Conversion Rate Optimization for the Eyewear eCommerce Industry

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In the new normal of social distancing, many eyewear retailers are either transitioning to eCommerce or adding it to their portfolio. But even before COVID-19, eCommerce had been seeing a huge rise in adoption from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

In 2019, eCommerce was responsible for around $3.5 trillion in sales and is expected to hit $4.9 trillion by 2021. In the US alone, eCommerce represents over 10% of retail sales and that number is expected to grow by nearly 15% year over year.

Why is eCommerce growing at such a rapid pace?

There are many reasons.

For many modern consumers, there is a strong preference for online shopping and personalized shopping experiences. For others, the convenience and ability to compare prices from various retailers has a lot of appeal.

But what we know for sure is that COVID-19 has accelerated eCommerce adoption and increased the value and importance of having a strong, well-optimized eCommerce site.

Additionally, for those omnichannel eyewear brands and retailers, an increase in traffic to their eCommerce sites has further increased the need for strong conversion rate optimization to maximize the unique opportunity of increased volumes of shoppers.

In this article, we’ll lay out why eyewear retailers need conversion rate optimization to boost eyewear sales and improve the shopping experience for their customers.

We’ll lay out general CRO guidelines but also include some incredibly important elements that are specific to eyewear retailers, that solve for fit and recommendation. It’s important to note that if fit and recommendation are absolutely key for successful conversion rates in eyewear.

Let’s get started!

Eyewear Retailers Need eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

Eyewear is a very unique purchase and the bar is high for both personalization and fit when purchasing online. Prescription glasses or prescription sunglasses are a grade 1 medical device and customers need an active prescription to make the purchase.

Additionally, personalization and fit are key as eyewear says a lot about your personality and frames fit is critical for each unique face.

Therefore, eyewear retailers need to not only optimize their site for conversions as any other eCommerce retailer would, but they also need to be able to solve for fit and support the strong need for personalization in eyewear.

Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist for eCommerce Eyewear

1. Frame Recommendations

As stated previously, eyewear is a very unique purchase. Not only is frame choice impacted by face shape and style preferences, but it also impacted by prescription.

The sheer number of options and the inability to choose the appropriate frame for their needs makes traditional frame discovery tedious, overwhelming, and confusing.

In stores, customers would have a lot of help to find the right pair of frames. This needs to be replicated online.

It is critical to have nuanced frame discovery that includes an emphasis on fit, style, and whether a particular frame selection works for their medical prescription.

Ditto achieves this by using machine learning to provide personalized frame recommendations for the customer using their face shape, measurements, style preferences, and prescription. Ditto can then recommend options that the customer might like to help simplify and speed up frame discovery.

Ultimately, this results in higher customer satisfaction and increased sales.

2. Virtual Try-On

When customers shop for eyewear online, they need to be able to see the look and feel of the glasses on their face. Virtual try-on allows you to achieve that.

At Ditto, our virtual try-on technology uses augmented reality to superimpose eyewear onto the customer’s face through video capture. This allows them to see both the fit and style of the glasses on their face, so they can decide whether or not to buy.

With the ability to see the look and feel of the glasses on their face with beautiful realism, customers gain the confidence they need to buy. In addition, solving for fit through virtual try-on speeds up the purchase process and decreases the propensity for returns.

But solving for fit is just one of the issues that eyewear retails face.

3. Rx Info and Verification Flows

The RX checkout flow is a unique element of the eyewear shopping experience. It’s important to add a step in the checkout process that allows you to collect Rx information. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • You can have the customer enter their prescription manually.
    This is easiest to implement but the most difficult for customers to do and can be a major source of friction to conversion rates. Customer’s often don’t have easy access to their prescription. They are also confusing and error on entry is common.
  • You can have the customer send you a picture of their prescription.
    This is slightly easier for the customer but still assumes the customer has access to the prescription and can navigate the uploading process.
  • You can ask for the customer’s doctor and then create a workflow to get the prescription directly from the doctor.
    This is far easier on the customer and will lead to an increase in conversion rate. It’s more complicated and expensive on the back-end as you have to build a workflow that automatically or manually reaches out the doctor and follows up as needed.

One additional consideration is that many prescriptions do not have the pupillary distance which is a key measurement when creating prescription lenses. Ditto is launching a pupillary distance tool soon to address this need.

We recommend you verify the prescription to ensure it’s accurate and up to date. Even if you choose to have the customer’s manually enter their prescription or send you a picture of their prescription, we recommend you also collect the doctor’s name and phone numbers so that you can verify the prescription either passively (send and have them reach out if it’s incorrect) or actively (have them verify it’s accurate). Some sites do not verify prescriptions which can lead to mistakes or self-diagnosing. You should also check with US state laws on what’s allowed.

4. Personalized Email Marketing

Maintaining constant contact with your potential customers as well as existing customers is essential to the success of an eCommerce store, especially in eyewear because of the low frequency of purchase – usually 30 months in the US.

Sending personalized email nurture sequences with dynamic content will keep your audience engaged between purchases and get them to return to your site to purchase again when the time comes.

Some additional considerations to keep in mind when utilizing email marketing are:

  • Send abandoned shopping cart emails to let shoppers know their items are available and ready for purchase.
    • With Ditto, you can even send customers photos of themselves in the glasses they tried on as a way to entice them to return and complete their purchase.
  • Include virtual try-on photos/gifs in emails for remarketing of your list.
  • Send special offers, freebies, coupons via email to entice shoppers to return to your eCommerce site.

5. Add Unique Lens Checkout

Another unique aspect to the eyewear eCommerce checkout process is prescription lens selection. The prescription lens selected need to match the customer’s vision needs and there are usually options to increase the index of the lens to get a thinner product which can look better in their frame and be lighter and more comfortable.

Most customers don’t deeply understand the lens options and can quickly feel overwhelmed. Coatings and add-ons can contribute to this overwhelming feeling. We recommend creating a few simplified lens bundles to make this process easier and limit the number of add-ons which is likely to result in higher conversion rates.

6. Eyewear retailers also need to solve the same problems as any other eCommerce store.

While the eyewear industry faces the unique challenge of providing fit and recommendation through their eCommerce store, they also have the same issues that any other eCommerce store would have. These are:

  • Increasing traffic from website visitors
  • Increasing conversion rates through an optimal shopping experience
  • Increasing your customer’s average order value
  • Increasing repeat sales from loyal customers
  • Add contacts to your CRM (customer relationship manager) by capturing customer emails and data

Next, we’ll discuss how they can achieve these outcomes for their store.

What Should Eyewear Retailers Do to Achieve CRO

Improve Customer Experience

1. Design for mobile-first.

40% of mobile device owners use their phones to conduct research before buying and more than 70% of Ditto customers use our technology through their mobile devices. To capture this ever-expanding portion of available consumers, you want to make sure that your site is readable and easy to navigate on mobile screens.

2. Correct conversion-killing items.

For any eCommerce business, this could include things like:

  • Not having a search function available.
  • Cluttering the homepage with too many text and/or images.
  • Having numerous calls-to-action on one page. You should have one option to “try-on” frames and another to add a pair of frames to their cart. That’s it.
  • Not having a blog, or having a blog that is neglected.
  • Slow load times.
  • Media on autoplay or loop.
  • Malfunctioning, overlapping, or poorly designed navigational elements.

For an eyewear eCommerce retailer, this could also include:

  • Lack of a frame recommendation system that mimics a brick-and-mortar wall display
  • Missing confidence-boosting features on the product detail page
    • Great imagery including 360 views.
      • Many retailers just use 2-3 pictures. Data shows that’s not enough to optimize conversions!
    • Personalized assortments are key for sites with a lot of SKUs.
  • Inability for customers to virtually try-on glasses.
  • Inability for customers to compare frame features.
  • Missing Rx verification flows.
  • No method to solve for fit.

3. Optimize CTAs

Your eCommerce site should have many calls-to-action (CTA) throughout. You should use colorful buttons that grab attention and are placed above the fold. They should be clear and direct so customers understand what they are being asked to do through clicking.

4. Provide a ‘Live Chat’ option

It’s important for customers to have a way to get help during their shopping experience if they have questions. This increases their confidence to buy and allows them to feel less vulnerable during the buyer journey.
Even better is if the sales rep can see you virtually try on pairs and do a live style consult. They need to be educated on prescription glasses so they can address any questions about what frames and lenses will work with your vision needs too.

 

5. Reduce your load speed times

  • Develop a custom 404 page with a CTA to keep browsing the store
  • Display special offers on your homepage

6. Allow customers to share on social media

With Ditto, they can also share multiple pictures of their virtual try-on experience for friends and family to poll on their favorites.

7. Add a favorites page

A favorites page is a great option for customers to save a list of items to help them narrow down their selection and is recommended for highly considered items like eyewear.

8. Do A/B Testing

The best way to truly know what works well for your customers is to test different aspects of your page design to see which performs better. Just a few elements to consider when A/B testing are:

  • Headlines
  • CTAs
  • Images
  • Placement
  • Text

Content Marketing

To compete in the saturated world of internet content and websites, it’s important to utilize content marketing to differentiate and gain awareness. Here are a few ways you can utilize content marketing to increase conversion rate optimization on your site.

1. Optimize your entire site- landing pages, content, and images for SEO.

2. Create a buyer’s guide to help customers know what they should be looking for when making a purchase.

For eyewear customers, they often don’t know that their face shape makes a difference on which frames are best for them- in fact, they may not even know what their face shape is. Not to mention the fact that the frequency of prescription eyewear purchases is more than two years, so more education is needed to help customers select the proper frames for them.

It’s very useful to have technology that helps customers determine their face shape and get recommendations about what frames work for them.

3. Develop product display landing pages.

  • Create detailed, original product descriptions along with high-quality images to help customers make better frame selection.
  • Incorporate virtual try-on on product pages so shoppers can see how the glasses fit.
    • Ditto technology allows users to save their photos for future purchases and to use on mobile devices to make shopping more convenient for customers.
    • Ditto also offers email capture during the virtual try-on process so you can increase your CRM and begin nurturing website visitors to increase their frequency to the site and purchases.
  • Post product reviews.
  • Add frame recommendations.
  • Add clear shipping info onto your product pages.
  • Create gift-shopping landing pages.
  • Create urgency to turn browsers into buyers with calls-to-action.

Site Search

Although it was mentioned above under “conversion killing items” it’s worth including again to emphasize the importance of including a site search feature. Neglecting this can cost you some serious conversion power.

We highly recommended adding filtering options to your category page to help customers sort frames. For eyewear, this might include things like:

  • Frame size
  • Lens options
  • Face shape
  • Rim type
  • Price
  • Brand
  • Color
  • Material
  • Nosepads
  • On-sale options
  • New arrivals

It’s important to use data that is consistent across your products. This can be challenging because frame manufacturers are not consistent in how they tag products. Ditto has created a clean database of frame data that can help you create consistency across products from various frame manufacturers. This data can help create great filters and optimize your products for site search and SEO.

A final consideration is to create new categories based on google analytics that will help not only drive CRO but SEO as well.

 

Checkout Process

One of the leading reasons for cart abandonment during purchase is a confusing or complicated checkout process. To avoid this, there are some elements to make sure you include in your checkout process.

  • Include Rx capture and verification (again, this is a big one for eyewear eCommerce)
  • Display total order costs before, during, and after purchase.
  • Remove the navigation bar on checkout.
  • Add a visual progress indicator to the checkout process.
  • Offer various payment options.
  • Simplify the checkout page as much as possible to avoid confusion.
  • Offer an upsell opportunity at checkout.

Delivery and Returns

It’s important to clearly display delivery and return policies so that customers are aware and know what to expect. Confusion on this matter can lead to unsatisfied customers and bad reviews. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Offer free shipping and returns on purchases.
  • Include a reasonable satisfaction guarantee return policy to minimize uncertainty.
  • Add a freight-forwarding option for customers in countries you can’t service.
  • Submit your store for inclusion as a Google Trusted Store listing.
  • Add a home try-on program.
    • Typically, eyewear retailers send 3-5 pairs of frames without lenses so customers can try on in person. This can be expensive from an inventory and shipping perspective, so virtual try-on is a good alternative.
    • If you want to keep home try-on, virtual try-on can help improve home try-on conversions by making sure all the pairs selected fit and confirming style.

User-Generated Content

A great way to build awareness and increase demand is to encourage your customers to share their experiences with friends and family via social. Encourage them to share unboxing videos that are entertaining and enlightening for other potential shoppers.

Ask for reviews of recently purchased products to display on your product pages for social proof.

Incorporate user-generated content into your product pages by utilizing hash-tags so that content is easy to find and display on your website.

Conclusion

While all of the elements mentioned above are important for conversion rate optimization of eCommerce store, as an eyewear retailer, if you can’t solve for fit and recommendation first, then none of these other elements matter all that much because your sales will suffer and return rate could be as high as 50%.

If you’d like help improving your eComm store experience, we are here to help. To see our frame recommendation and virtual try-on platform in action, visit our site for a demo, or contact us to learn more.

Kate Doerksen // Cofounder and CEO

Kate Doerksen // Cofounder and CEO

I started Ditto over nine years ago. It’s been one hell of an entrepreneurial journey thus far - battling patent trolls, the ups and downs of finding product market fit, launching an eComm site for glasses and pivoting that to a subscription business before selling it, focusing on our technology business, almost going bankrupt a few times, traveling the world to partner with retailers and brands globally, actually learning about eyewear, cofounder transitions, and now focusing on growth and building an amazing team. It’s been nuts at times, but I feel I was born to be an entrepreneur. I am so proud of what we’ve built both in terms of our products and our culture. We are on a mission to make eyewear accessible and personal.

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