A Business Born out of Making Life Easier for Disabled and Elderly Individuals

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Andrew Atkinson’s entrepreneurial journey is a story of determination, perseverance and vision. Starting with only £1000, he built Mobility Smart, the largest UK online company specialising in mobility scooters and other daily living aids. His passion for helping elderly and disabled people and his natural technical ability were the driving forces behind the success of his business.

Andrew’s journey began when he was just 13 years old. He helped a man who moved into his grandma and grandad’s house when they had passed away. The man ran a mobility business but had little ability in fixing mobility scooters. Andrew stepped in to help and worked part-time for the man until 2004.

A Gap in the Market

In 2004, Andrew left to start his own online mobility company – Mobility Smart. At the time, very few mobility aids were offered online. His previous employer didn’t want to move into selling online, but Andrew spotted the opportunity, thinking the business and the sector offered a lot of potential for an online-based business. He started by trading on eBay while developing a website.

“I remember looking at how the existing mobility aids market was confined to a local retail setting and severely limited in its reach. At the same time, I could see how the rapid growth of the internet was going to create a great opportunity to get essential daily living aids and mobility gear out to a much larger audience on a national basis.”Andrew Atkinson, Mobility Smart CEO

Starting a business from scratch is never easy, and Andrew faced many challenges. One of his biggest challenges was finding suppliers who would deal with him, being so young in a market usually run by much older people. He nearly quit in his first year as it was so hard to get accounts with suppliers. But he persisted because he had a strong belief that the online selling model was here to stay with enormous growth potential.

From 2006 onwards, the business expanded into selling through trade accounts, winning orders from NHS, schools, care homes and councils. They ran the business from a small building rented in Garstang, a unit on Creamery Industrial Estate, until 2014 when they moved to bigger premises next to the warehouse to offer better service and facilities to local and regional customers.

In 2012, Mobility Smart migrated its online store to the Magento e-commerce platform. It was an incredibly financially challenging process, and it caused a significant downturn for the business due to technology problems making the switch. 

“Like with many other online and technology-based businesses, one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced has been keeping up with the constant cycle of changes that the internet can throw at you. With almost two decades of business behind me, I am still learning and adapting. There are new challenges coming at myself and the team almost daily, as technology marches on so quickly. I just accept that and make it my business to stay well ahead of the curve.”Andrew Atkinson, Mobility Smart CEO

However, Andrew bounced back and reached £1 million in turnover in 2013. He invested heavily in technology and expanded the staff team.

A Perfect Storm of Financial Challenges

The next few years were challenging due to external factors beyond Andrew’s control. Brexit and Covid caused massive delays in the supply chain and big shortages in other areas. The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused further problems, increasing costs and putting further strain on the company’s already unstable supply chain. Meanwhile, the UK’s unprecedented living cost crisis saw households across the country curb their spending, putting off major purchases and investments indefinitely as making ends meet became the top priority for most. 

Despite all these challenges, Mobility Smart achieved sustainable success by streamlining processes to lower costs and improve the quality of service. Andrew introduced AI and cutting-edge technology to further improve efficiency and the quality of customer service. Enhanced finance options were introduced to enable customers to spread the cost of equipment purchases. Improved dispatch and logistics systems were put in place to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs.

All of the above led to Mobility Smart being able to offer competitive pricing for pensioners and those with limited incomes. They increased their range of products and kept their prices low across the range. Andrew’s determination to supply the best products on the market at genuinely affordable prices to make life easier for elderly and disabled people has remained unchanged from day one.

Still Going Strong

Today, Mobility Smart is the largest UK online company specialising in mobility and daily living aids. Andrew continues to invest in new technology to ensure the biggest and best range of products while also ensuring that the customer experience is the best possible. His commitment to customer care and satisfaction has got the company through difficult times, and his passion for helping others remains as strong as ever.

“I’m proudest of all of how we have made a significant difference in the lives of so many customers over the last two decades. It’s of course rewarding to reach our business objectives, but on a personal level, I feel we have definitely contributed to making life more comfortable, less stressful and safer for so many, by bringing essential daily living aids to a much wider audience. It’s still a thrill for me to read how a product has really helped somebody out, knowing that we’ve played a small part in that process for them.”Andrew Atkinson, Mobility Smart CEO

The success of Mobility Smart is a testament to Andrew Atkinson’s vision, determination, and innovation. From humble beginnings, he built a business that has made a significant impact on the lives of many elderly and disabled people.