Mobility dealers trading on high streets today have less reason to be fearful of competition from online equipment sellers than they did a decade ago when internet retail in the industry was taking off.
That’s according to one independent dealer, whose recently launched business has gone from strength-to-strength based on a traditional physical approach to retail.
Rob Wilcock, who has set up Love Mobility in Shropshire, formerly worked as a recruiter and has experienced industries where margins have been squeezed and service has been sacrificed, similar to the mobility trade currently.
He believes that under the cost pressures, the mobility industry is evolving and this is most evident among internet traders.
Compared to the upheaval caused by the dawn of online mobility retailers over a decade ago, Wilcock believes the market has begun to level out and find a natural balance.
“It used to be that retailers would run scared of the internet guys. But now you can see that the likes of CareCo are opening retail shops,” he said.
“They know that a good service is important and that opening a retail shop isn’t a backward step as people once thought. There will always be a place for a £99 wheelchair from Amazon and I don’t begrudge people who want to do that.”
Wilcock thinks that nowadays, bricks-and-mortar dealers have less reason to be fearful of online sellers than they previously did.
Such thin margins, he said, can make for risky trading conditions where just one large run of product returns can seriously impact on a company’s bottom line.
He said that people are realising that mobility is as much about service as it is about equipment and ‘box-shifters’ – even the ones with the heaviest firepower – are gradually being forced to evolve.