Eye Trend – a group of five practices in Melbourne – will open its first ‘ZEISS Vision Expert’ practice at Eastland Shopping Centre in the suburb of Ringwood, next month in early December.
Eye Trend co-founder and owner, Helen Lee, said this is “the third chapter” in the evolution of the business that she took full ownership of in 2007.
With a vision to lead the business into a new era of primary eye care and optical dispensing services, Ms Lee has created a sustainable business model with departments to handle lens edging, warehousing, information technology, accounts, and marketing – the latter with her daughter Charlotte at the helm.
Now on strong foundations, she said the business was ready to take the next step, by partnering with Eye Trend’s long-standing supplier, ZEISS, to open its first ZEISS Vision Expert practice.
The partnership means that while retaining independent ownership and branding, Eye Trend’s new practice has been purpose designed and fitted with ZEISS equipment and supplies the full range of ZEISS branded frames and lenses.
Ms Lee says her relationship with ZEISS goes back to her childhood when, growing up in Hong Kong, she was first prescribed glasses. She remembers seeing the ZEISS logo in the optical shop her mother took her to, and although her family could not afford its lenses at that time, she felt a strong connection with the brand and has always remembered it.
In 2016, when Ms Lee visited ZEISS Adelaide on a business trip, she visited ZEISS and met the team. In 2018, Eye Trend sourced its first ZEISS premium lenses.
“ZEISS has very similar values to us in that they are about quality over quantity, and they really value innovation,” Charlotte Ng explained. “So for us, it just seemed like a natural partnership.”
As a ZEISS Vision Expert store, Eye Trend aims “to enhance the patient in-store experience by setting up superior, ndividuali and ndividualiz touchpoints throughout the complete customer journey.
“We’re offering an innovative, contactless vision testing experience. We have the latest ZEISS equipment to do eye health testing, with diagnostic and imaging instruments that enables our optometrists to look deeper into the structures of the eye to accurately detect and monitor eye diseases and eye conditions.
“When patients step outside the consultation room, there is a ZEISS lens bar, where they can explore the full lens range, including tinted lens samples. Our staff consults and recommends the best vision solution for their individual vision needs and lifestyle.”
Once the patient has chosen their frame, the ZEISS Visufit 1000 3D digital platform is used to capture individualised frame centration data measurements to define the frame and lens make-up.
“So we have really thought about how ZEISS can support us and help us elevate the customer experience, from the moment they step into our store until the moment they leave – and even beyond; soon patients will be able to access the 3D image we’ve captured, to virtually try on more frames and select ZEISS lenses in their own time.””
Family, Community First
Eye Trend chose to open its ZEISS Vision Expert store in Ringwood because of the community-minded, family-focussed atmosphere that has been created by the shopping centre owners, Queensland Investment Corporation.
“Eastland Shopping Centre is quite different to the other larger shopping centres in Melbourne… they’re not just focussed on what they can do within their shopping centre, but what they can do to bring the community together. And of course we are family centric as well. Having spent much of my time in store when I was younger, many of our customers have either seen me grow up or have grown up with me; I hope they feel they can come to this store for all of their eye care needs.”
With one consultation room for adults and the other specifically designed for children, as well as a children’s corner she said, the aim is for the new Eye Trend store to become the first point of contact for all ages.
“In addition to paediatric vision testing, we will also provide paediatric vision therapy and management. The children’s corner has a display of children’s eyewear, and we also have an area where they can play vision focussed games to train their hand-eye coordination. We also have an LED screen to further promote interaction and keep kids engaged with relevant, age-appropriate messages about eye health.’
Charlotte Ng paid credit to her mother who “has a great deal of passion for helping others, especially in raising awareness in eye care” despite not being an optometrist.
“Mum is the visionary of the business. We have a great team of optometrists, optical dispensers and retail staff in store who really value and respect my mum. She always gives them the opportunity to explore and further their career pathways within eye care, and to continuously learn and educate themselves, so that we are able to provide better outcomes for our patients.
“And thanks to our relationship with ZEISS, all of our staff are very knowledgeable about ZEISS products. Yes, there has been additional training for our optometrists and staff who work in the Eastland store, but I think this (training) will help us in our other stores as well –we don’t want to only provide an elevated experience in our ZEISS Vision Expert store, we believe in providing the best possible experience for all of our customers.
Helen Ng agreed. “After all the struggling (experienced in developing the business), I have found that at the end of the day, if your heart’s open to your customer, you gain the energy, and the money will come… I never push anyone to sell, but as my staff share my genuine care for our customers and see the value and quality in our products and services, they’re happy and willing to share this with our customers. I really hope our new ZEISS Vision Expert store in Melbourne will have more people talking about how we treat our customers”.