No matter how good your service is, no matter how fantastic your product, the look of your practice is a very vital part of how you are perceived by your patients. While 20/20 would never downplay the importance of providing excellent healthcare and great customer service, part of that service is having a dispensary that reflects an image of high-quality and trust. 

How you display products is many times just as significant as the products themselves. The retailers we interviewed for 20/20’s Retail Design Survey 2008 seem to agree. According to the survey, 52 percent of dispensers say display items were“somewhat useful” for their practice and 41 percent perceived their value as “very useful” (both figures are pretty much the same as last year’s findings).

Because price is top-of-mind more than ever this year for both consumer and retailer, we asked dispensers to describe the wholesale price point of the products they offer. The majority, 51 percent fell into the “moderately expensive” category ($60 to $89). That was followed by “moderate,” 26 percent ($30 to $59). Interestingly, “expensive” ($90 to $119) was the response of 14 percent of respondents followed by “very expensive” ($120 and up) at 7 percent, while only 2 percent responded their product fell into the “inexpensive” (under $30) range, according to the survey. Below we take a look at some of the significant findings from our latest Retail Design Survey.

Looking Good
Point-of-purchase items are a key part of displays in the dispensary. Eighty-two percent of POP in practices are  vendor-supplied. However, 46 percent of merchandising material is created in-house to craft a more customized feel to the dispensary.

The most popular POP materials continue to be such items as countercards (82 percent) and brochures (79 percent), followed by demonstration kits at 62 percent and spin racks at 37 percent. Premium items, including perfume, handbags, books and other accessories, account for 18 percent of POP. DVDs and videos were cited by 15 percent of eyecare professionals. 

Although lenses are a key component of the eyewear package, only 14 percent of display space is dedicated specifically to spectacle lenses, lens treatments or lens-related educational information, which is a slight increase from 10 percent over last year. However, sunglasses and contact lenses are both getting a room of their own, so to speak. According to respondents, 80 percent have a separate area devoted to sunwear and sun lens products, and 85 percent have a separate area for contact lens fitting. Additionally, 70 percent of practice space is devoted to the dispensing area while 18 percent is dedicated to the finishing area, on average.

What do ECPs really want? The types of display, promotional and educational materials dispensers want include such promotional items such as brochures, samples and posters (11 percent) and educational items (7 percent). Although almost a quarter (24 percent) said there are no items they feel are lacking from their location.

Waiting it Out
The waiting area is like your official greeter. It’s the first place to make an impression plus you have a captive audience. Many dispensers who have waiting areas incorporate the waiting room into the dispensary area (57 percent). A waiting area is great place to showcase the frame and lens products you offer as well as other services and procedures your practice may have available. In fact, 27 percent of dispensers with a waiting room say there are videos of products and services playing in their waiting area.

Other popular merchandising materials set up in the waiting room cited by respondents include brochures and educational materials (92 percent), posters and countercards of models in eyewear (54 percent), optical products (35 percent) and optical industry publications, such as 20/20, (35 percent). Additionally, 10 percent responded “other” items such as iPort television, Eyemagnations 3D video system, consumer magazines and art work.

Room and Board
Frame boards remain the number-one way dispensers choose to display their eyewear (an overwhelming 88 percent). This may be because retailers tend to have a large amount of frame units—48 percent have 500 to 1,000 frames in their inventory while 26 percent have more than 1,000, according to the survey. So frame boards afford them a means to showcase a large amount of product. Beyond the frame boards, display cases were a distant second at 20 percent and store-front windows were an even more distant third at only 4 percent. “Other” items, including drawers, counter tops, cabinets, spinners, POP racks and glass shelves, account for 8 percent of product merchandising.

The top categories frames are displayed by were fashion/name brands (77 percent), gender (73 percent) and sunwear (72 percent). Rounding out the product groups are sport (36 percent) and color (8 percent). “Other” categories, such as children’s, Medicaid, insurance, readers and type of material, were cited by 7 percent of dispensers.

Little People, Big World
As cliché as it sounds, kids are indeed the future. Make a good impression with them and you not only make a good impression with the parents but you also give them a positive impression about eyecare as a whole. So it helps to cater to kids when it comes to display and design. A vast majority, 76 percent of practitioners, have a separate section devoted to children (ages two to 14).

The kids’ section in the dispensary usually includes such items as books (54 percent), toys (47.5 percent) and a play area (29 percent) to keep little ones occupied. Child-size furniture (27 percent) and DVDs and videos (14 percent) complete the kids’ section.

Whether it’s kids or adults, looks do count in the dispensary. Never underestimate the power of well-done display and merchandising items in the dispensary. They play a vital role in contending with not just other optical retailers, but all retail competition.