Starting your own Optical Store in Canada: Lenses & Frames 101

 In New Business

As an optical store owner, one of the most critical decisions you will make is selecting which lenses and frames to keep in your store. Your inventory needs to cater to the specific needs and preferences of your target market, which can vary significantly based on their budget and taste.

For a high-end boutique, your target market will be customers who are willing to pay top dollar for high-quality products and exclusive designs. When selecting frames for a high-end boutique, you should focus on luxury brands that have a reputation for high-end craftsmanship, such as Gucci, Chanel, Prada, or Tom Ford. Keep in mind that these brands often have limited distribution, so having them in stock will make your store more exclusive and desirable to this target market. In addition to luxury brands, you may want to offer unique, handcrafted frames made by independent designers. These frames can be a significant draw for customers who want something truly one-of-a-kind. Dita, Masunaga and Lindberg are some examples of such exclusive brands.

When it comes to lenses, you should be offering known premium brands like Essilor’s Varilux and Nikon’s SeeMax line. Offer Xperio (Polarized), Transitions (Photochromic) and BlueBlock options at a premium. Offer premium coatings from known brands such as Essilor’s Crizal and Nikon’s SeeCoat. These combinations are not only functional but also offer a premium touch to your high-end boutique.

If your target market is through a mid-level store, your customers want quality products at a reasonable price. When selecting frames and lenses for a mid-level store, you should focus on well-known brands that offer a balance between quality and affordability. Brands such as Emporio Armani, Guess, Lacoste, Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Nike are popular in this market segment. You should also offer non-branded quality frames. This offers a choice for your price-conscious customer who does not want to pay a premium for the brand name. The profit margin in non-branded frames is also generally higher. Sunoptec is a tried and tested supplier in this area. Another interesting option is local suppliers who offer discontinued models of branded frames at a bargain price.

In terms of lenses and coatings, you should partner up with a lab and offer their home brand to your customers as standard. These lenses are often higher quality and are actually manufactured by reputed manufacturers like Essilor and Hoya. Lens Shapers’ Distinctive Line of progressive lenses is a good example of a great balance of quality and price. Another advantage will be the ability to offer lower priced home brand coatings as well as higher performing branded coatings like Essilor Crizal on the same lens.

The bargain-style store targets customers who want to get the most for their money. When selecting frames and lenses for a bargain-style store, you should focus on affordable brands that offer both quality and affordability. Brands such as Foster Grant, Jones New York, and Converse are popular in this market segment. You should also have a larger selection of non-branded frames. These frames have a much lower cost to you and you can offer great bargain prices to your customers. Mostly independent local suppliers will offer you these frames. C.S. Optical is a good supplier in this area.

In terms of lenses, you should offer standard plastic lenses as they are the most affordable option. For higher prescriptions, polycarbonate material will be the best price. 1.56 index, although, may be available at a lower price but does not really provide a measurable advantage in thickness or weight and is often lower quality. Additionally, offering a limited selection of budget progressive lenses can be a great way to appeal to customers who need multifocal lenses but don’t want to pay a premium price. Lens Shapers’ Shapers DS is a great fit for this target market. Keep in mind that customers shopping at a bargain-style store are looking for a deal, so offering promotions or discounts can be a great way to attract customers.



This post is part of our Starting Your Own Optical Store in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide to Success series.

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