Mobility scooters will not be leaving showrooms any time soon and remain a profitable product segment for physical retailers despite doubts among some distributors.
That’s according to a number of key industry suppliers seeking to reassure the industry that as long as they continue to rely on scooters themselves, dealers can count on the equipment to turn a tidy profit.
Despite a feeling among some mobility dealers that scooters are becoming a slightly more difficult product to sell because of competition from online sellers, the equipment still arguably forms the backbone of the mobility industry.
Most would agree that the scooter market, and especially the class 2 segment, is in rude health. But there are concerns among some that scooters are reducing in profitability as margins thin, causing some retailers to question whether the equipment can still be a money-maker.
One of the market’s largest suppliers, TGA, certainly thinks scooters are still in their heyday. Managing director Daniel Stone says that scooters remain the mainstay of the supplier and are “vital” to its future.
TGA was responsible for bringing one of the first scooters to the UK, Stone says, and is still looking to go from “strength-to-strength” where the sector is concerned.
Kymco’s managing director, Mark Hermolle, agrees that scooters will remain critical for manufacturers in the near future.
What’s more though, he believes in their profitability for dealers: “Mobility scooters will always play a big part of any mobility retailer’s business and will continue to help deliver a profitable business for retailers. However, this will be blended with other products such as beds, chairs and powerchairs.”
Similarly, some suppliers think that for as long as scooters play a key part for manufacturers, then they will also help drive profits for dealers.
Daniel Thaxter, Drive DeVilbiss’ product manager, says that scooters continue to play an important part within its wide portfolio.
He comments: “Our vision is; to bring new concepts and innovations to fruition, provide value added features that are a true benefit to the user, differentiate to existing products in the market, allow the user a wide range of choice and the best chance to find the right product for their needs. This will then contribute to increased profits for sellers.”
For Electric Mobility’s managing director, Jonathan Hearth, it is as much about the business selling the equipment as it is about the products themselves.
“Mobility scooters continue to provide high sales volume and high margins to dealers who can sell,” he says. “For our business they are a vital part, representing around 50% of annual sales.”
Likewise, both Pride and Pro Rider, identify scooters as the core part of their business and so are investing in new innovations to ensure their products remain profitable for dealers.
While suppliers in the market will naturally insist their products are profitable for both themselves and their trade customers, it is impossible to ignore the fact that so many of the largest manufacturer’s still rely on scooters so heavily.
With scooters producing half of annual turnover for some key suppliers, it makes sense for manufacturers to find ways of maximising the margin on scooters.
For example, a number of suppliers have brought out both automatic and manual versions of the same folding scooter, thus offering different price points. This helps retailers to remain flexible on price, options and features and can help to increase profits.
While retailers may feel margins are squeezing in some areas, as long as scooters remain profitable for manufacturers, we can be quite confident that they still present a strong opportunity for retailers to make extra cash.