More U.S. consumers are supporting local businesses, including optical customers
More Americans than ever were willing to “Shop Small” this year, according to projections and initial data from this year’s Small Business Saturday. Held two days after Thanksgiving — and the day after Black Friday — Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 as a way to encourage customers to support local businesses, which can help create jobs, boost the economy, and preserve neighborhoods.
The campaign has gathered steam each year. In 2016, 72 percent of U.S. consumers were aware of the day, and an estimated 112 million consumers reported shopping at small businesses, spending an estimated $15.4 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to survey results from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express. This marks a 13 percent increase from 2015.
But shopping small goes beyond just one day. At a time when an increasing number of consumers are shopping online, many still choose to spend their money at local small businesses. Here are some things you can do to encourage your patients and customers to support your eye care practice.
1. Leverage social media
From November 1-26 last year, there were nearly 250,000 social media posts combined on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSat and/or #DineSmall, reported NFIB. “Posts included consumers showing their love for their favorite small businesses, business owners raising awareness for promotions and activities,” as well as government officials and celebrities showing their support for their favorite small businesses.
There are many ways to foster support for your practice online. Post a sign in your office or a banner on your practice’s website or Facebook page asking customers to share their love for your business on social media. Make it even easier by simply asking people to retweet posts by you or your staff. Up the engagement by making it into a contest. Here are some examples:
Every customer counts for a #smallbusiness like ours. Give us a shout-out on social if you love your #eyewear! #Grateful #ShopSmall #TisTheSeason
We think our customers are SPEC-tacular. Retweet if you love someone who wears glasses! #YourNeighborhoodOptical #ShopSmall
Share a selfie wearing your favorite pair of glasses for a chance to win a Starbucks gift card! Tag your posts #ShopSmall
Consider creating a specific hashtag for your practice and/or contest, such as #RendiaSelfie.
2. Appeal to style-savvy shoppers
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: appearance matters in our style-obsessed culture. For customers used to the high-end Starbucks aesthetic, Target’s collaborations with top fashion and home designers, and Warby Parker’s commoditization of hip eyewear, a certain level of style-savvy is not only appreciated, it’s expected. Is your optical keeping up? From your waiting room to your window displays, make sure you’re projecting an image of modern décor, up-to-date technology, and unique product offerings to set your practice apart from the competition.
To learn how your optometric practice can stay competitive with brands like Warby Parker, download our newest eBook, Five Ways to Boost Optical Sales in the Age of Online Retailers.
3. Remind patients to use or lose their FSAs
Some patients with flexible spending accounts may not realize that these tax-free dollars may expire at the end of the year. Or, they may not know that FSA-eligible expenses include an annual eye exam, prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses, over-the-counter reading glasses, contacts, and contact lens care products. Show patients this video or share it on social media to encourage them to spend their FSA funds at your practice: FSA or HSA to Pay for Eye Care
Shopping small is a trend that’s here to stay, and will reshape the retail landscape in the future, according to Pamela N. Danziger, author of Shops That POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success. “Specifically, demographic shifts — with both aging baby boomers and young millennials looking for a more personal shopping experience, as well as heightened expectations from affluent consumers — will favor the special services and products that only local small businesses can provide.”