You don’t need perfect vision to see that online shopping is booming.
In the health and wellness vertical specifically, sales increased by more than $19 billion. It makes sense, and not only because of Covid-19. Generally speaking, there are plenty of good reasons to shop online, including convenience, pricing, and product variety. For customers looking to purchase glasses online, the internet offers a world of design options and savings of up to 40% compared to the more traditional ways of purchasing glasses.
But when it comes to the online eyewear retail industry, offering a good shopping experience for purchasing prescription glasses online has its own share of challenges, and the average conversion rates in the industry are relatively low.
One of the more prominent challenges is obtaining the pupillary distance (PD), an issue which affects purchasing decisions and customer satisfaction rates.
Understanding the obstacle of PD in eCommerce
Just to get us all on the same page, though you probably know this already, pupillary distance is the term used to describe the distance between the center of a person’s pupils in millimeters. This data tells glasses manufacturers where the lenses’ optical centers should be located. Wearing prescription glasses with the wrong PD figures might result in a strange overall feeling and significant inconvenience. The problem is that PD data is often missing from glasses prescriptions, and 90% of customers looking to buy glasses online don’t know their PD.
This problem affects the online purchasing journey, as customers are asked to fill out this missing information in order to complete their online purchase. Retailers risk losing the sale altogether due to customer frustration, and customers who put in data based on assumptions might end up with ill-fitting lenses that will lead to costly returns.
What are the different ways for online retailers to obtain accurate PD data?
Contacting customers directly as part of the purchase journey: Some retailers choose to have a representative call the customer directly and guide them on how to retrieve this information by using an optometrist, eye doctor, or by running at-home measurement. You can clearly understand the problem here. To execute on this strategy, retailers must operate a massive support center of trained representatives. Scalability becomes an issue and the operational costs get heavy. In addition, the process causes quite a headache for the customer, shifting responsibility to them and, should they choose to self-measure, might still end up with inaccurate information, putting us back at square one. Finally, this process interrupts the online self-serve purchasing journey and might therefore lead to cart abandonment in search of more accessible solutions. In short, this solution is far from ideal.
Offering information on manual self-measurement: As I mentioned above, there are manual techniques customers may use to figure out their PD measurements. Some retailers choose to include static (or video) guides on how to use these methods. This option may require an investment in the initial demo creation process, and customers can freely access the guides when needed. Sounds good? Almost. The main flaw is the low level of accuracy due to poor compliance and negative experience. The process can be quite complex and there’s no telling if customers follow the instructions properly. If the result is inaccurate, guess who pays the price? That’s right, the retailer. Besides, this solution still interferes with the online purchasing journey, and again we face the risk of frustrated customers and cart abandonment.
Embedding digital PD tools in the online purchasing journey: Today, digital PD tools can be embedded into the ecommerce website (or app) as part of the online purchasing journey. Such tools allow users to generate an accurate PD result within minutes, thereby maintaining a smooth, seamless experience all the way to a completed order. The PD tool is potentially far more accurate than the DIY option and far less cumbersome than chasing your optometrist or eye doctor to get the measurement. After a simple one-time integration process, the retailer is good to go.
At Luna we have developed a full digital optical toolset made for online eyewear retailers, including a highly advanced PD tool, myRx PD Reader, using image processing technology to answer this burning market need. Our solutions are already successfully deployed by Specsavers, PairEyewear, SmartBuyGlasses, Ezcontacts, Liingo Eyewear, and many others.
Luna’s myRx PD Reader is compliant with industry standards and reaches an accuracy rate 3x higher than traditional devices according to clinical trials.
So how much does the PD problem cost retailers?
Based on our work and conversations with online eyewear retailers, the PD problem bears costs for retailer, stemming from several factors:
- The cost of product returns: In 2020, customers returned retail goods valued at approximately $428 billion. Retailers know that the cost of shipping and packaging makes returns complex and expensive on their end. Minimizing returns is vital because more than 80% of customers would refrain from buying from a brand after a bad return experience.
- The cost of direct customer communication: According to retailers we have spoken with, the estimated cost of a single customer support call runs between $5-8, depending on the representative’s seniority level. Keep in mind that these calls are relevant for product return management, customer complaints, communicating the need to approach an optometrist, provide DIY guidance, and more. PD measurement issues trigger support tickets and cost the business money.
- The cost of losing future business and damaging brand reputation: While it’s hard to estimate the value of customers who might not shop with the brand again following inaccurate PD data or due to a tedious experience, it is a price that retailers must consider. The same goes for abandoned carts due to complicated procedures that interrupted the purchasing journey.
Solving the PD problem can make a big difference
Implementing an out-of-box digital PD tool requires a short and friendly one-time setup process.
Here’s something I’ve learned during my career serving retailers: No one understands your audience better than you, and the weight of the above-mentioned factors may vary depending on the retailer. Still, they can act as motivators for effectively solving the PD problem and inspire any decision you eventually make based on your particular circumstances.
You would probably agree that the ultimate goal of any retailer is to form a pleasant experience for customers. This process must take into consideration a long line of factors, including accuracy, convenience, ease of use, and speed. Technology can be widely leveraged for that.
A seamless journey will not only decrease the risk of losing the sale, but also the risk of damaging the brand’s reputation. Keeping customers happy and loyal for the long term is the real ROI game and we all know that customer lifetime value is key to long-term profitability in eCommerce.