Major Players Encourage Independent ECPs to Compete in the Online Space

By
 


While the total number of eyeglasses sold online can vary dramatically depending on the source of the information and who is conducting the research, industry participants are acutely aware of this category, and some are taking steps to address its existence and growth.

For example, Essilor, the world’s largest lens company, launched MyOnlineOptical three years ago to allow independent optical practices to create an online presence through which their patients could shop for eyewear. Today, the program has grown to over 1,000 websites.

The company announced that it will launch MyOnlineOptical 2.0 in April this year. Improvements will include an expanded designer frame selection, a higher profit split to the eyecare professional, enhanced search and navigation on the site and improved reporting to the ECP, according to an Essilor spokesperson.

Beyond offering eyewear shopping from any internet connection, MO2 will also enable ECPs to use the site in their office to sell to patients who might be looking for a wider selection.

In addition, the country’s largest managed care plan, VSP, launched Eyeconic in 2011, enabling both members and non-members to buy contact lenses, browse eyewear and sunwear and find a VSP doctor. Now, VSP members can purchase single vision lenses from the website, and the company is in the midst of testing allowing members to use their vision benefits online. (See “Managed Care Emerges Online, page 45.)

VSP also developed eStores by Eyeconic to serve as an online extension of an individual VSP practice’s brick-and-mortar dispensary. Both VSP members and non-members can shop online for contact lenses as well as plano and prescription eyewear.