Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - M40

Parker School Uniforms
the next level with our customers. It is not just about understanding the analytics better, but in the human sense
of what we can do better to help our customers and their
schools have success."

A Cut Above the Rest
Parker School Uniform is committed to fit every single customer. "We truly must be in stock because of the unique and
highly customized nature of our merchandise," Pike says.
"We promise to have your uniforms in-stock year-round.
Or, we will find them or make them, and then we will ship
them for free. That is a truly unique proposition for an apparel retailer.
"For example, we partnered with a charter school a few
years ago that had decided to adopt school uniforms," Pike
continues. "They asked us to support a fashion show to showcase the new look to their students and families, and sent us
the sizes and measurements of their students six days before
the show. One of the measurements was for a seventh grade
girl who had a 54-inch waist. We didn't have anything on the
shelf to fit her, but within that timeframe we made pattern,
cut fabric and made a skirt and blouse that looked exactly like
the other skirts all of her peers were going to wear. So because
we were nimble and we cared, she was able to participate in
the show and feel like an important part of the school."
Because of Parker School Uniforms' flexibility and reputation for exceeding customers' expectations, the majority
of its business is referral based. "That could include a school
administrator who has moved to another school and recognizes they are not getting the best school uniform service for
their families," Pike explains.

40

RETAIL-MERCHANDISER.COM

May/June 2017

Unlike most retailers, Pike adds that the school uniform
business is "incredibly" seasonal. "People who have worked
in other parts of retail that join my business here notice
quickly that it's different," he says. "We do more than half
of our business in about six weeks. During that six-week
period, when kids are getting ready to go back to school, we
have already been preparing since the beginning of the year
so that we have the right stuff at the right place at the right
time. We also scale our workforce from 200 people to 800 to
meet that seasonal demand."
With a sewing plant in Houston and more than 100 suppliers, some of whom are located overseas, the company's
supply chain efficiency and flexibility is front and center on
a daily basis, according to Pike. "We started global sourcing
in 2010 and have developed strong relationships with our
overseas suppliers where they really operate as an extension
of our business," he explains. "They understand the critical
nature of our timeline. Traditional sourcing relationships
don't lend themselves to quick response replenishment in
very small batch sizes. What we have developed is a bit of a
unicorn in apparel manufacturing. However, we still manufacture and decorate merchandise on a year-round basis in
our Houston plant. Responsiveness is critical."

Streamlining Processes
Parker School Uniforms soon will complete a system upgrade and implement a new ERP system. "We were early in
adopting a truly integrated multi-channel retail approach,"
Pike says. "We have had cloud-based merchandising and
POS systems for over a decade, and a fully integrated website enabling fulfillment from stores. Now that we are larger
and vertically integrated, we need more system capability
to provide efficient but extraordinary customer experiences.
"That is why we are implementing Netsuite," he continues. "It will enable us to manage the many very unique and
custom workflows across every division of our enterprise by
providing visibility and actionable information that we simply don't have today. Our customers are going to be the real
beneficiaries as everything that we do gets faster, and information improves. We will do virtually everything on the
NetSuite platform: Inventory planning and management,
POS, web, CRM and order fulfillment.
"We are also implementing a guided, web-based, point
of sale solution that will enable our Prime Time associates
- our name for seasonal hires - to access school specific
and personalized information at the click of a mouse," Pike
adds. "There is a CRM module as part of that, so we'll be
enhancing replenishment and inventory management. In
addition, we're also implementing an order management
system. So all of that will be coming to bear for this back to
school season."


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Intro
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - Contents
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 3
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 4
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 5
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 6
Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - 7
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Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - MCover1
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Retail Merchandiser - May/June 2017 - M1
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