The mobility industry has had to contend with some monumental market changes over recent years, not least the growing prevalence of online shopping and the challenges of blending it with conventional retail models.
But the growth of digital isn’t only about ecommerce. Dealers have had to get used to customers using the internet as an information resource. As a result, they are more educated than ever before and will often arrive in store knowing exactly what it is they are after. And while there may be times when their research leads them down the wrong path, or prescribes something different to what an expert would suggest, it is just part and parcel of consumer behaviour now.
The knock-on effect of this information-rich society is that consumers demand transparency and this, too, has implications for the industry. Only recently a website was launched that claims to be the first resource to offer definitive price-comparisons for Britain’s biggest stairlift companies.
It offers real-time pricing information for organisations and consumers across the country, giving the latest service information and costs. Interestingly, big-name manufacturers, including Acorn Stairlifts and Companion Stairlifts, have wholeheartedly endorsed it and even participated in its development.
Meanwhile, another website designed to be like a Which? review service for mobility aids and independent living products is currently asking consumers to help shape the structure of it ahead of its launch early next year. The Rate it! project is led by Rica, Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living (LCIL) and Enabled by Design, which want to create a way of allowing people to more effectively compare and review mobility aids. They believe there is currently a gap in providing information on products for disabled people.
Information is central to the buying process and, as consumers seek fair and impartial content, the industry will need to be ready for it.