How to Compete with the Online Sale of Hearing Aids

Many people have engaged in the online shopping versus brick and mortar shopping debate. Both brick and mortar stores and online merchants have certain pros and cons that differ based upon the types of products offered and the specific needs of the individual shopper.

If you are not planning to sell hearing aids online, how can you compete with companies that do?

5 Advantages of a Brick and Mortar Store

  1. A core benefit is the most obvious one, the ability to touch and see objects in person. Online stores can provide the consumer with pictures and videos, but actually holding the product can provide some tactile impressions that simply cannot be matched online. Particularly when it comes to the sale of hearing aids. The ‘in-store” experience simply cannot be matched online.
  2. Instant gratification, the ability to buy an item and bring it home immediately. Not every hearing aid can be sold and brought home immediately but the option for many patients does exist.
  3. The ability to support local merchants. Don’t underestimate how strongly some of your patients feel about supporting their local economy. Your demographic is keenly aware of the interconnectivity of their financial well being to the financial well being of those around them. Even the younger demographic has slowly but surely begun to embrace the concept of “buy locally” with everything from food to clothing to home goods and so on.
  4. Your customer can speak directly to an expert about their purchase (in case there is any doubt that means you). You can provide information about the products and more importantly answer questions about the products that are bound to arise. Online stores provide answers to frequently asked questions but that’s of no use to a patient if their question isn’t listed.
  5. You can provide service that is simply unavailable to online shoppers.
    • Walk in service hours
    • Include batteries with the sale and mail the batteries to the patient’s home.
    • Keep an ample supply of loaners, always welcome if your patient will be attending a once in a lifetime event days after his hearing aids need to be sent out for repair.

The most important thing to remember about service is that no two people will define service in exactly the same way. Ask questions and teach your staff to ask questions. Find out from your customers what you could do to provide a better experience and then do it.

Your demographic is concerned about their health, they have a hefty amount of discretionary income and they will be more than happy to spend it on your services if you give them plenty of reasons to.

How I Bought a Chandelier

And yes this has everything to do with buying and selling  hearing aids.

Times have changed. Consumers are buying en masse online and retail is feeling the effect. Read more in The Atlantic about the “Great Retail Apocalypse”.  Unfortunately, many hearing healthcare providers are failing to fully grasp how that’s impacting the hearing aid industry. If anything, hearing aid consumers are a bit behind other consumers when it comes to using the internet to research and to make a purchase.  As we age, we’re less likely to want to figure out new ways to buy what we want.    But if by learning a new trick or two, the average consumer can (in their mind) save thousands of dollars, they’ll figure it out and in a hurry.

Buying a Chandelier

Back to the chandelier…I am in the market for lights that will hang over an island. Store displays are limited, so I started my search online. I knew the color, size and shape that I wanted. Eventually I found just what I was looking for. I read the reviews about the lights and one reviewer mentioned seeing the exact same light for half the price.

I did a reverse image search and sure enough found the exact same light for more than 50% off the price of the original light, however, the manufacturer was not the same. Initially I figured the light was somehow different, so I researched the new company and found that the first company manufactures a few of its products under a different name. It sells one product line to higher end stores and one to discount stores…. same light.

I ordered 2 chandeliers that should arrive today.

Price, Quality, Quantity Pick Two

What does this mean for you? It means that your consumer is potentially online learning everything they can about hearing loss and hearing aids. By way of an example, I pulled the trigger on my chandelier purchase (all things being the same in my mind) based on price.  That does not mean I bought chandeliers for $1 a piece.  It means, I had a certain quantity that could not be changed and a certain quality that I wanted.  I would’ve paid the original price but I was willing to spend time searching for the lowest price possible.  Something that the Internet makes extremely easy to do.  And if it works for other purchases they’ve been making, why wouldn’t they at least consider trying the same approach for a product that costs thousands of dollars?

Purchasing decisions are based on selecting 2 of the following 3 options (price, quality and quantity).  You can select 2 of those options, but not all 3.

If you can’t compete on price

And you can’t compete on quantity (you are selling either 1 product or 2 products)

Quality is all you have left.

Educate them about the benefits of seeing you and why they shouldn’t buy hearing aids online. Amazon sells hearing aids online and Alibaba, Amazon’s biggest competitor sells hearing aids from China.

I am your demographic and if I was in the market for a hearing aid, I would take the same approach to purchasing a hearing aid that I did to purchasing a chandelier.  You need to give me compelling reasons not to treat a hearing aid purchase in the same way that I would treat the purchase of a chandelier. In fact, if you can’t give me a list of 5 reasons that I shouldn’t buy my hearing aids online for the lowest price I can find, then you have a problem that needs to be resolved today.

5 Ways to Compete with Online Hearing Aid Sales

Many people have engaged in the online shopping versus brick and mortar shopping debate. Both brick and mortar stores and online merchants have certain pros and cons that differ based upon the types of products offered and the specific needs of the individual shopper.

If you are not planning to sell hearing aids online, how can you compete with companies that do?

Here are 5 advantages that a brick and mortar store has versus their online counterparts.

 

  1. A core benefit is the most obvious one, the ability to touch and see objects in person. Online stores can provide the consumer with pictures and videos, but actually holding the product can provide some tactile impressions that simply cannot be matched online. Particularly when it comes to the sale of hearing aids. The ‘in-store” experience simply cannot be matched online.
  2. Instant gratification, the ability to buy an item and bring it home immediately. Not every hearing aid can be sold and brought home immediately but the option for many patients does exist.
  3. The ability to support local merchants. Don’t underestimate how strongly some of your patients feel about supporting their local economy. Your demographic is keenly aware of the interconnectivity of their financial well being to the financial well being of those around them. Even the younger demographic has slowly but surely begun to embrace the concept of “buy locally” with everything from food to clothing to home goods and so on.
  4. Your customer can speak directly to an expert about their purchase (in case there is any doubt that means you). You can provide information about the products and more importantly answer questions about the products that are bound to arise. Online stores provide answers to frequently asked questions but that’s of no use to a patient if their question isn’t listed.
  5. You can provide service that is simply unavailable to online shoppers.
    • Walk in service hours
    • Include batteries with the sale and mail the batteries to the patient’s home.
    • Keep an ample supply of loaners, always welcome if your patient will be attending a once in a lifetime event days after his hearing aids need to be sent out for repair.

The most important thing to remember about service is that no two people will define service in exactly the same way. Ask questions and teach your staff to ask questions. Find out from your customers what you could do to provide a better experience and then do it.

Your demographic is concerned about their health, they have a hefty amount of discretionary income and they will be more than happy to spend it on your services if you give them plenty of reasons to.