With Luxottica Wholesale N.A. President Fabrizio Uguzzoni
The Luxottica Wholesale N.A. leader sits down exclusively with EB Editor-in-Chief Erinn Morgan to share an inside look at how the company has pivoted to help eyecare professionals navigate the Covid-19 crisis, including key programs and actionable offerings.
Please tell us about the past few months at Luxottica during the Covid-19 crisis.
Fabrizio Uguzzoni: Here in the U.S., immediately once the outbreak started, we put in place our work-from-home strategy.
For our warehouses, factories, and labs, they’re operating because our business has been deemed as an essential business, so our lab in Atlanta is operating and also our factory in California is open—of course, in a very different way. We had to implement all of the safety protocols including social distancing, wearing masks, temperature checks, segregating the different departments.
We’ve had a great opportunity to leverage the experiences of our headquarters in Italy, which, unfortunately, got hit by the virus much earlier than we did here in the U.S. Our factories were closed just to implement their new safety protocols.
How is Luxottica helping ECPs in this difficult period?
Uguzzoni: When everything started, it was so new…we’ve had so many crises to manage in the past, but this was like never before. Immediately, the reaction was to stay close to our customers—listening to them, calling, and staying in contact with them. Placing orders was really the last thing I was asking of my team. It was to understand how the customers were doing and how they were managing the situation.
We started immediately to put in place programs…like flexible terms and conditions...to provide relief in that area of the business.
Understanding that PPE was starting to be in short supply and it was not easy to find something as simple as a mask, we started to ship masks to our customers.
In addition to providing both employees and customers with masks, we shipped over 1 million pieces of personal protective equipment to hospitals all around the world in an effort to do our part.
We created the Luxottica ECP Support Center, which is available to everyone—luxotticacovid19toolkit.com —where ECPs can leverage our tools to, first, protect their business in this period and then also to prepare for the restart.
It’s very simple but very comprehensive—five areas:
Stay connected with your patients—how to engage.
Stay up to date with Covid-19 and government support.
How to boost your practice through education. We created a virtual education program [called] Eyecare Visionary Training Series. Eighty-five percent of the training is redeemable for CE credit—from myopia and social media 101 to tips for building an online reputation.
How to prepare for reopening with a very clear strategy of what you need to do, including assortment, safety protocols, and cash-flow management.
Last but not least, how to stay connected with our teams...putting the independent eyecare professional first, because they are the backbone of our business.
How is Luxottica transforming rep presentations for eyewear?
Uguzzoni: That is a great question because, after all, eyewear is a very tangible product.
Luxottica was already investing a lot in the digital transformation of our business. What we created, first of all, is a very clear safety protocol for our sales consultants in the field when visiting customers.
We created safety kits for our reps and customers, so they have access to wipes, hydrogen peroxide, masks, gloves, and protective eyewear.
Every Luxottica sales consultant can present our collections remotely to the customer with a videoconference, sharing the screen, via their laptop or iPad.
We’re adding features like virtual try-on, or the ability to see the product with a 360-degree video. We equipped each of our sales reps with digital tools like Microsoft Teams.
What is your view of how the eyecare market will recover?
Uguzzoni: The question on everyone’s mind right now is, “How long will it take to get back to normal?” A lot of our customers have started to reopen. There are some very optimistic signs that we’re seeing.
The question now is more how the business will resume—how much of the business can we bring back from before the crisis, and how is business going to look in terms of conducting an eye exam, the social distancing, the safety protocols.
We will also have to manage all of the trends that the crisis accelerated that were already there—digital, online, people starting to get information online and purchasing in the physical stores and vice versa.
What is your outlook for the future of eye care and eyewear?
Uguzzoni: I’m extremely optimistic about our industry—as I was before the crisis. I believe the opportunity and the potential of our industry is still there, driven by demographics, creating greater awareness and access in underserved regions, consumers’ growing love for high-quality brands.
People are going to start to think—not even out of the box, because the box isn’t there anymore—and not completely scratching all the rules from before, but taking all the experience we have and applying it in a new world where we are playing with new rules.
—AS TOLD TO ERINN MORGAN
TRENDING VIDEO EB X LUXOTTICA
EB Editor-in-Chief Erinn Morgan sits down virtually with Luxottica Wholesale N.A. President Fabrizio Uguzzoni to learn about the company’s new initiatives. View the video here.