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If you’re not planning to sell hearing aids online, how can you compete with companies that do offer 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 pros and cons.   The differences vary depending on the types of products offered and the specific needs of the individual shopper.

Five advantages of a brick and mortar store

  • 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.  However, holding the product can offer some tactile impressions that cannot be matched online.
  • Online stores can’t provide instant gratification.  The ability to buy an item and bring it home immediately is a powerful motivator. Not every hearing aid can be brought home immediately, but the option for many patients does exist.
  • Consumers have begun to embrace buying from local merchants. Don’t underestimate how strongly some of your patients feel about helping their local economy.  Your demographic is keenly aware of the interconnectivity of their financial well being to the economic 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.
  • Your customer can speak directly to an expert about their purchase. You can provide information about the products and more importantly answer questions. Online stores offer answers to frequently asked questions, but that’s of no use to a patient if their issue isn’t listed.
  • You can provide service that is simply unavailable to online shoppers including:
    • Walk-in service hours
    • Loaner hearing aids – 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 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.