Supermarkets Target School Uniforms – Perspective Of A Local Northampton Embroidery Busines

The decorated schools uniform market is in the news again with a popular Sunday paper indicating that a national supermarket is trying to promote their wares to school headmasters and parents by offering their competitively priced own brand of polo shirts and sweatshirts combined with an embroidery service which will initially be based in the UK, but may well be taken overseas if successful.

As in every other category of supermarket activity, the challenge for the existing suppliers or independent embroiderers around the country is to meet the competitiveness of the proposition on offer from the supermarkets. From the perspective of a Northamptonshire embroiderer which may supply polo shirts and sweatshirts with embroidered school crests, the obvious areas upon which to focus include quality of product, turnaround time, price competitiveness, run size and readily available representation. With an advertised benchmark for schoolwear of 5 pounds for an embroidered polo shirt and 8 pounds for an embroidered sweatshirt, there is no reason why price and relative quality should deter the independent embroiderer.

Northampton schools however, like all schools, want the schoolwear to be readily available to the parents. One of the issues raised here is whether or not the local embroiderer will find a solution to meet the service element of this requirement. In recent history, schoolwear suppliers set up a section within their website to which parents would login, thereupon placing the order for delivery to the home address. Whilst this is perfectly feasible for all local suppliers, the issue of not having a ”retail frontage” where parents can see, feel and size the product meant that ordering from the web had a risk element to it. The supermarket products are available to view in-store. Just depends where the local supermarket store is located. Often it can be quite far from the community. For local Northampton embroiderers it is not just by having a website or telephone contact point with easy ordering facility offering next day or forty eight hour delivery that is important, but also by having an easily accessible distribution point, the process is given a local focus.

By working closely with the schools in the locality of the business and, as a result of flexibile embroidery production scheduling, by offering an all year round uniform on demand service, not just in bulk at the term-time outset, the relationship with the parents and school will be enhanced and the platform for loyalty enhanced. The local business must also remember that there are a major spin offs resulting from the school and the parents having awareness of local Northamptonshire embroidery and print companies. Most important of these are the indirect marketing opportunities presented for the provision of other embroidered schoolwear requirements such as embroidered teamwear, printed t shirts and the trend towards end of term commemoratives such as leavers hoodies.

Schools are part of the community and there is an underlying loyalty to local suppliers who provide a first class service. However to ensure that these opportunities don’t become the domain of the supermarket mass marketers, Northampton embroiderers will have to go to school on laying down a service and convenience plan for the schools in their localities. SABUNG AYAM