Fortuna Mobility bosses have stressed the importance of a personal consultation as opposed to online sales.
The due, Seb Bavetta, director, and Elaine Ferguson, mobility manager, detailed how although they believe there is nothing “intrinsically wrong” with selling online, it is not something they can see their business doing.
Speaking exclusively to AMP, Bavetta explains: “I don’t think we have any plans to sell online. We see ourselves as adding value in terms of advice and expertise. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with selling online, obviously, but that is not how we see ourselves.”
While Ferguson added: “We’ve seen far too many people who have made very expensive and dangerous mistakes and even sometimes over the smaller items like a walker or a rollator, even that, can be dangerous.
“People are just not aware of the choices available to them. Mistakes can also cause accidents, long term problems and be very expensive and detrimental to the person using it.”
Bavetta then commented on how although its online offering is important with regards to design, accessibility and product research, the personal consultation will always come out on top.
He said: “Our website has been recently been redesigned and what Elaine says comes through in this. We did not want to simply create a catalogue online. What we’ve done is to provide information to educate on different types of equipment and accessories.
“For instance our page on walking sticks does not list twenty walking sticks with prices but includes information to inform the reader. Our approach with our website, makes it more customer-centred rather than product-centred. So, although we include lots of product categories, we also have pages on medical conditions, so for example, if you have MS, it informs on what sort of equipment might help.”
He continues: “The customer isn’t necessarily someone who wants a walking stick, but someone who has had a stroke and needs advice on how to cope with their new disabilities. We are using it as a shop window rather than what a traditional online shop would be.”
Ferguson agrees, commenting on how although research helps product knowledge before a customer comes in to the store, their decision is often different to what they first had in mind.
She explains: “Nowadays many people do a lot of research on the web before they visit us and our website provides a lot of information for them. But, their final decision is still dependent on the good advice they receive from our staff and trying out the product for themselves. Sometimes, at that point, things can change. It’s very important to try before you buy.
“It is very important to me that our staff are trained as trusted assessors, DBS-enhanced checked and very knowledgeable which our ongoing, thorough training programme provides.
“When it comes to staff, we are very careful in our employment. We are looking for a certain type of person. It is quite a multi-skilled job, you’ve got to be a very good listener, you have to be happy to get your hands dirty, and you have to be happy to get involved in the equipment, get involved in the customer’s lives which can be tricky.”
The way they work is something they encourage all staff to follow.
Bavetta concludes: “We impress on them that we would rather that they turned away a sale than sell something someone the wrong thing. That is in our ethos for moral reasons but we also believe that it benefits us in the long-run as we want to be known as a company that can be trusted.”