Coronavirus BRIEFING

ECPs Eager to Engage Patients Turn to Frames Data's Online Gallery

By

NEW YORK—As the ongoing COVID-19 crisis continues to keep patients at home and businesses shuttered, eyecare professionals are searching for ways to stay connected to their patients. One product they are turning to is Frames Data's My Frame Gallery, which allows brick-and-mortar retailers to create an online virtual gallery of eyewear. As retailers have been faced with the need to limit in-person interactions with patients, the My Frame Gallery product offers a simple way to comply with social distancing while still helping ECPs meet their patients' eyewear needs.

"Customer inquiries have increased substantially in the last several weeks," said Tom Lamond, president of Frames Data. "We wish it was under different circumstances, but we're glad to be able to provide this product now when independent practices really need it."

Seeport Optometry in North Port, Fla. is a recent subscriber to the My Frame Gallery service. According to licensed optician and owner Annie Hicks, this was "the right time to put My Frame Gallery in place."

Hicks has been busy ramping up Seeport's online activities, including a practice YouTube channel, a popular Facebook coloring contest, and a new COVID-19 section on their website. "I want patients to know that during this time if they break their glasses, we can still help them and do it safely for everyone. My Frame Gallery fits in as one of the many tools we're putting in place that will help us do that."

My Frame Gallery, which debuted in 2017, uses the vast Frames Data library to allow retailers to create an online frame board.

"That's why implementing this product is so easy," said Lamond. "For any retailer that wants to show frames online, the product information is often the biggest hurdle to getting that website to launch. We've already done that part, and we've made the process fast and easy."

This simplicity is another reason for My Frame Gallery's current popularity. According to Lamond, the set-up process of one of these galleries can take "as little as a few minutes to set up start to finish." Once the gallery is completed, the next step is to simply link to it from the retailers existing website.

Has the pandemic changed how the product is being used? Lamond said, "We think so. We've heard anecdotally that customers have set up a gallery and then emailed it out to patients that are in need of a new frame. In these cases, the practice already has a valid prescription on file, can ship the finished eyewear directly to the patient, and then offer a live fitting once the practice can see patients in person again."

Though My Frame Gallery's original intention was to drive traffic to a physical location (it doesn't include e-commerce features and consumers cannot purchase a frame online via the software), retailers are getting creative and leveraging more technology to make the process work for them. "Retailers using our Wish List feature can have the patient submit a list of frames they are interested in. We've even heard of some practices then using a virtual Zoom meeting to show the patient actual frames from the list via video call," Lamond said.

That process is echoed by Seeport Optometry's Hicks. "If someone breaks their frame or lenses and needs a back-up pair to read or to drive, we're directing them to our Gallery to start the process of finding a frame that they like—either from our basic $50 single vision package or other products.

“I don't recommend patients doing this if they have progressive lenses, but for a single vision back-up pair of eyewear, we get the prescription and I can work with the patient remotely to get the measurements right. And with our in-house single vision lab we can often turn around a pair of replacements the same day," Hicks said.

Frames Data makes frequent updates to the service, and the surge in demand happens to coincide with the release of new features designed to enhance the experience for retailers. The new Marketing Tool Kit for instance, showcases several downloadable articles, formatted to be easily printable, and the addition of "secondary contacts" allows users to assign additional staff members to receive communications about My Frame Gallery best practices.

Additionally, an extensive design overhaul is set to be implemented early next month. According to Lamond, the new design will include a sleek new widescreen design for desktop users, updated filter functionality, and a revamped mobile experience for cell phone users.

Frames Data has been the optical industry's source for ophthalmic frame information, and a trusted partner of eyecare professionals across the U.S., for over 50 years. Products include My Frame Gallery, Frames Data IDA, Frames Data DVD and Frames Data SPEX UPC for retail frame dispensaries and Tracing Points for optical labs. For more information, visit www.framesdata.com/gallery or call (800) 821-6069 ext 3.