M&S dives deeper into eyewear with opticians rollout in-store and online
Eyewear is set to be a bigger category for UK retail giant M&S with the company announcing the rollout of its M&S Opticians service across its UK store estate.
The service will launch in 55 stores over the next 18 months after a successful trial, during which the service received a customer satisfaction rate of 96% and a customer recommendation rate of 96%.
Recent openings at Longbridge (Birmingham), Metro Centre (Gateshead), Hedge End & West Quay (both Southampton), Bluewater (Dartford) and Culverhouse Cross (Cardiff) have kickstarted the rollout and increased the M&S Opticians footprint to 12 stores, with a further 43 to follow by April 2023.
The company is clearly also hoping that the opticians will increase footfall into its stores as they offer another strong reason for consumers to visit a branch with extended dwell time.
The UK opticians market is worth £4 billion.
All 55 branches will be operated by opticians and hearing care provider Owl Optical, with an “extensive range of M&S branded and third-party branded frames” on offer.
Brands include Aspinal, Calvin Klein, Carolina Herrera, Fendi, Guess, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, Lacoste, Mulberry, Police, Prada and Ray-Ban, among others.
The company said the launch is “all about diversifying the customer offer by introducing relevant services that give customers even more reasons to shop at M&S. Furthermore, M&S is able to introduce these complementary services within its existing store footprint, utilising the space available across its vast store estate”.
The company has an undeniable advantage – one also enjoyed by department stores like John Lewis and the UK supermarkets – in that existing space can be re-purposed and used more efficiently to add major new attractions.
The company said the rollout comes at an “important time for the opticians industry as more people prioritise their personal health and wellbeing following a year of missed appointments”.
It cited figures showing that in Q2 2020, more than 10,000 people in England, Wales & Scotland missed out on essential eye care , as eye health was seen as less of a priority for UK consumers. But a recent survey showed 64% of people saying they’ll now take their health more seriously than they did before the pandemic.
In addition to. the physical experience in-store, customers can book appointments online, as well as view, purchase and try on glasses via the ‘virtual try on’ tool.
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