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Consolidation is a trend shaping many industries, including optometry. Competition from large chains and online retailers is a significant challenge for independent optometrists. However, the consolidation creates a market with unique opportunities for Tulsa eye doctors and independent eye doctors nationwide who are willing to focus on what makes them stand out.
Consolidation is creating a multi-faceted challenge
Online retailers and large chains have several significant advantages.
Real estate and marketing footprint
Mergers and acquisitions have resulted in major optical retailers taking over market shares. These chains often have a strong presence with thousands of brick-and-mortar stores.
These stores are highly visible. As a result, they contribute to increased awareness of these brands. Plus, large retailers often invest in marketing campaigns to advertise deals designed to get customers in the door.
Volume and costs
Online retailers and practices in big-box stores have a large enough customer base to lower their costs. In some cases, these retailers also belong to the same corporation as the product manufacturer, so they benefit from lower inventory costs. It can be challenging for eye doctors in Tulsa and nationwide to compete for pricing without these same advantages.
In addition, the current regulatory environment can be challenging, especially for products like lenses that require thorough documentation. While independent practices work hard to meet these requirements, online retailers often get away with cost-cutting practices.
So it’s more important than ever for Tulsa eye doctors and independent optometrists across the country to shop around for inventory discounts and look into other cost-management strategies.
The convenience factor
Major retailers are changing the buying experience. With locations inside big-box stores or malls, getting an eye exam becomes another errand consumers can include in a shopping trip.
And with the rise of online retailers, consumers can order lenses and eyewear at home, a trend that became even more popular during the pandemic.
A growing market
Despite large retailers gaining market shares, the good news for eye doctors in Tulsa and other cities is that optometry is a growing market. Sales increased by 16.5% during Q1 2021 as the industry started recovering from the pandemic.
Multiple factors are creating a higher demand for vision care:
The population is aging. There are currently 46 million people over 65, and this number could reach 90 million by 2050.
Everyone is getting more screentime. Unfortunately, this habit may cause nearsightedness and reduce focus flexibility, even among children and young adults.
There is a growing awareness that vision care matters. As a result, more people focus on preventive care with regular exams.
Opportunities for Tulsa eye doctors and optometrists nationwide
Independent Tulsa eye doctors and independent optometrists nationwide are at a disadvantage in several areas compared to online retailers and major chains. However, this changing market also creates some unique opportunities for smaller practices.
While online retailers and major chains can offer convenience, they often neglect the human factor. With online shopping, patients can go through the entire process of ordering lenses or getting new glasses without any human contact. This experience can feel impersonal. These consumers also miss out on the valuable advice that an optometrist could share.
Major chains offer in-person interactions. However, these chains often focus on numbers. As a result, the overall encounter can be impersonal and fail to make people feel valued.
As an independent optometrist, you can offer a much better experience by focusing on customer service. For example, reaching out to customers for follow-up care will add value to your services and help improve patient outcomes. You can also offer a more personalized experience by taking the time to ask a few questions to tailor your advice.
Stand out with Vision Care Direct
You can also make your practice stand out with the prepaid-vision plans you accept. And as many prepaid-vision providers reduce their reimbursement rates, it’s more important than ever for independent Tulsa eye doctors to partner with the right plan providers.
With Vision Care Direct of Oklahoma, you can join a network of over 600 providers dedicated to offering outstanding customer experience and excellent care. Find out more about partnering with Vision Care Direct.