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How mobility retailers can sell more things

Andrew Stafford Default Blue crop

How can your business sell more things? A simple enough question but trickier to answer. Andrew Stafford, joint managing director at marketing firm, Default Blue, suggests what you can do to ensure the till keeps ringing and your mobility business is staying ahead of competition.

How do you sell more stuff? Retail companies across every sector consistently invest millions in researching consumer psychology, trends and initiatives traders can employ so customers buy more items in-store. Whether it is lighting levels or the specific music played in-store, retailers across the board use a multitude of forward-thinking, fanciful techniques.

But the mobility industry is, as we know, a bit different to most other sectors. It serves a separate kind of customer and as such businesses need to think of slightly different ways of encouraging purchases as well as considering a number of fundamental retail rules. 

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Andrew Stafford is joint managing director of Default Blue, a retail marketing agency that specialises in the healthcare sector, and is therefore well-placed to advise mobility dealers on sales boosting ideas.

Small mobility retailers should not be afraid of walking into stores like Boots to see how they lay out their stores. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Small mobility retailers should not be afraid of walking into stores like Boots to see how they lay out their stores. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

 With a marketing background at the likes of Boots, Sainsbury’s and WH Smiths, Stafford is well versed in helping the largest high street names to raise revenues. But the agency he now co-runs is geared specifically towards the care sector and in his words, Stafford thinks of Default Blue as “Europe’s leading marketing and design specialist for incontinence”.

There are three key considerations for mobility retailers to bear in mind when implementing a strategy encouraging spend, Stafford says. Firstly, how to get more customers in-store. Secondly, how to encourage them to spend more money when they are there. And thirdly, how to get them to come back afterwards.

So, how do you get more customers into your shop in the first place? According to Stafford: “lots of ways”. He explains that the first thing to look at is your branding and make sure you look like you mean business: “It’s important to look at other retailers in the market and learn from them. I’m lucky enough to have worked for Boots for many years.

Make no bones about it, you will be judged by your website. If you don’t have a website, people don’t know whether you’re trading. If you have an impressive website then for the customer that looks like an impressive business”

“If you’re ever in doubt of what to do in your store and how to improve it, go to a big retailer like Boots. Yes, they’re different and have huge ranges of products and lots of money to market their business, but you can learn a lot from visiting those stores.”

It is essential for your brand to look professional and consistent. Stafford advises that dealers should present their business in a way that makes people want to visit.

That sounds like common sense, but a number of the sector’s retailers fail to invest in shopfronts or displays that make units look inviting. The most important thing to make your store inviting, Stafford says, is branding and brand identity.

He comments: “Your brand identity will appear everywhere, from websites and social media to brochures, videos and conferences. It’s really important that you’re consistent with your branding so consumers get a consistent message about your professionalism and identity.

“I would say, just go into a store like Boots and compare it to yours. You’ll learn so much just by walking around and looking at how they do things differently.”

It is worth considering however, before customers even approach your physical store, the first thing they will do before buying a product or visiting is look your business up online. Any mobility retailer’s online presence is absolutely essential and it is an area well worth investing in. The first element of your online presence, Stafford says, is your Google profile.

He says that the first thing a consumer will do when looking for a product is search for it online after which the business’s Google profile will pop up. But often, Stafford says, these profiles are not as good as they should be.

He advises: “Make sure it links to your website, make sure it shows your opening hours, phone number, photographs and customer reviews. If you can get regular customers to review you then all the better. If you don’t have a good Google profile then people won’t think you’re in business.”

Next to consider in regards to your online presence is your website. It is your online shop window and the first thing people will see after viewing your Google profile.

Stafford says: “Make no bones about it, you will be judged by your website. If you don’t have a website, people don’t know whether you’re trading. If you have an impressive website then for the customer that looks like an impressive business. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just needs to be accurate and have the basics right.”

For Stafford, a website has to do three things. It has to tell people who you are, it tells people what you do and why you are worth visiting. If yours successfully does each of those, when a customer lands on your page they will know they have come to the right place.

Next, the website needs to have a call to action and direct people, whether that is to visit your shop, call you or email you. Surprisingly, businesses have to tell consumers what to do.

There is also an opportunity to be had in making the jump to selling products on your website. Stafford believes bolting an e-commerce operation onto your site is easier than it might seem.

Providing you have a decent infrastructure on your physical store, an e-commerce operation can be relatively easy to service. All dealers must be aware that people are increasingly buying online, especially incontinence products. 

Aside from a retailer’s online presence, an essential part of a dealer’s model should be the customer journey.

Stafford explains: “It’s a fairly simple concept, you just have to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What do they see from the minute they start their shopping experience to the moment they finish? What does that person see, hear and experience when they come into your store? Is there signage saying ‘Welcome’? Think about outside as well as inside the store. One of the really important elements of why people still go to shops is the interaction with people in-store.”

Where customer journey is concerned, some of the best examples on the high street are the supermarkets and major retailers. Stafford believes the mobility industry, generally, falls short of the standards set by other retail sectors.

Often, money is not invested into shops and as a result many are unwelcoming and products are not displayed well. Consequently the customer experience suffers and Stafford says there is no shame from visiting stores like Superdrug and learning from the best in the business.

Finally, when thinking about how to get customers to return to your store, it is important to remember that people often go into shops because they want an experience. If you have promotions and new products and point people in the right direction they will discover a lot and are more likely to visit you again in the future, Stafford says.

He adds that you must first satisfy a customer’s existing needs so you have got to have in stock the things they want to buy at the right price.

“The next thing is to encourage cross-category purchases, so get them to buy things they didn’t know they wanted or needed until they came in. Everyone loves a bargain and it’s one reason for people to visit you. You can have gondola-end promotions, mid-gondola promotions, things in prominent places, impulse purchase units by the counters.

“Tailor those kinds of products to the areas of the shop where they’re likely to be bought. Again, look at the big retailers.”

While many dealers in the business have always done things a certain way and might not be open to changing their retail models, it is certainly worth considering some of the tips Stafford puts forward.

Modernising your approach can help drive traffic away from competitors and into your stores, increase your revenue streams and importantly, help you customer to find solutions to meet their needs. Ultimately, rethinking your retail approach can create a win-win situation and importantly, help you weather the increasingly tough high street conditions all dealers are feeling at the moment.

Don’t hide incontinence products – it drives traffic

Incontinence drives store traffic. That’s according to Andrew Stafford, joint boss at Default Blue. He says: “Certain categories of products in supermarkets will drive traffic, for example, bananas and baked beans. People go in for those products. Businesses feel a bit embarrassed about putting incontinence products out on display or they tuck them around the back of the shop to give customers a bit of discretion.

“I think we’re generally getting past that taboo. Don’t hide it, tell people it’s OK to buy those products. Think about what products can go next to them, what do you have to walk past to get there? This is an area where people are looking for help so have advice and information there.” With 3.4m people over the age of 64 in the UK experiencing urinary incontinence, it is definitely a point to consider.

An online presence is no longer optional for retailers

We are often told that older people do not use the internet. But that is a myth, says Andrew Stafford, joint managing director at Default Blue. In 2018, 90% of all adults in the UK described themselves as recent internet users and 80% of people aged 65-74 described themselves as recent users.

Nearly half (44%) of people aged over 75 described themselves as recent internet users, Stafford says, drawing on a recent study. In 2018, 78% of all adults bought something online. In the older aged groups (over 65) most people accessed the internet on tablets. With all other ages, smartphones are the most popular device.

Stafford says: “This is really important in terms of your presence online. If you have a website, it must be optimised for smartphones and tablets. 59% of all adults aged 50-65 in the UK use Facebook and they’ve not really got onto Twitter.

“You shouldn’t ignore this way of communicating. Older people are definitely online and are increasingly online and if you do not have a good online presence then it’s something you really need to think about.”

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Joe Peskett

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