To set a great retail strategy for your school uniform shop, or any retail shop, it’s important to define what you want to achieve and the benefits you aim to deliver. You can then decide on the best tactics to use, and set budgets and schedules. In this article, we share our top tips on the importance of school uniform shop retail strategies that maintain viability and deliver convenience for the school community. PLUS, we've got a Shop Readiness Checklist for you to download and check off to make sure you're on track. As our first tip, we highly recommended that you document everything in your operations!
Start by defining your position. Where are you at now, and where do you want to go? Your position could be something like “reducing the P&C workload on this ongoing project” or “improving the retail experience for customers”.
Then aim to determine the benefits of your position. It could be increased income, a smarter uniform, better performing fabrics, or 24/7 ordering capability. What measurable gains are you making?
You’ll then need to decide on the appropriate tactics to use. How do you get from here to there? It could be setting up an online shop with deliveries to classrooms, taking advantage of supplier uniform stock service or free uniform design concepts, or outsourcing the uniform shop to a specialist provider.
Finally, use all of the above to set budgets and schedules. How much time, money, and effort will it take to get there? Ensure you are realistic in your goal setting.
Dividing The Load
P&C associations and schools have a lot on their plate, and engaging the entire P&C to make retail changes is only going to result in long discussions with little progress. Consider empowering a few members raise issues and propose solutions, including at least one member from the school executive team, P&C association, uniform shop, and parent body. Your team should be passionate and knowledgeable, motivated, and able to self-manage.
Self-Managed Vs. Outsourced Uniform Shops
For self-managed uniform shops, aim to select suppliers based on their services and capability to support your business model. P&C Uniforms’ tips for self-managed shops are:
Ensure orders are made at the correct time so you don’t run out of stock.
Set retail prices at a level close to similar schools in your area, and avoid selling at cost! Self-managed shops with paid employees will need to generate a gross profit of 30%. Volunteer-managed shops can reduce profit to 20%. Setting gross profit margins less than 20% will make it hard to pay supplier bills.
Find convenors who are able to run the shop like a business. That means no donations, no ‘loaner’ uniforms, and no accepting pay later in the day.
If you can do all of these things, then you’re in a good position to self-manage! At P&C Uniforms, we supply self-managed shops (run by the school) on a wholesale basis, offering replication of existing uniform, or full uniform design and sampling through to production and warehousing. We also offer Uniform Stock Service to schools, to help with space saving, reduced cash outlay, stock management and more.
If your school does not have the resources to self-manage, outsourcing is a great option. Our tips for a great outsourced shop are:
Look for providers who specialize in quality uniforms.
Compare remuneration – some providers do not pay remuneration and others will pay a generous percentage of sales.
Consider what reporting the provider gives your school.
Ask whether an online service be provided.
Confirm whether retail prices will remain the same or increase.
Ask the supplier how existing school uniform stock will be managed.
Is the provider accredited by the Department of Education?
Check the supplier’s testimonials.
At P&C Uniforms, we can manage your uniform shop operation onsite with our Outsourcing Service. We employ trained, blue card certified staff to sell your existing stock first, and manufacture stock thereafter. Schools benefit from a significant improvement in retail services, recoup of funds from existing stock (We pay 95% of all sales of school owned stock), and generous income of 15% of all sales of P&C Uniforms owned stock.
Planning Stock Flow
Stock takes up lot of space. This sounds pretty obvious, but so many schools don’t account for this. Your school should make sure you have the means to stock up to 75% of your annual stock turnover, if your supplier isn’t warehousing it for you.
You should also try to stock as few styles as you can. This way you’re reaching bigger indent quantities, making fewer orders and managing fewer moving parts. Don’t overcommit to reach bigger indent quantities, as you’re not making money until the bills are paid.
Consider consolidating suppliers – most suppliers will bend over backwards to win the whole uniform contract. You’ll get bigger loyalty bonuses, more stock holding, and you’ll spend less time ordering. You’re also likely to get a more cohesive uniform through using the same fabrics.
If you’re not selling your uniforms online right now, you should absolutely have that discussion with your P and C. Online stores allow parents to order without visiting the shop, and if you do it right they’re even going to choose the right size items! It also lets the P and C open on fewer days, reducing volunteer stress, or employee pay.
Picking the right online store provider will even let you integrate with Point of Sale, Reporting, and other technologies. P&C Uniforms provides online shop set up free of charge to existing customers.
Choosing A Supplier
P&C Uniforms has been established for 32 years, and we're proud sponsors of P&Cs Qld and ASCA. We're also a QLD Department Of Education SOA 78764 preferred wholesaler and retailer (onsite shops), as well as a NSW Department of Education 100323007 valued school uniform supplier.
If you’d like more expert advice, an obligation free proposal for wholesale supply or uniform shop outsourcing, please contact us on 1800 811 202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope these tips, along with the Shop Readiness Checklist download below, will help you maintain a successful and profitable uniform shop. Happy selling!