I saw one thing pop up in a discussion a little while ago regarding ‘certificates of authenticity’ for various optical products. Some could be for frames, lenses, coatings, photochromics, or whatever else. These things seem somewhat innocuous, but have you ever stopped to think what their real purpose is? Let’s run through a hypothetical scenario, and see who these certificates are really designed to benefit. (Hint: It’s not you).
So, let’s say that we have a photochromic lens made by Company T that comes with a “Certificate of Authenticity” that you’re supposed to give the patient, so that way they know it’s the “real thing”. So, you hand it to the patient, and that’s it, right?
Well, not really.
So, let’s say the patient decides to go register that card. They input their name, address, email, and all that other good stuff so they can register their lenses. They’re happy to do this because often they get some kind of reward for doing it (register for a chance to win, or some other thing). So now, Company T knows that your patient uses their product, and has all of his contact information. Also, Company T is owned by Company E. Company E has several online channels that sell direct to consumers – which we also refer to as “your competition”. Now your customer starts getting all this information (via emails or regular mail) about discounts and special offers for a ‘second pair’ or for their ‘next pair’ at one of these online outlets.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that the lab you bought the branded product from may also be reporting back to Company T about who you are, how much of their product you bought, and all of those details. That makes it possible for them to rank you on your sales of their products without ever speaking with you. They can even relate that with the CoA registration to see what customers were likely yours as well, just based on location.
So, is this some kind of far-fetched conspiracy theory? Or does it sound evil enough to actually make a whole lot of sense? Especially from large companies that have their hand in every aspect of the market. This is part of what you end up buying into when you decide to offer certain major brands. They use you to promote the product while they quietly harvest customer information, then eventually they have enough to just go direct themselves.
Is an ‘authentic product’ really something that people care about when it comes to lenses? Or do they just want something that works? While they may care about having that little status symbol on their frame, when it comes down to products like lenses, coatings, or photochromics – how much do the patients care about having a ‘real, authentic product’, and how much do they just want something that works?
The point you need to consider here is that do these products having ‘authenticity cards’ do anything whatsoever to help your business? Do patients even know that’s a thing they should be getting? Do they care? If your answer is ‘yes’ – then why not do it yourself? Make your own brands, and support your own products. Ultimately, if they have a problem with those lenses, who are they coming back to? We both know it’s going to be you – so why not control the entirety of the interaction, instead of passing their details along to ‘Big Brother’.
You need to make sure you’re not giving away too much information about your patients to people that are competing against you. Let’s say for a minute that you have someone come in to your store from a big online eyewear retail, and they say to you the following:
You can sell our frames in your store. Authentic, official product. It even comes with this certificate. All you have to do is give the patients this card, and that’s it. The card tells them to come register on our website and give us all their contact information. We aren’t going to do anything to try and steal the customer from you, honest. We just want their name, address, email, and phone number so we can thank them for buying from you. And definitely not to solicit business for our website. Trust me.
How’s that any different from what Big Optical does? The only difference being they have a few different products that aren’t just frames. How do you think this is any different? As the saying goes, knowledge is power. When you’re a massive company, you have access to lots and lots of information. This helps you make better decisions since you have so many sources giving you so much information, you can easily exploit it. What kind of sense, then, does it make for an independent optical shop to want to simply direct their customers to register their contacts details with someone that competes against them?
Before you give you more of these so-called “authenticity cards”, you should probably stop and think whether or not they are providing a benefit to either you or your customer. Does your customer gain anything by knowing that their lens is an ‘authentic’ whatever? Do they care? If they have a problem, you know they’re going to be bringing it back to you anyway. Since you’re going to have to solve the problem, what good does the brand name do you? You may as well not just give away your customer information, and take care of your customer yourself.