As an eyewear business, your frame inventory is one of your biggest assets. It is directly tied to your profits and can hurt your profits if mismanaged. When you start treating your frame boards like valuable real estate, you will see the difference it makes to continuously track which frames sell and in how much time.
Trying to grow your business? Research, tracking, and analytics drive effective inventory management. So here are four ways you can turn thought into action and direct your energy into these areas in your business.
1. Do your research
Based on age, gender, income, and employment, you should be able to put together a list of needs to be met for this audience. For example, are there families with children who need glasses, and does your practice have children's glasses? Stocking frames that have been specifically designed to a child’s unique proportions is important to parents seeking quality care. Collections like the LOOKKINO collection from LOOK provide high-quality frames designed specially for younger wearers.
The designs, prices, and brands of frames you choose will depend on what your audience is willing to spend, what season you’re selling in, and what age groups your clients fall into. High-end frames represent better quality; your audience may be willing to spend more if they see the value of the frames.
To arrive at an initial number of frames to order, divide the number of your annual prescriptions by three. This number will change and likely vary by specific frames as popular frames sell out. Make note of these popular sellers and keep them in stock frequently, with some variations.
2. Create consumer personas
Based on two to three combinations of major demographics in your area, create fictitious personas that detail who your potential clients are. Give them names and backgrounds such as work, income, level of education, and hobbies. The more detail you give them, the easier it becomes to provide solutions and meet your consumer’s needs. Your personas should represent different segments of your target audience, so you can give yourself the best idea of how to meet a varied selection of needs.
Always keep these personas in mind and share them with your employees in order to acquaint them with your audience. Keep in mind that you may need to create new personas if the area demographics change, and after two to five years it is likely that all of your persons need some updating.
3. Research your competitors
Scope out the competition by visiting other eyewear practices and noting what they do well. While they may do many things worse than your practice, focus on what you can improve rather than how you have already “won.” The goal is to be constantly improving and evolving with your target audience. Are there high-end practices near yours? How do they make walk-ins feel welcome?
Keep an eye on frame designs and what other competitors consistently stock to have an idea of bestsellers in your area, or use your own historical sales data if you have it. Seeing what is popular in other practices may be important to deciphering what people in your area are interested in seeing in your practice. If you see there is a need going unmet, such as for bolder and more colorful frames, consider stocking your practice with collections that specifically meet that need. Brands like UDM and Mad in Italy are known for their unique frames, adding something special to any offering.
Optimize your inventory by keeping track of popular frames, bestsellers, and quick sellers per season to accommodate customer needs. There will be some basics that stay in stock because they sell well, and some seasonally popular frames that you should keep in limited stock to meet that demand. When you encounter stock of frames that have not sold, consider offering these frames at a discount when purchased as a second pair; and remember selling “stale” inventory at a slight discount will still be more profitable than trying to exchange it with your vendor.
4. Renew your current frame boards and swap out non-sellers
As much as your frame boards might look nice, they should be updated regularly to remove old and underselling frames. Your frame boards should be tracked for how long each frame goes unsold to optimize your offering. This kind of careful tracking will be the difference in how your boards sell through. It will also provide you with a significant amount of data that you can use for future stocking decisions.
Keep your offering fresh with additions of new frames every six months. The frames you have should be organized by brand or by fit in your boards. Frames and lenses with specific features such as blue-light blocking may also be relevant to your audience and should be advertised with samples for your audience to see the difference for themselves. Many brands such as L.G.R offer tinted lenses, which is a popular choice among younger consumers. These specialty lenses should also be advertised with frames that have the lenses in for try-on.
Avoid inventory creep with digital tracking and following a formula for stocking frames. You can also do this by mindfully reducing the number of frame vendors you work with to just those you have a great relationship with and frames that sell well so that you can focus on those relationships and grow rather than attempt to keep up with many frame vendors at once. Consider choosing the vendors you work with by how they are able to handle your volume of requests as well as how well they communicate with you.
We’ve covered a lot of info here. To summarize:
- Don’t let stale stock linger, and have a plan for your frame boards to change frequently.
- Track your inventory and sales digitally for accountability and ease of access. Don’t use too many frame vendors.
- Get to know your competitors and your audience. Give your audience personas with details.
There is always more to discover with Villa Eyewear. Subscribe to our email newsletter for more valuable eyewear practice tips and resources.