Ordering contact lenses from online retailers can be a lot cheaper than ordering contact lenses from your optometrist. In general, most optometrists charge retail price for a box of contact lenses. If the rise of online shopping has taught consumers anything, it’s taught them the bum deal paying retail prices really is. It doesn’t take much more than a quick Google search to realize the retail price on most products is significantly higher than it needs to be. Some of the inflated cost of paying retail from a brick-and-mortar store comes from the increased overhead involved in running those operations (overhead which online websites don’t have to pony up for). Some of the inflated cost of paying retail form your optometrist is nothing more than retail stores pursuing profits from every possible avenue. Online shopping has taught us this is true from every single field of commerce, even the medical field. In fact, online shopping has taught us that medical supplies can often be purchased at an even greater discount than most other products when you cut out the middleman. Contact lenses are no exception.
A brief review of these two points makes it clear that ordering contacts online is superior to ordering contacts from your optometrist’s office. The only question remains- what’s the best website to order your contacts from?
There is no lack of online retailers looking to carve out their slice of the online contact lens market, including the e-tailer Vision Direct. But does Vision Direct hit all the right notes to set itself apart from the competition, or do they fail to provide the incentives necessary to woo you away from habitually purchasing contacts from your doctor’s office?
Let’s Talk Price
We can discuss product selection all day and night, and we’ll cover that point shortly. Likewise we will discuss the ease of using Vision Direct’s website, or lack therefore of, in just a moment. But for now let’s take a minute to highlight the biggest point of consideration among most would-be-buyers… price. If one thing is going to convince the average contact lens buyer they need to start purchasing their prescription products online it’s going to be significant cost savings. Does Vision Direct provide those cost savings, or do they fail the most important test for a would-be online retail success story?
We’ve already established that buying form ANY online retailer will provide you significant cost savings compared with buying from your optometrist, so let’s simply compare Vision Direct’s prices with its online competition. Prices listed are for a single box of Acuvue Advance with Hyrdaclear.
- Contact Lens King charges $17.45 a box.
- Just Lenses charges $19.95 a box.
- 1-800-Contacts charges $26.99 a box.
- Vision Direct charges a base price of $39.99 a box.
As you can see, Vision Direct charges significantly more than all of its online competition. Vision Direct charges over double the price you will receive buying from Contact Lens King, the least expensive online retailer of contact lenses. In fact, when you buy from Vision Direct you will pay just about the same price as you would pay buying from your optometrist. This isn’t good news for Vision Direct.
Now, the above-listed prices aren’t the final word on what you’ll spend buying from any of these online retailers, including Vision Direct, as all of the above online retailers offer their share of discounts and opportunities for savings on their base-line prices. Do these discounts help Vision Direct’s case? Running the numbers is illuminating, to say the least.
Vision Direct offers four major areas of price reduction.
1. Volume discounts. If you purchase a large volume of contact lenses at one time you will save money on your order. This is the rough equivalent of a “year’s supply” discount you might receive from your optometrist. Even with this discount the price of a box of Acuvue Advance lenses only drops to $34.99 a box, still double what you’d spend on the base price from Contact Lens King.
2. Rebates. Certain contact lens providers offer mail-in-rebates when you buy their products in bulk. These rebates are offered by Acuvue and NOT by Vision Direct, and as such are available from any of the above online retailers, so we will ignore them.
3. Free Shipping. A nice perk, but this will only take about $5 off your order. Seeing as the per-box price difference between Vision Direct and all of their online competitors is more than $5, this perk is irrelevant. It’s also worth noting most of the above companies offer free shipping on orders over a certain total price point.
4. 25% off your first order. Once again this is a nice perk with some drawbacks. It’s only available on your first order, which means you can only take advantage of it once. Second, it will only drop the price-per-box of those Acuvue Advance lenses to $26.24 a box, which hovers around what you would spend if you bought these lenses from the second-most expensive online contact lens retailer, 1-800 Contacts.
It’s important to note all of Vision Direct’s competitors also provide similar, and often superior, discounts on the same products. No matter how you crunch the numbers, Vision Direct is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than all of its competitors.
Needless to say, this is a huge mark against Vision Direct, one that’s nearly impossible for an online retailer to recover from.
Where Vision Direct Succeeds
Even though it sounds counterintuitive, most market leading websites in the world of online retail do not offer the lowest prices on their products. Take 1-800 Contacts for example. 1-800 Contacts is the leading website for buying contact lenses online. It’s the most popular, the best known, and the single biggest contact lens selling website. Yet they don’t sell contacts at the lowest possible price, far from it. In the above comparison 1-800 Contacts had the second highest price of the companies listed. So why is 1-800 Contacts the market leader for selling contact lenses online?
There are a number of reasons why an online retailer will dominate its market, and price is almost never one of them.
- The website can be the first to enter the public imagination, often through aggressive and timely advertising campaigns. This is why 1-800 Contacts sits at the top and is able to offer higher prices than its competition.
- The website can offer a superior selection than its competitors. It doesn’t matter how well known a website is, if it doesn’t carry your band you’re not going to buy from it. All of the above websites offer the same exact product line, which means this isn’t a point Vision Direct can win.
- The website can distinguish itself by offering a superior client experience. This is the arena where Vision Direct could win, but where the website really drops the ball.
Let’s cut to the chase – Vision Direct’s website is unattractive, unappealing, and utterly conventional. It does nothing aesthetically to distinguish itself from the competition and to invite client appreciation and satisfaction. It doesn’t provide any interesting or engaging method of organizing and presenting its products. And worst of all, it doesn’t offer any expanded functionality or added value.
If Vision Direct offered extensive client resources, such as informative articles, helpful and engaging videos, unbiased reviews and other worthwhile pieces of content, the website would have a shot at transcending its decision to price its products as poorly as possible. Vision Direct does none of the above. By failing to go the extra mile to justify its unfavorable pricing, Vision Direct provides little to no reason to provide it with an endorsement.