Opticians And Wearable Technology: Are they ready?

Opticians And Wearable Technology: Are they ready?

Silmo 2021 saw the launch of RayBan Stories by Rayban and Facebook. There were other interesting products like Engo and Ellcie-Healthy too. And this has raised an important question among many in the industry. For a product like this, where technology is a major part of the product, will opticians be able to sell this to their end consumer?

We asked some opticians if the optician community in general was prepared for adding this segment of wearable technologies to their existing portfolio with a product that requires technological know-how and selling skills.

Here are some responses from prominent opticians

Amman Kumar,R Kumar Opticians

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On the retail front we receive queries regularly for wearables, especially after Bose launched their sunglasses.  We have been looking at wearables for some time. 

We did try to negotiate with a global brand for their wearables too. But the key challenges were that margins are typically less than 5% and it needs upfront investment.

The other challenge is having to be at the mercy of the brand for after sales service. We are known for our after sales service and that’s how opticians work. We normally take the responsibility of getting all the repairs and replacements for our customers. But as that’s not how the electronic market works, we were worried about not living up to the customer’s expectations.

Apart from that I really don’t see any significant challenge.  We have sold MP3 players in Oakley sunglasses way back in the early 2000s.

And to add an interesting fact about wearables, I have seen my grandfather’s inventory with spectacle mounted radio and bone conduction hearing aids mounted in temples. So wearables in eyewear aren't really new to opticians.

Sanjay Tekchandani,Vision 2020

I feel opticians will be able to sell these frames and sunglasses. Sunglasses are a lifestyle product, but we can convert them to frames.

Ray-Ban is a big brand, and we already have a lot of enquiries

Shailender Singh, Dr Monga Opticians

I would be more than happy to dispense wearable and am definitely ready for it. However if you are talking about the overall industry I foresee a few challenges. First is that not every optician is geared to understand the use case scenario and the potential of this segment.

Secondly there's a requirement of physical space at the store to provide the consumer an experience to feel and enjoy the product before purchase. This space could be a challenge for opticians.

Another point to note here is whether the brands themselves looking at opticians as a mode of sale for these products? In my opinion, they would already be planning  primary method and look at opticians as a secondary mode of sale. I could be wrong but that's
my opinion.

I also feel that the consumer has evolved and might go to one place to experience the product and then finally pick it up from his optician. If this is the case then I feel this would make it viable for opticians to dispense this product.

So to answer your question, I am ready.. I am not sure if all opticians are ready.. but my question to you is 'Are the brand's ready?

Kunal Shah, EyeSavers

These are exciting products both for the consumer as well as the optician. As an optician I am looking forward to having these products in our store. In terms of selling, I would look into the two important aspects.

One would be the fitting and prescription aspect and that’s where, we as opticians are well equipped. Second would be the technology part. In terms of understanding and selling that would not be a major challenge. In fact a lot of mobile sellers have no idea of what goes into mobile in terms of technology and they are still able to sell them with comfort.

The only challenge would be on the technology front in case a problem has to arise with the functioning. But then the same challenge would be for any one. It’s a learning curve. In my opinion, if we have to make these technologies available to the masses, opticians certainly have a larger role to play in this.

Karnel Singh Bhatti, Eyevoke Opticals and Vision Care Pvt Ltd

It’s the new era of technology, which will play a vital role in the retail optical sector. Day by day the customer is getting more tech-savvy, and we, as opticians, need to adapt to this new era and evolve.

This will gear us up for the new leap in the optical sector. Yes! This product range of wearable technology can definitely be sold at opticians. Even opticians need to evolve themselves and their own skills as per market demand. We are ready to see more tech-savvy products in optical stores.

Abhinav Maharwal, The Eye Destination

When progressive lens technology first appeared in the market, everyone was concerned whether a general optician would be able to sell them ? For a long time, yes it remained a niche product but not anymore.

So I don't think it would be a challenge for opticians to sell these technology products. But yes, it will remain a niche product initially like all new brands and technologies and then slowly the entire market will start to adapt to them.

As far as companies like Engo & Ellcie-Healthy are concerned they seem to be focussed on online sales for  better reach in minimum investment for now but as and when these technologies become more popular, optician's would become important channel partners for better reach and customisations. It would be like selling mobile phones in an optical store.

Priyanka Dedhia, Classic Vision

​​Of course, we can safely say opticians in India can definitely sell wearables. Our eyewear industry accepts technology very well. So selling will not be tough for us but there are many pros and cons to this technology as camera recording is also a feature which may not be accepted well by buyers as there can be a breach of privacy.

But that said as Opticians selling a product which is advanced in technology is quite easy as everybody wants the next new thing
in the market. Especially for us at Classic Vision we welcome technology warmly and are always the first to promote it.

This is evident in our store's ambience and the range of products we sell. Many of our products are quite futuristic and go beyond the scope of a regular optical outlet.

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