Over the past 15 years, countless business-to-consumer (B2C) websites have burst onto the web as companies realize the benefits of streamlining the shopping experience both for the consumer and their business. Online sales have sky-rocketed in many industry verticals previously dominated by brick and mortar establishments, catalogs and call centers. Today, instant online shopping is as easy as clicking a button for a consumer, but it has taken years for the business-to-business (B2B) side to master the complexities of working with manufacturers, vendors and suppliers, and to understand the user experience and click-to-purchase feature.
None of this is truer for a complex industry such as eyeglasses, a market that has been previously dominated by the consumer’s need to have to physically enter a store location to try-on frames and make a purchase. Until recently. Groundbreaking prescription eyeglass companies saw an opportunity to cater to the customer online – by educating them, giving them more options to choose from and providing top-notch customer service to ensure repeat buyers.
Here are four ways B2B e-commerce is simplifying the supply chain and in-turn increasing a positive consumer experience for the prescription eyewear industry:
Educate the Consumer
With consumers having the ease and option of shopping from home, opportunities have been created to educate consumers on the products being purchased. Relying on your website to not only sell items, but to also explain the benefits and recommend the best options for the consumer is key in increasing the click-to-purchase probability, and gives the consumer a positive experience and reason to purchase from your website again in the future.
Streamline Manufacturing Processes
Passing down value to customers through online sales requires manufacturing to become as automated and lean as possible. Being able to compete and produce high quality eyewear requires constant and sustainable processes to ensure future growth. Equipment used today in manufacturing facilities is much more efficient than in the past – cutting down time, while also improving efficiency and quality control. With vendors continuing to make improvements in machinery used in the manufacturing of prescription lenses, it enables eyeglass companies to provide not only value to customers, but also the best quality and a wider selection of new product offerings at the same time.
Automate to Improve Efficiency
The manufacturing of prescription eyewear was done previously with equipment that would last for years before needing to be upgraded to newer technology. This has changed considerably over the last 15 to 20 years, with the introduction of automation all leading to improved delivery times, production schedules and overall efficiency.
With automation, every year the eyewear industry is seeing new, improved technologies that increases the quality of eyeglasses. Additionally, automation in the factory gives us the ability to extend and expand our product and delivery offerings. There are many types of automation used in today’s factories from basic material movement, to management software automation to route work, and remote dashboards that allow you to manage all aspects of the manufacturing process from your fingertips.
In general, the manufacturing industry is moving towards a smarter manufacturing concept. With the integration of different management software solutions, we can predict outcomes, enabling management to not be consumed with the reactive decisions they would normally encounter on a daily basis. This in turn reduces waste and increases productivity.
Prepare for the Future and the Unexpected
At Zenni Optical, we are constantly preparing for the future by continuing to increase our production capacity capabilities with the best technological options available, which in turn will help lead to the ongoing growth of our company. By utilizing our vendors’ support with layout, design and innovative technology we can improve our overall capacity and end-product. Having strong strategic partners is crucial to the success of the manufacturing process. And being able to predict our yearly growth is key to how we prepare for the increased production capacity needed to deliver our products to our customers when promised.
While it is important to utilize the best, most cost-efficient equipment and proactive processes in the manufacturing facility to handle production volumes, the most critical takeaway when preparing for the future is to remember every action has a reaction.
For example, I can remember a time at a previous job, when my management staff was happy to inform me of a milestone achievement in the daily production numbers, only to find out the next day shipping was not prepared for the increased production and 25 percent of the previous day’s completed orders did not ship due to capacity issues in logistics.
When preparing for total capacity, you must assess all aspects of the supply chain to ensure orders can be manufactured, packaged and most importantly, delivered. Work flow must be evaluated based on the future maximum production of your factory to ensure each area has room to support future increases in manufacturing. Smaller areas in the factory will, and do feel, the effects and challenges never felt before when it comes to increasing production capabilities. Preventative maintenance can become overwhelming, but is vital to producing consistent products that keep up with delivery times and quality.
By making B2B e-commerce part of your business, you may find that your business is able to improve and streamline operational efficiencies, reduce costs and improve satisfaction across the entire supply chain and consumer segment. On the other hand, companies that do not adapt to the increasingly digital world may fall behind. Find a solution that adapts to the specific needs of your organization to have the greatest positive impact on your entire supply chain, and more importantly your customer base.
Ric Lee, Chief Manufacturing Officer: Zenni Optical
Ric Lee serves as Zenni Optical’s Chief Manufacturing Officer, overseeing the company’s manufacturing technology, customer service and supply chain operations in the United States, Mexico and China, as well as global shipping logistics and overall product quality assurance. With more than 30 years of experience, Ric has comprehensive knowledge of all phases of production management, automation, consulting, finance and business operations inclusive of the optical industry. Prior to joining Zenni in 2016, Ric worked for a variety of eye care industry players including EGMA LLC, VisionWorks, EyeMart Express and Eye Care Centers of America, Inc.