Anticipate or End Up Like my School Uniform Shop

anticipateSince my kids started school ten years ago, I’ve had to endure the tortuous process of buying the school uniform from the local shop.

They were the only place you could buy the uniform from. And their prices reflected this. What a great business if you owned it!

No need to worry about customer service – and they didn’t. No need to worry if you run short of stock, after all kids grow. and the parents will just come back into the shop.

So imagine how I smiled knowingly when I heard they had gone into administration after losing one school contract after another in quick succession.

The shop went the way of so many other companies happy to keep earning money from doing the same thing. It’s no surprise that HMV, Blockbuster Video or Currys have failed. They didn’t anticipate how changes would affect them.

How they could’ve improved Customer Service

Most of the customers are mothers. A good proportion meet and talk at the school gate. A common thread is always the quality of uniforms, sizes & prices.

search for the uniform using a tablet or mobile device whilst at the school gate

Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to easily search for the uniform using a tablet or mobile device whilst at the school gate? Maybe then add it to a wish list and complete the transaction when you get home?

With some forward anticipatory thinking they could’ve easily transformed their service to build loyalty with their customers.

How they could’ve improved stock levels

The kids moving up to high school know in March which school they’re going to. So why not get orders from them then?

But it’s inconvenient to make a journey into town. So let them order it online. I’m given guidance online to measure myself up so I can buy my work shirts online, so why can’t this be applied to school uniforms?

Rather than guessing stock levels then running out, surely it’s not hard to set the school a deadline for submitting next years uniform design then contact all future students for them to state their uniform requirements, before placing the order with the uniform manufacturer.

How they could’ve anticipated losing contracts

For many years the Government have been introducing accountability into schools. There’s an improved tendering process for services & most schools now have a business manager.

bound to come a time when the inflated uniform prices were challenged

There was bound to come a time when the inflated uniform prices were challenged. The supermarkets saw their opportunity. They started selling plain white shirts, grey trousers knowing that many schools were happy for this to be part of their uniform.

This set the price expectation amongst parents a lot lower. There was now a huge price gap between the supermarket uniform and the branded uniform from the local shop.

Ultimately it was a combination of poor service, poor supply and uncompetitive prices that sunk my local school uniform shop. They didn’t anticipate the changes that were affecting the world around them.


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