Why are more consumers purchasing eyewear online

Man with glasses using smartphone

Technology has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our daily lives, especially how we shop. Over the past decade, the percentage of eCommerce sales has grown by double digits each year, and it’s not slowing down, according to eMarketer.

The online shopping landscape is expanding beyond retail goods like clothing and household items. Consumers are increasingly using the internet to purchase necessities, including eyewear. In fact, the Vision Council Market Research team found that online sales of glasses and contacts reached 2.1 billion in 2018.

While there are many reasons why consumers are purchasing their prescription eyewear online, here are three of the biggest causes for this shift.

Convenience is key

One of the pain points consumers have about traditional shopping is convenience, and eyewear is no different. Stores may have set hours and limited inventory that make taking a designated trip to receive a set of frames or lenses difficult.

Online shopping gives consumers control over when and where they can shop. Kinsta found that 43 percent of online shoppers have made a purchase while in bed, 23 percent at the office, and 20 percent while in a car.

With the rise of mobile-friendly websites and applications, it’s easier than ever for people to order and receive eyewear without making a trip to an eye care professional. Through online channels, all consumers need to do is upload their prescription and they can choose from hundreds of different brands and styles. For contact lenses, there’s even options to automatically reship them at set intervals.

With products like contact lenses and glasses that are used daily but need to be replaced regularly (especially contact lenses), online shopping is a convenient way to receive eyewear when consumers need it.

Customers enjoy reading reviews

Another benefit of online shopping are the reviews. Some consumers may be hesitant to purchase a product like glasses or contact lenses online because they can’t see them in-person before purchase. But online reviews can help ease their worry.

In fact, Qualtrics found that online reviews influence the purchase decisions for 93 percent of consumers. Customers use this information to compare product quality and value to determine if they should continue with their purchase.

The same is true for eyewear. The Vision Council reported that nearly 35 percent of buyers used the internet to varying degrees during their last contact lens purchase. Consumers trust online reviews and rely on them to help with their purchasing decisions.

Lower prices drive sales

Finally, consumers are noticing that online channels can be a cost-effective solution for their eyewear needs. According to Consumer Reports, individuals paying entirely out of pocket for their glasses paid around $91 online, while in-store they paid $234. Consumers could also save on purchasing their contacts online.

When integrated with vision benefits, purchasing glasses and contacts online is even more affordable and an easy alternative to visiting brick and mortar retailers.


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