The Online Optical Marketplace – An Inconvenient Truth
In case you haven’t noticed, virtually everything is going online. The internet revolution completely upended any semblance of the traditional American marketplace. To be fair, the consumer marketplace has been evolving for centuries. As innovations in production, distribution, corporate consolidation, marketing, and travel have shifted, so have our expectations, experiences, communities, and relationships. It’s for you to judge how you feel about all that, but the reality is you probably like some aspects more than others, and have simply adjusted your lifestyle accordingly.
Vermont’s largely rural landscape is both perfect fodder for online retailers as it’s so much easier to shop from the comfort of your couch than to drive 20 minutes to the nearest store, but it’s also an uphill battle against the very real limitations of our telecommunications infrastructure. We’ve been promised high-speed broadband internet service to every last mile for 20 years now, and yet we’re not quite there yet. It could be you just can’t get there from here…
The essential question is, while there is clearly much to gain by the shift to online commerce, what exactly are we losing?
Community, Convenience, or Can You Have Both?
Again, there is so much to celebrate about the internet. It has truly revolutionized the way we do business in many incredible ways. At the same time, there is much to be skeptical about as the internet is further monopolized by fewer and fewer powerful corporations, and the more and more isolated we’ve become from our local communities.
There are countless websites where you can buy eyeglasses online. You don’t have to look any further than Warby Parker, who took the internet by storm in 2010, and changed the way people shop for eyeglasses overnight. Admittedly, there is something compelling about shopping online; there must be, we all seem to do it. At the same time, most of us have returned nearly as many products over the years as we’ve received and kept!
Online optical retailers are designed around exactly that premise; you are supposed to ship product back and forth as much as you want until you find the pair of frames that’s right for you. You stumble your way through some online fitting experience in hopes the frames you choose to try on in 7-10 days are the right fit, and look good.
Is this all just too convenient to pass up, or is a little irritating at the same time? It clearly can’t be the best option environmentally speaking to be constantly shipping product back and forth, that much is obvious, but this kind of convenience has costs in ways that may not be less immediately evident.
The Local Difference
The truth is, online retailers like Warby Parker with their fancy websites and hip catchphrases can’t hold a candle to the hands-on, face-to-face personal experience you get at local opticians like Berlin Optical Expressions. There really is no comparison.
Walk into BOE and you literally have over 1,500 hand-selected, premium eyeglass frames and sunglasses at your fingertips! You have professional opticians working with you one-on-one to help fit any frame in the store to your face, your prescription, your look, and your unique needs.
You don’t have to wait a week between trying one frame on and another, or call a friend to ask how the more intense rectangular frames look on you compared to the sleek aviator style. You don’t have to send the frames back again to have your prescription filled only to finally receive your new glasses three weeks later to find they just don’t fit right. And you don’t have to be without your glasses for any length of time when you need them adjusted, repaired, replaced, or professionally cleaned.
You simply cannot replace direct, professional, caring customer service with superficial convenience and think you’ll be better off in the long run.
Local opticians like Berlin Optical Expressions give back to the community in ways no online retailer can even consider. We are a part of your community. We care about and respond to the needs of our community and our clients. We listen every day to comments and suggestions to improve and enhance our services, and we’re here when you’re seeing spots, when your eyes are red, when your vision is waning, your eyeglasses need repairing, or your prescription needs updating.
Stop by BOE today and see the difference local makes for yourself!