State of the Industry
The independent optometric industry is evolving. We believe change presents opportunity, and we believe in the importance of discussing solutions that ensure the vitality of independent practice. We know:
Staffing and talent are being impacted. The majority of third-year optometry students want to start their careers as independent practice owners, but due to college related debt, only 15 percent actually become owners in their first year. Meanwhile, 500 independent practices close each year as mass market retailers take a larger market share, fueled by large advertising and marketing budgets and strong brand identity.
Technology is driving consumer habits. Consumer trends are driving the way patients purchase. More than half of children under the age of eight have access to a mobile device, yet only 18 percent of ODs are offering e-commerce capabilities and only 24 percent are using social media frequently.
Many retailers gain a significant advantage over independent practitioners. Hip upstarts are migrating the way eyeglasses are purchased with higher levels of convenience and value, which is increasingly important in an uncertain economy.
Healthcare is becoming more commercialized. Patients have become smarter and better informed consumers. We know that consumers prefer independent optometrists for eye exams, but we also know competition for consumer attention, both in retail spaces and online, allows for distraction.
It’s imperative that ODs have a business plan in place to not only compete, but thrive, in an evolving market.
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