Clip-ons, cords, chains, cleaning kits…the list of eyewear accessories goes on and on. As it can be difficult to keep on top of trends, we asked accessory aficionados Jacquie Ellis from McCann Optical, Chandresh Thakrar of Eyeline Optical and Hamish Tame, creative director at Sunshades Eyewear, to reveal some of the hottest add-on trends for this year and beyond.
It’s all about chains and clip-ons
Hamish Tame is the first to point out that eyewear chains are no longer reserved for Dame Edna or your eccentric aunt! Tames says there has been a significant upsurge in sales by the millennial market thanks, in part, to the proliferation of celebrities flaunting the latest chain bling being worn to secure the obligatory shades.
“Over the past two years we have seen eyewear chains really rise in popularity, particularly in gold; whether it’s fine or chunky,” says Tame. “Our Le Specs collaboration with jewellery designer Jordan Askill features a chunky gold metal chain and it’s a personal favourite.”
Jacquie Ellis says the chains in the B & S range have been extremely popular among McCann Optical clientele. She has a personal penchant for their Abigail chain, which comes in two colours - pink and white - and features interlinkages of differently sized pearls, gold baubles and a decorative silver cross.
For the ski season, Ellis says the hottest items on the shelves are neoprene straps. Tame agrees; he is also a fan of this ‘1980s sport vibe’.
With a huge range of chains and cords entering the market, Chandresh Thakrar says there’s one to suit just about any fashion taste, with highlights being the use of natural polished shells, pearls and beads.
Thakrar says the word from his Italian and German suppliers is that clip-on frames are enjoying a big resurgence, allowing customers to chop and change frames conveniently and cost-effectively.
“Clip-ons are no longer a seasonal accessory; they can be used all the year round, especially if you are travelling. Having one clip-on in the car, one at home, one in the office or in your bag is a convenient alternative to purchasing multiple frames. Should they go missing, replacements are easily available and are not as expensive.”
The other advantage with the clip-on range, says Thakrar, is that they can be trimmed to a particular size and shape, giving patients a perfect fit, along with a bespoke frame. Parents are jumping on the clip-on bandwagon, he says, as they are all too aware of the dangers of the sun on their little ones’ eyes. Thakrar says to look out for a jump in the baby and small kids’ clip-on sunglass market.
Is it worth expanding my range?
Any opportunity to increase your practice’s bottom line should be explored, and the accessories market may be the boost you need. Ellis says, “Having a good selection of accessories handy for the customer to view makes adding to the sale very easy. This is particularly handy for those who are unsure how to go about employing that often used up-sale line ‘Would you like fries with that?’!”
Tame agrees on the importance of expanding, particularly into the youth market, which appears to be the most ‘accessory hungry’. “Our youth retailers are selling thousands of chains, so for optometrists, these present the perfect opportunity for an add-on sale,” he says.
It’s well-known that customers are more likely to purchase when they can see what a fashion product looks like on a model, and are shown various ways it can be worn or styled. For you, this might mean using a 3D mannequin head in store or, as Tame suggests, having large poster marketing materials that feature various accessories styled. This is precisely what Tame did in his Le Specs campaign earlier this year, with chains featuring alongside their new glasses range.
Tame also says you simply can't beat perfect point-of-sale placement to help you up-sell. Ellis agrees, “Lens cleaning solutions are always a great add-on sale. Displaying them on your counter allows you to discuss the importance of keeping new frames clean and protected, and helps patients appreciate that their new glasses need to be well cared for.”
Something quirky to encourage that impulse buy
If you’ve already got your fill of chains, cord, cleaning kits and clip-ons, you might consider adding something that little bit different to your inventory to pique your customers’ interest and entice them to spend a smidgen more. If so, there are plenty of eyewear-themed options…
Spectacle stands for the home are a nifty idea, especially for people with several pairs of glasses, or that one pair that constantly gets misplaced. Single stands are often fashioned into unique shapes, such as a face with a large nose to hang specs on, or there are tiered varieties, like those used in store.
Customised glasses cases are another interesting add-on option. There is a huge selection of glasses cases available and customers can choose anything from leather monogrammed cases to those featuring their family members or pets. When it comes to extra bling, opt for glasses-themed hair accessories or jewellery, such as necklaces or earrings, or brooches that hold glasses and perform a similar function to chains.
Renee Lunder is an Australian freelance journalist and proud specs wearer.