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Independent Optometrists Fall Behind Larger Chains In Digital Presence

But they may make up for it by making greater use of location data, says Buzzboard.

More than half of local optometry operations do not have any sort of mobile or digital presence – and that’s a problem, says a new report from Buzzboard. But they do have a lead in location data usage. Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.28.41 PM

The percentage of optometrists who have a mobile presence is better amongst the largest chains at 80 percent, but gets lower as you move down to mid-size chains and truly local independent shops. Midsize chains have a slightly better rate than independent stores at 58 percent, putting independent optometrists in dead last.  Faced with competition from the larger chains, and from ecommerce giants like Amazon and Warby Parkers, independent optometrists are in a precarious position. But they also have a lot of potential to capture a digital audience in a way that some of the larger chains are unable to.

The landscape is even worse in terms of website robustness and discoverability. A large percentage of optometrists across all sizes lack basic search engine optimization features. For example, only 58 percent of independent stores have a meta description when you search for their site, only 30 percent of midsize chains have any sort of meta tag compliance, and zero percent of the largest chains have their location listed among their metadata.

The results are slightly better when looking at social media presence. Half of all independent optometrists have Facebook page but most do not have a Twitter or any other social media accounts.

“As BuzzBoard continues to analyze huge volumes of data, the pattern is pretty clear: most small independent business are not yet demonstrating a commitment to offering their consumers a mobile friendly experience,” Buzzboard board advisor Neal Polachek told BIA/Kelsey. “It’s really too bad since there are so many really good platforms out there that can make this happen pretty quickly”Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.27.05 PM

X-Factor

So how are these small businesses supposed to compete with large chains that have numbers on them in almost every area? The answer lies in location data.

Due to the fact that the largest optometrist chains have so many locations, it’s much harder for them to handle their location data in a specialized way. For example, Buzzboard found that zero percent of the largest chains have a location page while 70 percent of independents do. The two are also on roughly equal footing when it comes maps and direction services on their websites.

By leveraging their lead in location data and their localized focus, smaller independent chains can revitalize their digital presence and get a leg up on the competition. Despite the increasing digitization of our world, people still like to shop in-store. If independent optometrists want to survive, they’ll have to make use of the strengths they have in the local world to do it.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.