Six Design Tips to Help Maximize Dispensary Sales

Make your optical shop more profitable by showing patients you have something for everyone

The look and feel of your dispensary has a direct effect on the overall income and bottom-line profits of your practice. This area deserves extra thought and attention during the planning process. Patients want and expect a good selection of frames presented with fashion appeal. Will the look of your dispensary put them in a buying mood or make them walk out the door? These tips will help make your new dispensary more effective.

Photo Caption: This dramatic optical shop is actually part of a new ophthalmology building in Palo Alto, CA. Cubicle showcases put the focus on high fashion frames.

1. Demographics count.

You can probably give a fairly good demographic description of your typical patient ”for example: female, age 35-50, married, white-collar professional, family income $80K. However, within your local zip code you likely have a number of different neighborhood lifestyle groups with a variation of ages, income and interests. To create maximum sales your dispensary should appeal to all the major lifestyle groups in your area.

Now I'm revealing to you one of my "secret weapons" that I use in designing offices to help me understand who your patients are. Knowing their lifestyle preferences, income, age levels and such enables me to design just the right style and color scheme that appeals to nearly all who live in any given zip code.

My secret weapon is a website called "My Best Segments" featuring free demographic information from Claritas, a world leader in demographics and customer segment profiling. They have taken a mountain of data on consumers, filtered it into cohesive lifestyle groups and given them each a clever name like Money and Brains, Bohemian Mix, Kids & Cul-de-sacs, etc.

Enter a zip code on their website and up pops the top five groups living in that zip code. You click on each group name to find out more specific information such as income, average number of kids, education, favorite restaurants and TV shows, sports they like, even the make and model of car they are likely to drive!

Think of My Best Segments as a "photo album" of consumer markets. Each of the Claritas market segments has its own page that displays a snapshot of the segment's demographic traits, lifestyle preferences and consumer behaviors. You may discover that you have a higher income group in your market area that you are missing out on. The right dispensary design can help you attract and sell those people.

Did I mention that all this great information is FREE? Try it for yourself at this website:

2. Differentiate price points by how frames are displayed.

Photo Caption: Frame bars and glass shelves give patients a visual cue that this is where they ™ll find more affordable frames.

Lower priced frames can be crowded together on frame bars or rotators. Glass shelves are good for middle-priced frames, but high-end frames should be shown off in locking showcases with bright built-in lighting. Leave some empty space around high fashion frames so they look more exclusive and special.

Many practices are faced with the problem of how to display $60 insurance frames and $600 designer frames (along with everything in between) in the same optical showroom without making patients afraid they can' ™t afford you or unsure that you have the designer brands they want. The solution is to display them in distinctly different ways using distinctly different materials.

3. Make high fashion frames the focal point.

Use the finest materials (such as stained wood or marble) for the high fashion showcase and center it on one wall so it will be the first thing you notice in the optical. Patients who want the best and are willing to pay for it will be immediately drawn to it.

Cost-conscious patients will notice the high-end area first, too, but then they will glance around for frames that look more affordable. They will find them easily on the frame bars or shelves. This design strategy insures that you will capture all the high-end sales possible without losing the lower or middle segments of your market. 

4. Increase efficiency with a separate frame delivery area.

For a small office two or three styling tables that double as delivery tables usually suffice. When you are moving to a new space larger than 3,000 square feet a separate frame delivery counter keeps the styling tables unencumbered by pick-ups.

A frame delivery area can be as simple as a window in the lab with a narrow stand-up counter or as elaborate as a long table with multiple chairs and an adjustment/repair work counter hidden from the patient ™s view.

Photo Caption: A wall display for accessories invites additional purchases when patients pick up frames. Hidden behind the wall on the left, a small adjustment and repair counter saves steps for opticians.

5. Put patients in a buying mood with lighting.

Photo Caption: A wall display for accessories invites additional purchases when patients pick up frames. Hidden behind the wall on the left, a small adjustment and repair counter saves steps for opticians.

Next time you see an attractive new jewelry store take a look at the lighting. In the ceiling you will see either round œcan  lights or rectangular fluorescent lights that provide the general lighting. Then look at the display cases, which will have built-in strip lighting or track lighting overhead. You ™ll see that the brightest lighting is aimed directly on the merchandise.

Eyewear is like jewelry for the face. Your dispensary should employ the same layered lighting approach “just enough general lighting for walking around and brighter (usually halogen) lighting directed on to the frames. If you use any fluorescent lighting the lamps should be color-corrected to blend with the halogen display lighting.

The color rendering qualities of the lighting should be close to true white (not too cool and not too warm) so patients can see the subtle colors and details of the frames. Good lighting enhances the perceived value of the frames. Professional advice on lighting and dispensary design is a must if you want maximum sales from your dispensary.

6. Use feature displays to highlight special frames.

A feature display is a small surface where you display one, two or three special frames. It can be a simple pedestal with acrylic top for security, a tabletop or a small counter. An adjustable halogen lighting fixture above enables you to aim the lighting accurately to make the merchandise come to life.

Most often you ™ll want to show your newest and most expensive frames in a feature display. Keep the display props to a minimum and let the frame be the star. Feature displays are helpful for staff as well as patients. Encourage your staff to change feature displays monthly so everyone is alerted to what' ™s new.

Whether you are moving or remodeling get some professional advice on the design of your new optical. An experienced optical designer can help you spend your construction budget on the things (like state of the art lighting) that will bring you the highest return on your investment. Turning your dispensary into a œmini-department store  with different merchandising sections and types of displays is the best way to show patients that you have something for everyone at a glance.

Photo Caption: A single designer sunglass frame with its matching case is all that ™s needed to command attention in this pedestal showcase. The locking removable acrylic top keeps it secure.

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The Optical Office Design Experts

Barbara Wright Design - Turning Dreams Into Designs