In the past, the relationship between optometrists
and online direct-to-consumer companies has been tenuous at best—and downright contentious at worst. WALDO Vision
is on a mission to change that. With their new doctor partnership program, WALDO intends to bridge the gap and increase trust and connectivity between their company, the consumer, and optometrists, as the first online retailer to ensure doctors share in the sale and have visibility when their patients choose to buy online.
According to Vice President of Business Development Beth Samenuk, “Patients love our lenses. They love our customer service. They love our model and all the little ways we show them they are important to us. The way forward is to now connect patients with a local eye doctor because we know that good eye health begins with them, and patients are happier long-term when an eye doctor is a part of their overall vision care plan.”
What is WALDO Vision?
With a motto of “we believe in the power of positive vision,” WALDO’s goal is to provide consumers with the highest quality lenses
at the lowest price by removing complex distribution, which cuts both company and distributor mark-up and shipping directly from their factories. Historically, If a customer wanted to begin with a risk-free trial, they would receive 10 pairs of contacts for just $2.95 to cover the shipping after their doctor verified the prescription. After the trial, the customer can choose to continue their subscription by choosing the frequency of delivery that best fits their needs. WALDO subscription plans start at $19.50 for a 30-day supply of lenses, and there are never any shipping fees. Subscriptions can be modified or canceled at any time.
While navigating the process of ordering contacts online, the company’s founder, Ashleigh Hinde, recognized the vast inconsistencies in pricing. She found multiple different websites offering the exact same contact lenses at multiple different price points. She also saw discrepancies between eCommerce sites and brick-and-mortar OD offices.
This set her on a quest to use her Harvard MBA in management and background in pricing to solve the problem by offering consistent quality at a consistent price with WALDO contact lenses.
Hinde also envisioned a company with a very clear brand image and personality as well as a distinct mission of providing an unmatched and unbiased consumer experience.
“We run many different initiatives to show our love to our customers and to represent people of all walks of life—all countries, all colors, all genders.”
She added, "And we aren't afraid to let that be a pillar of our model, which is ‘everyone has eyes, and we're going to lead and innovate to champion better vision for all.’ ”
What patients are getting with WALDO contact lenses
WALDO began with the understanding that the most important thing, to both consumers and optometrists alike, is that their contact lenses be safe, of high quality, and comfortable
. Therefore, they partnered with certified suppliers to ensure WALDO contact lenses were top of the line.
Samenuk stated, “When we talk to anyone about how we're different, I think it starts first and foremost with the quality of our contact lenses. Our lens is a great quality material that patients and consumers find extremely palatable and comfortable. Because of that, we get great reviews. We have almost 15,000 reviews on Trustpilot
and a stellar 4.6/5 star rating. You don't get that by having broken trust or bad communication with the consumer that you're serving.”
From the beginning, WALDO realized the necessity of working closely with eyecare professionals and has used in-house optometrists and opticians. They are now expanding this effort with both their doctor partnership and doctor ambassador programs.
According to Samenuk, “We want it to be that hand-and-glove type of partnership and think this could be game-changing for the entire industry. For patients to have the best eye health they can possibly have, it's got to start with a doctor, and we need them to be involved in this process.”
She added, “Our doctor partnership program is essentially a way for doctors to become partners of WALDO and receive a fitting set they can utilize inside their office with their patients every day and see those lenses on the eye, be a part of the discussion, be a part of facilitating the prescription, and be a part of offering something new, convenient, and affordable to their patients. Contact lenses do not have to break the bank and this is sometimes where that doctor-patient relationship erodes.”
WALDO charges no fees and doctors are not required to purchase upfront inventory or outlay cash or capital to be able to facilitate these subscription orders. Everything is managed through the doctor portal, making it very seamless and easy to use.
Benefits of becoming a WALDO Vision partner
Knowing patients will always resort to searching online for the highest quality prices with the lowest prices, WALDO has taken the revolutionary approach of rerouting patients back to optometrists for an annual eye exam
as well as giving them a portion of the profit when their products are purchased as a result.
“We're the first online company to give doctors a piece of their due sales when a patient purchases either through WALDO online or in the office.”
Continuing, she stated, "Allowing sales that happen online to be to the doctor's benefit from a profit margin perspective, that's something that's never happened. These online channels have historically been off-limits to doctors, but very profitable for manufacturers.”
With a commitment to pricing transparency across all channels, Waldo guarantees the price offered online will also translate to the price offered in your office, so doctors won’t have to worry that they are being undercut. “We're not making doctors pay for fitting sets or trial lenses. We're not making doctors pay or go half with us on patient acquisition costs. And we market each practice locally through the ads we run on social media, which is something we excel at,” said Samenuk.
The WALDO doctor partnership offers five primary benefits:
- Being connected through WALDO’s doctor network to patients in search of a local OD
- The ability to offer high-quality, low-price contact lenses in your office
- Price transparency across all channels
- Acquiring new patients through advertising campaigns and marketing initiatives
- Ongoing revenue generation and better patient LTV as the platform keeps patients engaged long-term
Generate new patients through WALDO’s doctor network
Constant competition from big box and big retail and private equity makes new patient acquisition the biggest challenge most doctors are facing today
. When you become part of WALDO’s doctor network, they will connect you with patients in your area who need an eye exam and direct them straight to your office. From a new patient perspective, partnering with WALDO Vision can be beneficial in many scenarios: optometrists opening cold and just starting out, practices who have just hired an associate OD who needs to build a base of patients, practices looking to increase their younger demographic, and even retiring practice owners looking to increase their business prior to selling.
“WALDO can benefit ODs by bringing new patients to the office. We have a huge number of patients that are already wearing WALDO contact lenses or who have worn WALDO contact lenses that we need to connect with a local doctor,” said Samenuk.
“We're able to drive new patient traffic into doctor's offices, and we don't charge for that. There is no fee to be a part of the doctor partnership program.”
Doctor ambassador program
WALDO wants to put doctors on a pedestal in a very public way by connecting them with patients on their website and social media through videos and features. Through their doctor ambassadors
, patients learn the importance of an eye doctor.
“I'm very excited about the doctor ambassador program we've recently launched. We envision our ambassadors being the mouthpiece of the brand to their peers and to our everyday consumer, being a voice in every box that gets delivered with a healthy eye tip or a concept or a need-to-know stat on bettering their eye health,” Samenuk explained. “And consumers can go to our ‘Meet the Experts’ page
and look at all the doctors we have working with us. It’s a way to highlight optometry and the work that optometrists are doing every single day that I don't think they get enough credit for, and put better eye health and great eye doctors on the map.”
What WALDO wants optometrists to know
In closing, Samenuk stated, “What I want doctors to know is that we truly want to be a good partner and work with them to change the way the contact lens industry operates. We are the first online company to help them recapture patients who either want to buy online or have historically bought online, and prevent walkouts due to a lack of options or patient perception."
"If doctors are looking for a way to compete or recapture revenues lost to other entities, we're the company that's going to help them do it through patient engagement, driving new patients to the office, and communicating the benefits of eye health. Consumers' needs and desires are changing and evolving, and we look forward to paving the way for how contact lenses and other eye-related products are offered through doctors offices across the US.”