The march of internet retail is a plight for many traditional mobility dealers in today’s market and some of the sector’s most experienced business leaders believe it could force bricks and mortar players to change their offering to stay afloat.
Jason Watling, centre manager at The Mobility Aids Centre, who has been involved in the industry since he was a teenager, believes that in the face of the internet, companies in the mobility sector must adapt their offering the same as businesses in other industries are doing.
He told AMP that the mobility sector could experience a shift towards the automotive industry where businesses often make their money by looking after customers into the long-term future.
“Your workshops and service bays will be where the longevity is. Maybe if you’re lucky, somebody buys something off the internet, brings it in for repair, and you keep the customer.”
Looking ahead, Watling predicts that a likely change could be service centres popping up to look after customers as opposed to traditional retail outlets.
“People do need local businesses but whether they’ll be showrooms I don’t know.
“Maybe we’ll see a system like Argos where something’s seen and you can come and collect it but you might be able to get it fixed or adjusted there.”
Most mobility dealers have an on-site technical area where they can service equipment but there are few who sacrifice shop floor space for a larger service-bay area.
In April The Hearing & Mobility Store Ltd, which trades as The Mobility Store, moved its engineering facility to a larger building in order to meet increased demand.
The new 2,500 square foot unit in Wroughton is expected to triple the dealer’s engineering capacity and help it to improve the business’s efficiency and customer service it can offer.
Aside from the rise of service providers, Watling predicts that mobility scooter insurance will become “much heavier” and hopes that it will become compulsory soon.
He added: “And eventually, will somebody will find a big enough set of boots to police our industry?
“To look after all the people who are trying to do the right things, not just old dealers, but also new dealers popping up and doing the right things.”