How consumers buy goods has changed significantly in the last ten years as they continue to expect, and demand increased convenience and the ability to shop when and how they want to. The current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this existing trend of increased digital shopping and direct-to-consumer shipping. CooperVision® offers technology to help you make the contact lens purchasing experience convenient for your patients while at the same time helping you retain contact lens revenue in your practice. LensFerry® is a secure, cloud-based commerce solution that gives your patients the convenience they have come to expect—being able to order lenses from their doctor on their phone, computer or tablet, and receive shipments at their door.
We’re joined in this interview by Chris Wolfe, OD to get his perspective on what value LensFerry® has brought to his practice, both in pre-COVID times and in the current reality. Dr. Wolfe is a fellow in the American Academy of Optometry, a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry, and was named the Young Optometrist of the Year for the American Optometric Association in 2016. He practices at Exclusively EyeCare® in Omaha, Nebraska.
When did you first hear about LensFerry?
Dr. Wolfe – I first heard about LensFerry from a colleague of mine, Ashely McFerrin. Her personal testimonial about the value of LensFerry in providing improved practice efficiency and enhanced convenience for patients was intriguing to me. I also liked the idea that it provides an omnichannel option for me to stay in touch with patients.
How do you typically leverage LensFerry in your practice?
Dr. Wolfe – It’s really my staff that lead the conversation about LensFerry. During the conversation about purchasing contact lenses they offer our patients the options of buying an annual supply or paying for their lenses throughout the year and receiving them by direct shipping to their home if they desire. If the patient does not purchase an annual supply, they will receive a text message (via LensFerry) for a follow up order to replenish their contact lens supplies. In general, patients are really receptive and appreciate the convenience of this option.
What type of return on investment have you seen since you implemented LensFerry in your practice?
Dr. Wolfe – Approximately 10% of my contact lens sales are through LensFerry, so the service is more than paying for itself. However, the biggest value of LensFerry to me is that it allows the patient to buy lenses how they want. By making things convenient for the patient we’ve built increased patient loyalty. The second biggest value to me is the increased staff efficiency that it has enabled. In the past, our staff would spend a significant amount of time taking phone calls for contact lens orders and fulfilling them. With LensFerry their time can now be used for more value-added services and cross-training opportunities.
Due to COVID-19, most industries have seen an acceleration in the trend of online sales and direct shipping options. What changes have you seen in utilization of LensFerry tools in your own practice over the past few months?
Dr. Wolfe - Most recently our practice was only open for emergent and urgent care. We leaned heavily into digital tools like LensFerry, and became more proactive in using LensFerry and direct shipping options to get our patients the lenses they needed. Having this tool available really helped with generating cash flow in this critical time when our patient volume and in-store purchases were greatly reduced.
Are you seeing patients that employed more traditional models of CL purchasing (picking up boxes at the practice) being more interested in direct shipping and online purchasing?
Dr. Wolfe - Absolutely! There’s been a significant increase in interest in direct shipping options and the increased convenience of digital contact lens ordering tools like LensFerry®. Our new patients love it and we will be leveraging more fully going forward. Let’s face it, right now most people don’t want to leave their homes and go shopping unless they need to, and when they must, they want to make the fewest stops and be as efficient as possible. We’re delighted to have the technology to be able to help patients buy how they want in this new normal.
Additionally, there are significant practice benefits including more regular cash flow from contact lens sales and a higher percentage of contact lens revenue capture. Even more importantly, this purchasing option will be much more efficient for both the practice and patients in the post-COVID world of social distancing and increased demand for sanitation and PPE.
Many industries are expecting a change in consumer behaviors even once things get more back to normal. When you look into your crystal ball, how do you anticipate patient buying habits changing once your practice is reopened?
Dr. Wolfe - I believe patients are going to be more loyal to local businesses like independent optometrists. They are also going to value convenience and will be loyal to businesses that make things convenient for them. I think we’re going to see less shopping around as consumers start to place a higher value on convenience and “one-stop shopping” than lowest price.
What would you say to your colleagues who do not have an online contact lens store in place and are hesitant to explore this digital model of contact lens selling?
Dr. Wolfe - This is what your patients want. Even if you don’t like the model, do it for your patients. Providing service for your patients builds loyalty and makes you more competitive. In the “new normal” we’re seeing that not everyone wants to come inside a physical location for goods and services when there are alternatives.
For more information about LensFerry® and our other business services from CooperVision to help support your growth and help retain patients and practice revenue go to https://coopervision.com/practitioner/practice-building/coopervision-advantage or talk to your CooperVision sales representative.