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The world is facing its worst health and economic crisis due to the COVID-19. India opted for a national lockdown before many countries, and managed to, comparatively, control the spread so far. But the economic cost has already been devastating.
Each industry needs a common platform to discuss the new challenges and present possible solutions in the post lockdown scenario.
To this end, The Indian Optician organised a Webinar on 29 April 2020 with leading optical retailers from different parts of the country who shared their views.
It is clear that revenues will drop and operational expenses will increase. Shray Kumar of The Indian Optician and Jaspinder Bhatia of Smart Events asked questions about the problems which led to some valuable suggestions.
What is going to be the new ‘normal’? What changes to expect? How to maintain and increase sales when costs go up with new hygiene protocols for the protection of opticians, their staff and customers, less in-store space, fresh training for staff, home deliveries to clients? Will neighbourhood stores be preferred? Will visits by appointment be next?
Turnover will go down with less premium sales, less footfalls, and customers wanting low-priced products as their incomes too have been hit. With entry for only a few customers at a time and more space required to maintain social distancing, small shops and even larger outlets may need to redesign their space and reduce their inventory and displays, showing more options on digital devices thereby also reducing their time on sterilising. However, customers may spend less time so turnover can be faster.
Since eyewear is an essential health-related product, optical stores are in a better position than many other sectors. The first demand post lifting of the lockdown will be replacement of prescription lenses to meet changed power requirements, many new prescription wearers as usual, replacement of broken lenses/frames. Importantly, wearers will realise the need for an extra pair of glasses which can increase sales.
The industry needs to reformat with increased safety standards, new dispensing and sanitising protocols, lower priced products, investing back in the business, more digital presence, providing more information to the customer online on eye care and eye health, how to reach your optician in an emergency, etc.
In live polls held as the Webinar was underway, nearly all agreed that optical stores should be listed as essential services; opticians would follow the new SOPs (standard operating procedures); they would prefer Indian-made products over imports. The optical frame manufacturing sector in India must expand rapidly with cost and quality advantage so dependence on imports decreases.
Best conducted webinar till date. Voice was clear no background disturbance. Very good conductor over all 10/10. Excellent job done by Harish and his team.
ALOK BINANI, HIMALAYA OPTICALS
Very good initiativeand great discussions. Special thanks to The Indian Optician. RAMACHANDRAN P.
After seeing the Webinar, I feel that if we all are there for each other than this industry will be back soon. Thank you kumar for this program
PRATIK KHARA, MANGALSONS
All the panelist did very well and my special congrats to Shray Kumar who was confidence personified
HEM GARG, R. K. OPTICAL SERVICES
I appreciate very able advise and knowledge shared by galaxy of panelists. Thanks Kumar’s for making this happen. Expecting more in this line. It was Interesting, informative, on the point, very well organised, anchored to serve the purpose. Keep it up Shray.
NAISHAD DESAI, DIAMOND LAB
It was a very good program and our panelist are very intelligent
I knew but they were just great. SANJEEV MADAN, BON TON OPTICIANS
Well conducted webinar. Good thoughts from all the panelists. SANDEEP PAWHA, LAXMI OPTICALS
Nice webinar. Good thoughts shared by panelists.
GERARD LOBO, GERARD OPTICIAN
Wonderful webinar. Very informative. good job!
RUSHAB SHAH, HIND OPTICAL CO.
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