Amcon's Leatherette Frame Storage Trays

Amcon’s Leatherette Frame Storage Trays

When we introduce a new item to the Amcon product line, occasionally our suggested intended use differs from how the product is actually being used in the office. Our new Leatherette Frame Storage Trays in black and wine, which we brought in in 2012, are a great example of an Amcon product being used in a new and creative way.

When we conceived of the Leatherette Frame Trays and sent our specifications to the manufacturer, our intention was to make a presentation tray for opticians to present frame options to their customers.   However, what we have learned is that the office staff are offering the trays to the customers to use while they walk around to pick out the frames they like. They put them in these trays and it’s easier than carrying several pair in their hands. They then bring the tray to a table where they discuss them/price them/try them on/etc… The Leatherette Frame Trays have become a great solution in preventing frames from getting dropped, smudged or “accidentally” put in someone’s hand bag.

Perhaps this creative use of the Leatherette Frame Trays explains why they have become so popular.  Nonetheless, the demand for these trays has not been lost on us.  In the 2014 Amcon catalog, we introduced some additional upscale frame storage trays that could be used in a similar fashion.  Be sure to check out the new 6-Cavity Frame Presentation Case  and the 8-Cavity Frame Presentation Case with Mirror.

Do you have any creative unconventional uses for an Amcon product?  We’d love to hear about it.

Posted by: juliegriffey | April 14, 2014

Five Amcon products with new lower prices for 2014!

Does it seem like everything just keeps getting more and more expensive? Home prices are going up, college tuition is soaring, even groceries are getting costly. Some things ARE getting more expensive. But not everything.

Each year when we put out the new Amcon catalog, we examine our costs to determine how to set our prices. Sometimes our cost for a particular product actually goes down. Either we find a vendor that offers us a better price, or the vendor’s cost goes down and they pass that saving on to us.

When our price on a product decreases, often times we can lower our catalog price. Five products with new, lower prices in our new 2014 catalog include:

1) The Stethoscope
2014 price: 14% lower than 2013

2) Nitrile Exam Gloves – Power Free
2014 price: 7.5% lower than 2013

3) Optx 20/20 Hydro Tac Reading Lenses
2014 price: 31% lower than 2013

4) “See Wees” Wrap Around Sunglasses for Infants and Toddlers
2014 price: 11% lower than 2013

5) The Alcohol Dispenser
2014 price: 27% lower than 2013

And these are just a few of the many products with lower prices in 2014. Be sure to check out the new Amcon 2014 catalog that went in the mail last week, and you can see for yourself. All new products can be found on the Amcon web site as well.

2014 Amcon catalog

2014 Amcon catalog

Around this time of the year every year, many of us at Amcon are breathing a huge sigh of relief. Our new catalog is done! Hot off the press – it’s in the mail and might have even landed on your doorstep.

Each year putting together the new catalog is a monumental undertaking. We evaluate our product offerings, analyze our costs and source new items.

This year we introduced over 150 new items. Sometimes ideas for these new items come from our own industry research, but in many cases ideas for new products are based on your requests.

This year was no exception. New categories of products and new colors and quantities of existing products were introduced based on your requests.

• Last year our color offerings for our very popular Simply Kleen cloths were two purples, a blue and and a grey – but this year we mixed it up, adding colors that we have never carried before: red and kelly green. The choice of these colors was motivated by customer requests.
• We also added new quantity options for our temple tips. Previously we only offered a 2 pair and a 100 pair package. Customers told us that they wanted a quantity in between 2 and 100, so we added a 10 pair pack of the temple tips.
• In 2013 we introduced the 15 mm Soft Silicone Round Tear Drop Nose Pads. Customers loved them, but also wanted some additional sizes like 13mm and 17mm. In 2014 the 13mm and 17mm Soft Silicone Round Tear Drop Nose Pads are making their debut in the Amcon catalog.
• Over the year we learned that our customers needed office basics such as Kleenex brand tissue, Curad bandages, and Benadryl, so we brought these items in to make Amcon even more of a one-stop-shop.

Let us know your thoughts about the 2014 Amcon catalog. We love your suggestions. Your ideas are what help us evolve our business!

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 31, 2014

Plinko Fun at the Vision Expo East Amcon booth

It’s been another busy year at the Amcon booth at Vision Expo East. The Amcon sales reps who were in New York City this weekend reported heavy traffic with barely any reprieve. As far as we’re concerend – this is great news. We love seeing our customers in person, hearing their thoughts about our product line and learning more about their needs.

Amcon has been attending Vision Expo East for over 20 years, and while a lot has stayed the same over the years, we always like to introduce something new. This year was no exception. If you stopped into our booth, you may have noticed our updated booth design that we think looks more sleek and modern and also allows us to display additional products. In addition, we invested in an overhead banner to make it easier for everyone to find us.

We also brought a little fun to the booth with our new Amcon plinko game. If you happened to visit our booth at Vision Expo West in Las Vegas this fall, you may recall the Amcon roulette wheel. When shoppers placed an order of $100 or more, they got to spin the wheel to determine their prize, e.g. free shipping, $10 off, etc…. We had so much fun playing this game in Vegas, we knew we needed to do something fun like this for New York.  It seemed to us, though, that a roulette wheel only goes with Vegas and we needed  a game that would work with New York. Hello Plinko!

Plinko is a game where you drop a disc into a maze and it bounces around through the maze in a random pattern until it lands in a slot at the bottom.  (Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know what plinko was.  I mean – I had seen a plinko game – but I didn’t know there was a name for it.)   Just like in Vegas, customers got to take a turn playing after placing an order of $100 or more to determine their prize.  As you can see from the video – it’s hard to tell who enjoyed the game more, our sales rep, Susan, or our customer!

Thank you to everyone who came by to visit us.  We hope to see you throughout the year, otherwise see you next year!

Amcon's booth at Vision Expo East 2014

A rare quiet moment at the Amcon booth.

Amcon's booth at Vision Expo East 2014

Amcon’s booth at Vision Expo East 2014

sticker for kids eye exam

One of Amcon’s stickers designed for kids.

It’s amazing how one day your kids look completely normal and the next their hair is so long you can’t even stand it. When my husband started calling my 4-year-old son Justin Beiber and we started speculating about the types of rodents that were dwelling in the back of my daughter’s hair… that was the final straw; I had to get these kids a haircut.

Is a haircut really that big of a deal? Apparently so because all three of them whined and complained the whole way. But once we got to the salon and they saw the treasure chest of toys and lollypops, they started singing another tune.  Getting a haircut changed our ordinary day into “the BEST DAY EVER.”

Do they not realize that these lollipops and plastic gizmos cost less than 10 cents each and will disappear into a crevace within my minivan in the next five minutes? Apparently not, because they were super happy and already asking about when they could go back to that haircut spot.

Giving a kid some type of trinket when they come in for an appointment makes a big impression and can completely change their attitude about being there.  Which is exactly what happened when we went to see the pediatrician.  The doctor asked my son a question, and my son followed up his response with: “now can I have some stickers?”

Does your office give out trinkets to your young visitors?  Amcon has beefed up our offerings.  Now we are your source for all the little doodads that make kids excited about returning.  Check out our “Charlie the Bee Can See” coloring book, crayons, eye poppers, eye rings and stickers.  I know this may not get you that excited, but take it from me… it will make a four-year-olds day.

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 16, 2014

Time to stock up on refrigerated optical pharmaceuticals

thermometerAlmost everyone in the United States will agree that 2013-14 has been a long and cold winter.  In St. Louis we had a record 5 snow days and many days with highs in the single digits.  But I shouldn’t complain.  My friends from Minneapolis told me that this winter they had 40 days where the high temperature was not above 0 (degrees Fahrenheit).  That certainly gives you some perspective.

But times – they are a chagin’.  In St. Louis we are seeing signs of spring, and in the southern part of the United States temperatures are hitting the 80s.  Before too long, it will actually be hot.

So what does this mean to us in the optical industry?  This is the best time of year to stock up on refrigerated pharmaceuticals such as Fluress and Altafluor, Proparacaine and Vigamox.   The temps outside are like a natural refrigerator, so this is the ideal time to ship them.  And what’s even better… some of our pharmaceuticals that need to be kept cool are actually on sale right now (e.g. Proparacaine).  So what are you waiting for?

On a side note?  Does your practice use a lot of Phenylephrine?  We have a short dated lot that is almost half-off.  Take advantage of this great price and stock up for the summer.  (The lot expires 10/31/14). 

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 10, 2014

Is it okay to wear contacts when swimming?

swimming in contacts

Keep your goggles on if you swim in your contacts.

Over the weekend  my husband took our kids to the local rec center pool for a swim.  Prior to leaving, he packed up his contacts to put in for his workout and then the swim.  For some reason – this got me thinking – is it dangerous to wear your contacts when you swim?  I am guessing that our rec center pool isn’t the cleanest one in the whole world.  But I would assume it’s treated with enough chlorine to kill just about anything that could harm your eyes.

So I did a little bit of research and discovered that wearing your contacts while swimming can be very dangerous.  In fact, in one case, a young woman lost her sight in one eye due to swimming (in a hotel pool) with her contacts in.  Apparently, “acanthamoeba keratitis, a parasite found in almost all soil, fresh water and sea water” got between her contact and her eye causing a terrible eye infection which lead to her loss of sight in that eye. Horrible.

Nevertheless, I still do it –  I wear my contacts swimming all the time.  I mean, how else am I going to see?  But after learning about the danger associated with this practice, I will definitely be more vigilant about wearing some very tight goggles when I go swimming… that is until I schedule my LASIK procedure.

Posted by: juliegriffey | March 3, 2014

Introducing Three New Features on the Amcon Web Site

New features in the My Amcon area of the Amcon web site.

New features in the My Amcon area of the Amcon web site.

Last week I wrote a post about the new “Create Order from Order History” Feature on the Amcon web site.  Hopefully some of you had a chance to use it, and found it to be a convenient way to build your order based on items you have ordered in the past.  Well – the new features don’t stop there. After meeting with the Amcon sales reps a few weeks ago, our web team discovered a few improvements we could make to the web site to make our sales reps’ and our customers’ lives easier.   So here they are.

Three new features on the Amcon web site:

1) Smarter searching.  Perhaps you have noticed that all of the Amcon stock numbers are in the format of: 2 letters, a dash, then a set of four numbers.    We learned that when our sales reps are on the phone and trying to quickly look up products to check pricing, they often omit the dash when typing in the stock number which failed to bring up the intended product.  We have now solved this issue and searching for a product via stock number with or without the dash will bring it up.

2) Quicker searching.  We also learned from the Amcon sales reps that when searching for one product after the next, the reps had to scroll to the top of the page and click into the search field to do the next search, i.e. the focus was not returning to the search field.  With a bit of code trickery, we fixed this as well.

3) Easier customer info updates.  Want to change your billing info, edit, add or remove ship to addresses? Just log into the Amcon web site and go to the “My Amcon” page if you are not delivered there automatically.  On the left-hand-side, you will see two new links: “Update My Profile” and “Update My Password.”  Click on these links to either update your profile information and/or your password.   (If you can’t remember your password – please keep in mind that you can change your password on the Login/page using the “reset your password” link.)

We hope that these new features make your Amcon on-line shopping experience more efficient and more pleasant.

Create Your Amcon Order from Order History

Create Your Amcon Order from Order History

I absolutely hate going to the grocery store. I mean I pretty much buy the same stuff every week, so why can’t they just set it all aside for me so I can walk, pay and head out the door? Of course this wouldn’t solve the problem of having to put away the groceries once I got home – but it would certainly be a lot easier than walking down the same aisles week after week grabbing the same products, while trying to keep a toddler from climbing out of the cart.

Of course I am aware of the fact that many online grocers allow shoppers to build their order based on previous ones. However that newfangled technology is not available at grocery stores in our neck of the woods. Plus you pay a premium for it.

If any of what I am describing resonates with you… Amcon feels your pain, and can offer you a solution.  We recently added a new feature to our website which allows shoppers to build a new   order based on previous ones.  Can’t remember what chin rest paper you usually order?  No big deal – just pop over to your order history and reorder the same one.

To access this new feature, all you have to do is login to the Amcon web site.  Click on “My Amcon” in the top right corner. Now click on the link under “Products” that says “Create Order from Order History.”  The items that you will see displayed are from your last 10 Amcon orders. All you have to do is enter the quantities you desire, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Add to Cart” to build your order.  After your add items from your Order History you can continue browsing the Amcon web site and add or remove items from your cart.

Need to place an order with Amcon?  Try out this new feature.  We would love to hear what you think.

Posted by: cindyletchworth | February 19, 2014

Shipping your optical supplies when the weather is cold

It’s been cold. I mean so cold my dog’s afraid to go outside to do her business in the morning. She races out the door, then promptly turns on her paws to make a quick return to the warmth despite the fact that she has a job to do. Amcon is located in St. Louis Missouri and as a child I remember cold, hard winters. In January of 1982, we had a storm so big the city shut down for about 3 days. The recorded snow measurement was 13.9 inches at Lambert Airport and 18 inches in the city. Even my dad stayed home, and he never let anything stop him from driving. He could navigate just about anything, but this snow left us all buried under drifts.

The last few years in St. Louis have been mild and we have hardly seen temperatures below freezing, much less run into a streak of bone-chilling weather. This year, however, we are finally getting the bitter cold and snow I remember. In some ways it is probably good. The news reported it might help contol some insect populations, but not mosquittos. They said it hasn’t been cold enough. Not cold enough?? We’ve been getting “arctic blasts” with highs in single digits and wind chills of -20 degress, every other week, and they last for days at a time. Wouldn’t even a hibernating insect like the mosquito feel this punch?

Right now many states are battling severe ice and snow, or have suffered from temperatures rarely seen in their area. To all of those folks living with winter’s fury, we send our best wishes. Living without power and passable roads, gets frustrating fast.

This weather is making many things difficult including shipping items that could freeze during transit. In our case it would be things like liquids and pharmaceuticals. If you are ordering these types of products, from Amcon, please remember that in order to safe-guard your merchandise, these items can’t be shipped during freezing temperatures, whether it is here or in your neighborhood. We do, however, keep watch of when the temperatures will warm. Once it is safe, in our region and yours, we will ship the products out.

This winter has left all of us hoping for an early spring. We may not get it, but at least we can start dreaming about all the promises that warmth brings. In the meantime, we will keep our mittens and our thermal attire in ready reach, as we battle through the next round of arctic chill.

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