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Optimizing Your Optics Line
Photography aficionados don’t have to be the only customers you appeal to. It’s possible to also boost your consumer base with binoculars, spotting scopes, and telescopes.


DCF HS Series Roof-Prism Binoculars
Pentax added the Mossy Oak New Break-Up camouflage version of its popular DCF HS series roof-prism binoculars in 8x36 and 10x36, for those who want to blend into their outdoor surroundings.
Minox/USA’s New Porro Prism Binoculars
When you think of Porro prism binoculars, you probably think bulky and awkward. Not so with Minox/USA’s new Porro prism binoculars—sleek, compact models with a modern ergonomic design.
Nikon's Monarch Binoculars
Nikon's Monarch Binoculars
Nikon's ED50 Fieldscope Spotting Scope
Nikon’s lightweight ED50 Fieldscope spotting scope is perfect for in-the-field performance, while the company’s Monarch binoculars top many retailers’ best-seller lists.
Zeiss DiaCover Protective Sleeve
Selling accessories, such as this Zeiss DiaCover protective sleeve (made especially for the Diascope spotting scope) brings in additional sales.
Diagram of Binocular Parts
Retailers need to have a knowledgeable sales staff to sell fine optics and to point out necessary features for eager consumers (parts diagram courtesy of Sightwave).

Insight from an Optics Sage

Dan Thralow, CEO of Thralow, Inc. (which owns www.binoculars.com, www.telescopes.com, and www.spottingscopes.com) thinks he has found the perfect way to sell the scopes and binoculars people need, alongside the tripods and adapters used to hook up this type of gear to cameras. “When it comes to purchasing binoculars, we think there’s no better place to buy than on the Internet,” he says. “Binoculars.com, for example, offers the world’s largest selection of binoculars. If there’s a binocular, we’ve got it. And our goal for Telescopes.com is for it to be the destination to find a complete selection of telescopes.” While he used to have a brick-and-mortar store that sold sunglasses, Thralow decided to jump on the information superhighway when it came to the move to specialty optics. “We’re located in northern Minnesota, and if we were to have a specialty store located in northern Minnesota, it wouldn’t survive,” he says. “If you’re going to have a presentation of products to the level we have, the Internet presents it in the most efficient manner.”

Another reason the Internet lends itself to selling these products is that, unlike his former inventory (sunglasses), spec-heavy equipment such as specialty optics can be purchased without the tactile experience. “People like to try sunglasses on, but with binoculars and telescopes, people can buy them without touching them,” he says. “It’s a lot of specs and listening to what friends have purchased. And the Internet is all about community. If you go to our websites, you can read review after review, or you can read specs till they’re coming out your ears, and buy based on that.”

Educational expertise helps as well. “We believe strongly in content on our sites, and believe it helps people make decisions, whether it’s reviews or just wizards to help people narrow down a product,” says Thralow. “But we educate them about things that may seem to me or you to be basic, like the size of an objective lens. Why would you want a larger objective lens? What’s the advantage of having a small objective lens? What does the 7x mean in 7x50 binocular? We’ll provide basic info like that, and even get into more elaborate detail on how take photographs of celestial objects in your telescope and digital imager and then transfer it to your laptop, for example.”

Customers are driven to the home pages of the Thralow sites by advertising and word-of-mouth. “We hope they at least go to our sites to learn about what’s available, even if they end up buying with someone else,” he says. “We really want it to be a portal, so when people are thinking about buying these products, they’ll check us out before they make a purchase.”

Thralow also pays Google and other search engines “a lot of money” to buy listings and maximize the chance that a binocular or telescope buyer trolling the web will end up at their sites. “We also use an affiliates program,” he explains. “If your website links to Binoculars.com, you get a percentage of every sale that came from that link We have an army of more than 10,000 affiliates, and they’re all compensated based on their ability to drive traffic and sales.”

Buyers can determine what the top sellers are on each site’s respective home page, according to Thralow (he cites the Nikon Monarch and Canon IS lines as being steady performers on his binocular site). “Some of the home page items we place by hand because we think they’re new or good products that deserve exposure, and some of the spots are determined by computer algorithms we use, which means they turn fast, people are interested in them, and they get good reviews.”


   







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