As retailers all over the world start to re-open, how is the UX going to change for you as a consumer?

In most countries, opticians have been given hygiene guidelines by their governing bodies and this, coupled with a good dose of common sense, is shaping the new retail environment but is this what the glasses buying public are looking for?

There are two parts to the optical purchase; medical and styling. You visit the optician if you have a problem with your eyes or if you are due for an eye test as a routine medical check up. A thorough professional eye test gives you a gauge not only of your ocular health but can also spot other medical issues, so a regular check up is extremely important. As a customer, you trust the eye doctor to prescribe the right correction and to recommend the right lenses for your vision.
If you need or want new frames then there is an element of choosing the right glasses to house your prescription and sometimes an aesthetic choice based on the type of lens that you need but your choice of glasses is largely based on how you look and feel when you try them on…..

Esme in Crimson from Centena

Even before the Corona Virus pandemic, we were entitled to high expectations of cleanliness from our optical stores, so adding gloves and masks is a no-brainer. It is hard to imagine taking all the necessary measurements and making all of the adjustments without getting up close and personal. Necessity being the mother of invention, technology is moving swiftly to find alternatives to doing this by hand with cumbersome instruments.
Online eye tests exist but they are no substitute for a one to one with an optician however the smart money says that that time is not too far away.

When it comes to eyewear, the general guidance to opticians is to give a UV or Ultrasonic clean to every frame before and after anybody touches them to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness. Didn’t that happen before?

The knee jerk reaction of many retailers has been to take the frames out of temptation’s way and to empty their shelves, bringing a small selection of frames to the customer, hand-picked by the staff. That does not sound like much fun.

So what is the solution?
There is no arguing with the fact that hygiene and safety are the priorities but some opticians are finding great, creative solutions. While some stores have never allowed customers to select and handle frames themselves, others are only now displaying eyewear behind glass or in cabinets so that touching is kept to a minimum. Other stores are showing fewer frames but majoring on brand experience, for example, using a screen to display a brand film and showing a few representative pairs of spectacles from the collection.

For an excellent list of independent eyewear stores around the world check out our retailer list here. Some nimble stores have taken their styling skills online to offer a top experience with an eyewear stylist from the comfort of your own sofa, check out Gogosha Optique in LA, for example. For an exemplary in store experience you cannot beat Georgetown Optician in Washington DC.

As we transition out of lockdown and back into a world with greater freedom of movement, we value every experience, every trip out through our front door, so why would a visit to the optician be any different? Of course it is a medical trip, of course it needs to be safe and hygienic but it also needs to be enjoyable.

Horace — Matte Centena

Inspired by our heritage and twenty years of passion for eyewear - Jason and Karen Kirk created Kirk & Kirk.