If you are reading this, you’ve likely decided to move forward with eCommerce or have the goal to improve your existing online store.
Expanding your eCommerce strategy makes sense in today’s environment. According to Research and Markets, the global eyewear market is forecasted to grow to over $170 billion by 2027, with online channel sales expected to propel much of that growth.
Additionally, many clinics and retail providers use their eCommerce stores to expand their business model beyond brick-and-mortar, increase profit margins, and appeal to a larger audience.
While today’s eCommerce platform options can deliver a robust online shopping experience, eyewear eCommerce comes with unique requirements that are easy to overlook.
This article will cover high-level platform options, relevant components for the eyewear category, and the primary considerations you need to make to build a successful eCommerce website.
Even if you are optimizing, keep reading to learn more about components and features that can vastly improve your website’s overall experience and journey.
Picking an eCommerce Platform
eCommerce platforms have become very robust in the past decade, with options catering to merchants of all sizes and individual business needs like integration into existing systems, front-end customization, localization, and omnichannel strategy.
Your eCommerce platform options depend on your sales and inventory volume, front and back-end customization needs, and where you plan to conduct business. It’s also worth accounting for the unique content and applications specific to eyewear eCommerce that you want to include in your shopping experience.
Some businesses may require a custom platform if they sell in huge volumes (several hundred million dollars or more of annual sales) or are large conglomerates supporting many banners.
Webflow, Squarespace, and Wix are known as cost-friendly, easy-to-adopt options, especially for smaller businesses with limited development and IT resources. While these are not solely designed for eCommerce, they include a variety of retail templates, built-in, plug-and-play online store and marketing features, and offer enterprise plans. Unfortunately, these platforms limit front and back-end development, which could restrict your ability to add integrations and customizations (we’ll get to those a little later).
Shopify is another option that can be used without coding knowledge, depending on the business size. It also has one of the largest libraries of third-party plug-in applications (including Luna’s for Virtual Try-On) available on the market. We’ve included Shopify in the next group for design and features that differentiate it from other no-code platforms.
A headless eCommerce platform is a popular option for larger retail businesses needing more customization on their website’s front and back end. These platforms decouple the front end of your website with the backend eCommerce platform (and other systems), using APIs to communicate between the two.
Shopify, Adobe eCommerce (formerly Magento), BigCommerce, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud are popular options that allow brands to incorporate brand and content customization as needed on the front end and robust system integration on the back end.
Website customizations and content specific to eyewear eCommerce
Eyewear eCommerce has unique requirements driven by the challenge to help customers find the right fit and a flattering style. These require website customizations and eyewear-specific content, data, and imagery.
The most critical site customizations and unique content needed for eyewear eCommerce are:
- Frame discovery content or personalized frame recommendations
- Robust filters for category pages
- Virtual try-on
- Detailed product imagery
- Capturing prescription details
- Lens selection
All of these apply to prescription glasses brands and retailers, while sunglasses and reading glasses brands and retailers only need to consider the top four.
Frame discovery content and tools
In stores and clinics, customers and patients get help from store associates and opticians to find the right pair of frames. Online, customers struggle with frame discovery when presented with a “wall of glasses” and no way to know which ones will fit or flatter them. That’s why it’s essential to help them discover frames that work for their prescription, fit, and style. You can do so with educational content, filters, frame discovery tools, or all the above.
Relevant content can include a face shape guide or product information on glasses and lens combinations that will work with different prescriptions. In addition, a helpful tool that we have seen some stores use allows customers to enter the measurements of their existing frames to “match” with similar options on the website.
While practical, these approaches put the onus on the customer. On the other hand, AI-based options that use facial scanning technology provide customers with a fast, easy, accurate, and effective way to narrow down options.
Robust filters on your shelf page
After the home page, category pages are the first place customers discover frames. It’s imperative to give them filters right there to narrow options. But that is easier said than done, and excellent filter design takes time and effort.
One challenge for retailers who sell multiple designer brands is getting accurate data to support key filters:
- Frame width
- Eye size
- Bridge size
- Frame shape
- Frame features
Frame data isn’t consistent from manufacturer to manufacturer, and sometimes even brand to brand within the same manufacturer. To make sure that customers end up happy with their order, ensure you have the right filters for fit and style (see above), and take the time to enter the accurate data for new SKUs when you add them to your inventory.
Style exploration is a vital issue for online shoppers, and eyewear eCommerce retailers need solutions to help customers find the perfect fit. Solving for fit through virtual try-on speeds up the purchase process and decreases the propensity for returns. This is why we consider it a must-have, given how important a flattering fit is to purchasing glasses.
Extensive product imagery
For optical retailers looking to launch a new eCommerce site or improve an existing one, high-quality product images of frames are critical to driving conversion—75% of online shoppers rely on product images when deciding to purchase.
Model photography of frames is critical for customers to see what items look like in real life, on a real person. One Luna partner saw a 30% increase in conversion after adding model photography to their product pages.
Prescription and pupillary distance capture and verification
The prescription checkout flow is a unique element of the eyewear shopping experience that many eCommerce websites need help executing. Many retailers add forms for collecting prescription and pupillary distance (PD) details to the checkout flow. But what happens if customers don’t have access to this information? Too often, they abandon their carts.
Because of this challenge, we recommend adding tools to help customers attain these details. For example, many leading eyewear eCommerce retailers offer access to a web-based acuity test to validate prescriptions. After this, they provide tools and applications that help customers attain the necessary details without contacting their doctor, like a lens scanner or PD capture.
Prescription lens selection
Another unique aspect of the eyewear eCommerce checkout process is prescription lens selection. The prescription lens needs to match the customer’s vision needs, and they must also consider multiple materials. Customers who need help understanding these lens options can quickly feel overwhelmed.
Most eCommerce sites ask customers questions and guide them through a lens selection journey. We also recommend creating a few simplified lens bundles to make this process easier and limit the number of add-ons, which will likely result in higher conversion rates.
Get advice from Luna experts
Whether you’re just starting your eCommerce journey or have an established business and are looking to optimize your website, we are here to help.
We’d be happy to set up a time to talk with you and share our knowledge on partners, platforms, site customizations, features, and optimizations to help you build a successful eyewear eCommerce strategy and website.