Industry retailer Cumbria Mobility refuses to sell mobility aids online but insists it is able to cope with the relentless competition from internet sellers by ensuring the service it offers its customers surpasses that of ‘box shifters’.
Managing director Stephen Cornwell believes that all mobility aid sales should be preceded by a full assessment and the business admits it will turn down sales if a product is not deemed to be suitable for a person’s needs.
The company has three sites and substantially higher overheads than its online competitors but Cornwell insists that it does not need to have an online sales platform to succeed.
“[Online competition] is absolutely horrendous. But it’s customer service that wins every day of the week. It’s buying local, it’s knowing you’ve got a company who you know and who you can call up and know that they’ll solve the problem.
“For us, online is a gateway to show you what is possible. If a client wants something specific but it wouldn’t suit their purposes then we’re honest and tell them that.
“If they want a scooter and they’re registered blind then we’d choose to walk away from that sale. We’re not here to sell, sell, sell. We’re here to keep people independent and safe.”
Cornwell cedes that Cumbria Mobility’s overheads are high and says it is frustrating that the fact the firm runs two stores means it has to pay full business rates, compared to an internet seller who does not have to pay such costs.
Sales director Steve Wright added that Cumbria Mobility has brought in standard procedures which allows it to get a better understanding of the customer’s home environment than some other businesses.
“We’ve got the clinical assessments considering their posture and comfort. It’s not a one chair fits all approach. We ask the clients what they want to achieve with the product. It’s ensuring the end-user gets the correct product.
“I feel the industry needs to be regulated more. Where it is at the moment, anyone can sell online if they’re out to make a quick buck.”