Supplier Spotlight: eFOLDI’s heavy focus on lighter products
One of the mobility industry’s success stories, eFOLDi has managed to break into the competitive world of mobility manufacturing with its unique MK1.5 folding scooter. Primarily focusing on a B2C model, the company achieved multi-million-pound sales and grabbed the attention of capital venture firm Guinness Asset Management.
Buoyed with a fresh £2.5m investment and with a trade expert recently joining its ranks, the company has laid out its ambitions to firmly establish a UK retail network.
Breaking into the mobility retail scene
The past four years have been busy for eFOLDi’s CEO Sumi Wang, to say the least. Since entering the mobility arena with her father’s unique folding scooter prototype in 2017, she has reached a series of impressive milestones. The mobility start-up has successfully raised millions in investment through crowdfunding, released a popular product onto the market, used television advertising to reach customers, bolstered its management team and secured noteworthy private equity funding.
Now, eFOLDi is preparing for the next stage in its journey and is putting the mobility retail trade at the heart of its plans. The company has recently released two new products which it is confident will charm dealers.
Developing its dealer network
The company’s flagship MK1.5 scooter has been a runaway success for eFOLDi, generating millions in sales in its first year. Primarily focusing on a direct-to-consumer model, however, the company has yet to develop an extensive network of retail partners in the UK.
It is something Tim Ross, industry veteran and eFOLDi’s new national sales manager, plans to change in the weeks and months ahead.
“Our focus is on building a network of like-minded partners who see the value in selling quality products that are unique from others on the market,” he explains.
“We are already working with some dealers, so we’ll be looking at how we can work closer with them while selectively adding new dealers to our network. We are certainly not looking to open up every single retailer in the UK just to sell them a product or two a year.
“This is about working with and supporting quality dealers that want to get behind our products. So, it is important that we work with retailers that see our products as adding value to their range.”
Alongside building the UK network, Tim adds that the growing company is also looking for export partners.
“I hope dealers can see that we have acted on that feedback and understand where we are going and want to join us on the journey.” Sumi Wang
Candidly, Sumi acknowledges that the company has learned an important lesson from the launch of its first product about the importance of satisfying the needs of end-users and retailers.
“We decided to sell direct and use television advertising after we received feedback from dealers that our MK1.5 did not always fit in with their product portfolios. It was quite different from the traditional scooters that are in the industry,” she says.
“Good and bad, that feedback was invaluable and I’d like to thank all the dealers that shared their thoughts with us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today with two new products which we have made with feedback from retailers in mind.”
Made for the trade
The company hopes its new and ultra-lightweight eFOLDi Lite mobility scooter and Powerchair will prove a hit among mobility retailers.
“Our two new products are created more as retailer products that fit into a dealer’s showroom,” continues Sumi.
Weighing just 15kg, its Lite model is the “world’s lightest, most compact, folding mobility scooter,” claims the company. Capable of folding into the size of a small suitcase, the Lite features a useful handle for users to easily manoeuvre it when folded and has suspension and large wheels making a comfortable ride.
At 14kg, the company also asserts its new Powerchair holds the title as the “lightest, most compact power wheelchair in its class.” Boasting a range of 12 miles, the fully airline compliant device has the added benefit of an attendant control as standard.
According to Tim, the lightness will help the devices stand out in the busy folding powered mobility market.
“I’ve been in the industry for a long time and seen a lot of folding mobility scooters which are just too heavy for some customers to lift into a car boot. The alternative is scooters that have to be disassembled which can be time-consuming,” he says.
“The lightness of our products will mean there will be customers who will only be able to lift an eFOLDi product and not others in a showroom. It enables dealers to add products to their portfolio that will allow them to meet the needs of more customers.”
He also points out that due to the compact design when folded, the devices take up less room in showrooms where space is at a premium.
Despite their light weight, however, Sumi – a professional engineer by trade – emphasises that the devices are robust and capable of carrying heavier weights thanks to innovative engineering.
Impressively, the Lite scooter can carry eight times its own weight, with a carry capacity of 120kg while the Powerchair can carry almost nine times its own weight at 135kg.
“We have been able to reduce the weight thanks to our clever, patented design,” she says.
“Because of our unique mechanics, the way our products fold is different from how others in this industry fold – which typically fold in a scissor-type motion. Our design means that the products can carry more weight while also being lighter.”
Making B2C and B2B work
Arguably, the main question for many dealers is how the company will make its B2C and B2B operations work together.
“We want dealers to see our marketing and TV adverts as complementary and something they can benefit significantly from,” says Sumi
“Our TV advertising is not only raising awareness of the MK1.5 but also of mobility and eFOLDi generally. It will encourage customers to go to their local mobility shop and ask if they sell an eFOLDi, rather than asking if they sell a mobility scooter. We’ve already seen this happen a lot.”
Sumi adds that having the B2C arm selling the MK1.5 is key to paying for the advertising to promote eFOLDi as a brand.
“This is about working with and supporting quality dealers that want to get behind our products.” Tim Ross
Alongside its dealers enjoying the afterglow of its marketing efforts, Tim suggests its B2C heritage also helps the company to offer greater support to its dealer network.
“Having our B2C arm means the company has had to invest in internal resource to handle technical issues and provide customer service directly to end-users,” he says.
“It means we have great technical capacity in-house which is able to help any dealers with queries or any support they need. We really see this as going beyond just offering new products; it is about forming a partnership and providing excellent dealer support, customer service, aftersales support and product training.”
Gearing up for the trade
Over the past two years of selling directly to consumers, eFOLDi has learned some difficult and valuable lessons along the way. As Sumi emphasises, the company is in a much better position to meet the needs of trade partners.
“Last year, we generated multi-million sales but we ran low on stock. As it was the first year, we didn’t have previous sales projections to know how many units we would need and we were surprised by just how popular it was,” she concedes.
“Our customers were great and very understanding but we know that can’t happen for our trade customers so, during lockdown, we moved into a bigger facility. Now we can hold a significant amount more stock than we could before. It means we are well placed to handle fluctuations and delays caused by the pandemic and ensure we can meet the needs of our trade customers.”
Fortunately for the company, Tim’s three decades in the industry means he has an expert understanding of what dealers want and need. Over recent weeks, he has been busy ramping up retail support across the board, ensuring eFOLDi can provide quick access to spare parts and stock, extensive product training, technical support and trade-focused point of sale material.
With two new products designed for the retail market, a new storage facility, big financial backing to invest in infrastructure and R&D, alongside the injection of Tim’s trade experience, eFOLDi looks well-positioned to make this next engagement with the mobility trade a success.
“I would like to thank all the dealers that have helped us get to where we are today. Those that supported the MK1.5 and those that told us what we needed to do to better engage with the retail market,” finishes Sumi.
“I hope dealers can see that we have acted on that feedback and understand where we are going and want to join us on the journey. Please get in touch with us and we would love to see how we can work together.”https://thiis.co.uk/supplier-spotlight-efoldis-heavy-focus-on-lighter-products/https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/eFOLDi-Tim-Ross-and-Sumi-Wang.jpg?fit=900%2C599&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/eFOLDi-Tim-Ross-and-Sumi-Wang.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1NewsroomRetailer NewsSupplier NewsSupplier SpotlightTrade FocusTrade NewsB2B,B2C,D2C,efoldi,Guinness Asset Management,investment,mobility retailers,mobility scooter,mobility trade,powerchair,sumi wang,Tim RossOne of the mobility industry’s success stories, eFOLDi has managed to break into the competitive world of mobility manufacturing with its unique MK1.5 folding scooter. Primarily focusing on a B2C model, the company achieved multi-million-pound sales and grabbed the attention of capital venture firm Guinness Asset Management.Buoyed with a...Calvin BarnettCalvin Barnettcalvin@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine