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The Merchant Life Newsletter

Hubble Trouble

By March 18, 2024April 17th, 2024No Comments

The Vision Monday Leadership Summit is where vision leaders get together before the Vision West Expo at Javits Convention Center. Speakers presented on the latest technology in fashion and healthcare — and the bulk of the focus was, of course, on AI.

My presentation closed off a day of discussing data, AI, and technology. Keeping the customer in focus and the problem you are trying to solve is about balance.

I decided to talk about something more low-tech: clienteling.

The inspiration for the topic came from of John Nasbitt’s book, Megatrends. Although it was published in 1982, his predictions are just as valuable today. One of his predictions included the following:

“The more we become surrounded by technology the more we value human touch in our lives.”

Naturally, as AI evolves, the human touch becomes even more critical.

Clienteling and building a deeper relationship with your customers fits the bill. As personal as a purchase may be, especially if it’s part of your identity like eyewear, we are still in the business of selling products. Clienteling drives values like customer loyalty, increasing engagement and capturing insights.

After giving a few examples across fashion and beauty of balancing tech vs. touch, I turned to relevant examples in vision: Hubble and Warby Parker.

And woah. Did I ever stir up some controversy! The audience of eyewear retailers are very annoyed with the likes of Hubble and Warby Parker. Maybe because those brands are doing the very disruption that is needed in the industry — likely at the expense of those in the audience.

A contact lens subscription service, AR and virtual try-on, or personalized 3D printed frames is how the customer wants to engage. They want personalization, automation and ease.

My intent was not to enrage the audience – and I have no regrets in doing so by telling them what they needed to hear, not what they wanted.

The vision industry may not be ready for disruption but the customer eagerly awaits it.