John Bell & Croyden, a pharmacist and mobility shop serving the Royal Household and many wealthy clients, has launched a range of initiatives to pull in new customers by removing the stigma from mobility products at its Central London base.
The warrant-holding retailer is hoping to show customers that mobility can still be fun and that they will be treated the same whether they are buying an incontinence product or a premium fragrance from the pharmacy aisle.
The move is part of the business’s mission to claw back the significant investment it made in refitting the store two years ago, which saw turnover dip from £12m to £9m because of building disruption and a reduction in shop floor space.
Led by operations director Robin Winfield, the initiatives have helped to draw in previously sceptical customers who have been put off by ‘traditional mobility shops’. One scheme has been to install the rear half of a Jaguar onto a wall so that customers can try loading different folding boot scooters.
John Bell & Croyden also has on show a range of extravagant aids including a £45,000 gold plated, Swarovski adorned Sport Rider scooter and crystal-encrusted walking canes. But far from being simply a novel, impractical product they are intended to act as a tool to show customers John Bell & Croyden’s approach to mobility. They have proved a strong marketing asset for the company.
“Mobility can still be fun, it can make you smile, it can be modern, it can be flash, it can be sexy,” Winfield says. “Some of those products are not to everyone’s taste, we understand that, but it wasn’t about that. Because you’re in a mobility scooter it doesn’t mean you want to have fun any less than anybody else. Everybody always talks about the scooters we have and they smile, because it is quite funny and it is at the extreme end of the scale.”
The business has also made a number of minor tweaks that have been very well received. For instance, the shop has relaxed and adapted its tone of voice – its incontinence aisle is branded ‘in control’, for example.
Another small but effective initiative is the specially made carrier bags John Bell & Croyden packs its walking sticks in. Winfield explains the reasoning: “Often if you buy a walking stick they’ll just tie a plastic bag around it to confirm your purchase. But we designed a special carrier bag so that when you buy a walking stick it doesn’t feel like you’re a second-rate customer. We wanted to show how we view immobility.”