Mobility manufacturers that invest in developing new products not only keep themselves ahead of competition but also help dealer partners to gain an edge in what is an increasingly competitive market.
That’s according to Karma Mobility’s general manager, Mark Duffield, who thinks that in a market “packed with competition”, it is important for both suppliers and retailers to differentiate themselves by providing higher value products.
Duffield claims that research and development (R&D) is one of the most important departments in Karma and says that products are made in response to market opportunities.
“The Flexx wheelchair is a great example of how Karma has grown as a company.
“In the past it made reliable lightweight wheelchairs but has now added great-looking configurable models to the range.
“I think suppliers that are committed to R&D provide solutions to problems that would not otherwise exist.
“Suppliers would offer very similar products to retailers which would make it very hard to stand out from the crowd.”
Naturally, money is one of the main barriers to Karma’s R&D strategy. Duffield notes that getting the right product for the market in terms of price and function is critical.
He says: “Karma Mobility makes a large annual investment in R&D and has to balance this with the return it makes from the projects it chooses to go ahead with as it needs to make the return to be able to maintain the investment.
“It is also an investment in people who have not only to be able to design but also take on board suggestions for improvement from the market and also make the design commercially viable for all who are concerned.”