Proving that innovation is alive and well in all sectors of business, the afternoon session immediately following keynote speaker Robert Safian focused on advancements in digital commerce. This session featured John Graham, general manager for, and David Geipel, founder of mobile e-commerce firm QWASI.

Graham spent time at’s parent company 1-800-CONTACTS before making the switch to launch the eyewear site two years ago. According to him, optical patients are dissatisfied because of pressure placed on them in an “uncomfortable decision-making environment.” He pointed out that a regular retail location’ often times has limited selection. And yet, not all is rose-colored on the web, Graham noted. “The online business models have sprouted up around closeout opportunities with incredibly low prices and enormous selection. We’ve all seen the ‘designer eyewear for less’ ads. Because so many online eyewear sellers are price focused, it seems like a race to the bottom,” he said.

 John Graham of talked about patient satisfaction and the power of brands.  David Geipel, founder of mobile e-commerce firm QWASI, focused his remarks on “SoLoMo”: social, local mobile.
“We think the power of brands is important for a sustainable business model and only buy directly,” Graham said. is looking to provide a really good interpretation of the licensed brand in a multimedia rich environment. The company verifies every prescription and is mostly interested in selling to the customers they already have. “We don’t do too much work to find new customers because the old ones always come back, having found it easy to work with us. Our goal is to have the reality of our customers exceed their expectations,” he explained.

The session’s second panelist came from outside the world of optical, but is acutely familiar with the retailing world. At mobile e-commerce firm QWASI, David Geipel began his presentation with “SoLoMo” – or social, local mobile. “Today’s consumers are highly engaged, they are using technology to find their services. So how can you work to make that as seamless for them as possible?” he asked the audience.

Utilizing raw data, Geipel explained that 73 percent of all consumers are texting, while the same amount are taking a picture on their mobile device. Another statistic: 29 percent of consumers use a social networking site on their mobile phone. Ultimately, Geipel showed that texting is the number one reason people use their phones today. “Mobile is very personal. It’s in your hand, it’s with you all the time. As a business, you have to have a mobile strategy,” he emphasized.

And just where should today’s businesses focus their attention? Mostly via text messaging, Geipel explained. He explained that apps are not right for every business and mobile sites only moderately engage users. But it’s mobile marketing, including texting a keyword, scheduling reminders, post-visit surveys and pick-up notices that are most useful.

Geipel’s last piece of advice to businesses operating on and off the web today? “Quickly create a Facebook and Twitter presence and start connecting. Keep in mind that they are not really free—it does take time and money to stand out.”