Retailer Supplier trade support pandemic

With many mobility retailers across the country planning to reopen their doors for the first time since lockdown this Monday, retail leaders are waiting with bated breath to see if shoppers are quick to return to stores.

The last three months, however, will have been some of the toughest that many retailers in the sector would have had to face in their history. Unfortunately, with a recession looming and the virus remaining with the country for the foreseeable, it seems there are more challenging times to come.

For this month’s Trade Thoughts, five mobility retailers discuss what support they would like to see from suppliers during the pandemic.

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All insights were submitted to THIIS in May 2020…

Duncan Gillett, Managing Director of Clearwell Mobility

duncan gillett clearwell mobility“The most important step some suppliers could take is to fulfil existing orders which have been in a state of limbo since lockdown began. We have been caught out by a number of the larger furniture manufacturers shutting down, leaving our customers and their orders for beds and riser recliner chairs stranded.

“The other element of support would be flexibility on invoice payments. Agreeing extra time to settle invoices would be helpful for all retailers large and small. This particularly applies for purchases of demo stock made before the lockdown which obviously retailers have not been able to sell.

“Lastly, all retailers have showrooms full of demonstration stock that has been gathering dust for weeks with the warranty period ticking away. We would request that suppliers provide a full warranty from the point at which we sell the product to the customer rather than sticking with the current arrangement where the warranty starts from delivery to the retailer.”

Mike Williams, Managing Director of Ableworld

Ableworld's Founder & Managing Director and Founder Mike Williams“Better prices, longer to pay, naturally better-quality products and stock availability!

“I’ve been a buyer most of my life – yes, you pressurise suppliers for all the support and help you can get. There is also a time when you need to step back and support each other, even more than normal: this is the time.

“The suppliers won’t have been paid from a lot of retailers and will have stocks in their warehouses which should have been sold two months ago (which they have paid for), along with many more containers on the water.

“They will have decisions to make regarding who they want to deal with – do they decrease prices to sell down stock or do they put prices up to try and gain more profit and who will pay them at the end of the day?

“Suppliers have many overheads with no grants from the government. We need good suppliers, so yes, we need the support coming out of all this but so do the suppliers. We need to work together to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Alastair Gibbs TPG DisableAids MD“It has been difficult for everyone in this pandemic scenario but some suppliers have been more supportive than others. Some have been impatient to wait for their distributors to align their operations to trade safely and have decided to sell more directly to the buying public via increased web activity and reduced selling prices on their own web sites. This has obviously gained a small amount of short-term business but has effectively turned their original dealer network into competitors.

“Long after the coronavirus pandemic is done, distributors will be mindful of who supported them – and who did not, who stood by their side to work together and who could see no further than the next few months.

“Lead generation, joint marketing, R&D, business planning and building customer confidence will all be required over the parole period to get the strong distribution channels back up and running at full speed.

“The customer base is still there; the demand has not gone away and the undoubted benefit to the quality of life for those in need of assistive technology still exists. We just need to access it in innovative ways.”

Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility

Karen Sheppard People First Mobility“The main support that I hope suppliers will consider is the extension of warranties of mobility scooters and powered products and equipment that has been sat in stores for the last two months.

“Once some turnaround of stock has been achieved, more sale or return of certain products and some demo stock, as well as the opportunity for us to sell items before having to pay for it, would aid cashflow.

“I know it has been a hard time for most suppliers as well but, hopefully, if we all work together then we can all benefit and grow stronger relationships and businesses. Communication between a dealer and the supplier will be key for the following months. The support of area reps or someone dedicated to a dealer from the office to help with any queries will be crucial.

“Free delivery and fast turnaround on smaller orders would also help us to move forward on sales. And allow any special orders to be completed quickly.”

Elaine Ferguson, Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility

elaine fortuna“Some larger suppliers have been, understandably, very busy with large orders supplying hospital trusts with equipment in recent times. They have also tended to be influenced by the quick fix requirements of online retailers.

“However, these are potentially short term, albeit profitable, requirements and could be distractions. All suppliers need to remember that our industry is only moved forward and improved by the promotion and efforts of bricks and mortar retailers who work directly with healthcare professionals and users with complex needs.

“Suppliers should ensure their attention is refocussed in these times in how to work with retailers to ensure innovation is maintained. It is also important for them to concentrate on providing good quality, cost-effective solutions with consistent supply. I have found the best suppliers are always understanding, attentive and reliable in both the good and bad times – retailers need this to survive and also to ensure the prosperity of all the many, major suppliers.

“All my best suppliers communicate and visit regularly and provide equipment for demonstration with flexibility and understanding of the market and customer need. This helps in most situations but especially in current times.”

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We respect your privacy BarnettAnalysis & InsightsBusiness SupportCoronavirus NewsCOVID-19 Trade NewsNewsroomRetailer NewsSupplier NewsTrade NewsTrade ThoughtsAbleworld,Alastair Gibbs,business support,Clearwell Mobility,communication,coronavirus,COVID-19,Duncan Gillett,Elaine Ferguson,Fortuna Mobility,Karen Sheppard,lockdown,marketing,Mike Williams,mobility retailers,mobility suppliers,pandemic,People First Mobility,TPG DisableAids,warrantiesWith many mobility retailers across the country planning to reopen their doors for the first time since lockdown this Monday, retail leaders are waiting with bated breath to see if shoppers are quick to return to stores. The last three months, however, will have been some of the toughest that...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals