered the store. Why do you think that is?

The store is purposely laid out so that every customer has to walk past all their various departments and endcaps and aisles on their way to what they most likely came to the store to purchase. How do we put this knowledge into practice?

Merchandising is more than just what’s on your boards

How you present your products, how your patients and customers see what your office carries has a tremendous amount of influence on whether or not your patients become your customers. The way your office is merchandised will also influence which products your patients choose.

Think about what your patients see when they enter your optical department. Not just what the frame boards look like or what they consist of; we’re talking about more than the signs or posters that your optical department has hanging.

When thinking about merchandising in your optical, there are a few things to consider, perhaps the most important of which is the flow of your office. How many different ways can your patients and customers enter your optical department?

Many offices have a single entrance into the optical that is off to the side of the front desk while some offices have a rear entrance into the optical that patients enter through after their eye exam.

In either case, the frames that are immediately visible to that patient upon their entry are what make the first impression of your optical department. Theoretically, that place ought to be where the frames you want to feature most reside.

Think of merchandising as a series of impressions with which you'd like to impact your customers and patients. First impressions should pull people in to want to see more, final impressions should leave people satisfied and excited to tell others about their experience, to promote your business for you.

Wrapping Up

Tune in for Part three of Reframing your Dispensary where we'll discuss practice demographics, how opticians create value, and avoiding buyers remorse in your optical department and the rest of your practice.

Steve Alexander
Steve Alexander, Head of Growth
Steve Alexander has been in the eye care industry for over 20 years and has worn many hats including optician, ophthalmic tech, lab tech, practice manager, regional manager, operations consultant, CE certified speaker and other in both private and corporate eye care settings. Over the last 8 years, he has been consulting with practices to find ways to better understand their patients, the ecosystems in which they work, and how to create a practice of which they can be proud. For the last two years, Steve has been Head of Marketing and Partnerships at Anagram, an industry leading tech platform driving change in Eye care with the explicit focus of increasing price transparency, private pay business, and improving the lives of patients and the people who serve them.

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