What plans do you have for 2019?
Last year was incredible, it created a firm foundation upon which we can build. Coming from a manufacturing background, I’m excited about the plans we have to develop our own products.
What did you find worked well in 2018?
With such a fantastic summer last year, we were staggered by how many customers came in from all over the UK. As tourists visiting Yorkshire and Harrogate, many customers didn’t have a local mobility shop so popped in, usually on their way to Betty’s team room.
What are the main opportunities you anticipate for 2019?
If this summer is anything like the last one, it has to be mobility products. With the demise of MobilityHire4U just before the Great Yorkshire Show last year, we were selling wheelchairs out of the box. They were going out as quickly as we were unloading the van outside the showroom. At one point we had a queue!
What do you predict will be the main challenges for the market this year?
There is so much hype about mobility scooter accidents in the press so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a change in the law. If you’re selling mobility scooters to the public you have a duty of care. We would welcome legislation over the retailing of mobility scooters.
How can independent retailers compete with competition from online and multiple dealers this year?
Don’t believe the hype! Customers still want to try before they buy. As a retailer, I’d rather speak face-to-face with the customer to ensure that we can provide the right product first time. This reduces buyers’ remorse and brings fewer returns. Online shopping requires the buyer to know what they’re looking for. They have made the decision without the benefit of advice or interaction with the more experienced retailer.
Online sellers may be cheaper but once you have factored returns into the equation, margins are eroded and customer confidence is lost. Multiples may have the purchasing power, but what sells in a store on the coast doesn’t necessarily sell in the city. So stock varies from store to store. The advantage might not be as big as you would think. I wouldn’t like the headache of having staffing shops and all that stock on the floor.