By Nancy DeWald,
Lead Up Training & Consulting


Retailing defined: when a business sells a product or service to a consumer for his or her own use.

I often hear “we are not a retailer.” Based on the definition above, we can agree optometry is in the retail business. Once the patient leaves the lane and transitions to the frame gallery, they become a customer.

We need to run our business, accordingly.

Let’s review a couple key elements of retailing.


Inventory Management

  1. Assortment planning: know your demographic and plan your inventory accordingly, while considering some of the nuances of your business. Does your customer base like licensed brands or do they like to be more unique? Do they care about keeping up with the fashion or do they care that the frame is made from recycled product? Excessive amounts of inventory are overwhelming to the consumer and a huge expense to your business. When assorted properly, you can carry less product and never miss a sale. Ideally, carry less brands with more depth in each brand so it has a presence and proper selection to be successful. For example, 20 brands with 25 pieces will feel like you have more selection than 50 brands with 10 pieces.
  2. Launch new brands to quickly gauge their fit in your office. Work with sales reps and always ask to see the bestsellers report. These are already proven. Then select a few of your own. Also ask for support with professional social media posts, graphics, staff education or incentives.
  3. Understand sell through. Track product sales and review monthly. Always have bestsellers on hand and implement a plan to move out slow sellers. For example, changing the location of the product, changing how the product is displayed, 2nd pair promotions, discount, spiff for staff. Clearing out a line is always a better option than switching one frame that does not sell for three frames you do not sell.


Sales Culture

  1. Knowledgeable/trained staff – consumers want help buying eyewear. Set your team up to succeed. Train them on sales skills; at the very least uncovering of needs prior to recommending product. It frustrates me hearing staff selling product without ever understanding how the consumer uses their eyewear. Consumers come in trusting us to take care of their eye care needs. We cannot do that if we do not clearly understand the need. We must ask questions. Feel free to reach out for advice or more insights on this. It is a huge opportunity.
  2. Sales goals. Break your monthly budget down by week and track progress. If you are exceeding your goals, keep doing more of the same. If you are not reaching goals, dig deeper to understand what should be done differently.
  3. Promotion or sales. Plan properly to get a return on your investment of time and money. How you ask, plan the offer, review inventory to support, plan advertising and graphics, educate staff, consider staff incentives or spiffs, plan execution with staff and of course set goals and track progress. For a copy of my promotional planning worksheet, feel free to reach out.


Store design

  1. Clean and clear of clutter; easy to navigate and shop. If you have invested in licensed brands, leverage their marketing, with the rule less Is more.
  2. Your office look and feel should align with your website and social posts. If applicable, highlight the fact that you are a small business, local, share community involvement and philanthropy efforts.
  3. Identify your best retail space and be sure it is generating top dollars; this is where your bestsellers or unique product offerings should be placed. Not the fit overs that you sell to senior cataract patients. (You laugh, I have seen it done).

Story: know your toffee

Recently my niece had me make a stop to pick her up locally made toffee. The candy store was easy to find and full of options. I searched for a while before calling her to ensure I was at the right place. She let me know I had to go to the back corner of the store. Sure enough, this unique and I might add delicious product was tucked away in the back. A little bag of toffee for $9.99 made onsite, so I imagine very profitable. Now, if you have ever worked with me, you know I am always moving around fixtures and changing the retail space. I ask myself; would it be inappropriate for me to start moving fixtures around in their store to put their best kept secret in the best retail space? I did not do it…. yet 🙂

So, I ask you, what is your toffee? What brand do you sell through constantly, what is your profitability on it, what support do you get from the sales representative to ensure you always have the best inventory, is it in your best retail space? How do you market it?