Club Shop – Ian Wharton

Club Shop – Ian Wharton

We recently posted about members suggestions and we mentioned the committee plans for club clothing. This post covers our plans in more detail.

We aren’t quite there yet but hopefully it won’t be long

Previously we have taken what can possibly be termed a traditional way to provide club clothing and in particular, club vests. The process involved either predicting the demand or reacting to member orders, placing orders (and it’s always a minimum quantity order of 20 or so) against a supplier and subsequently distributing the items.

The outcome of this has been that in some circumstances, new members have been unable to get quick access to club vests for races which in turn affects club competition standings. No vest, no result!

Less seriously but no less annoying has been the fact that members have requested more clothing choice, while at the same time, the club has existing stock of clothes which are either unpopular or the wrong size. In fact the stock of unsold club clothing amounts to a significant amount of money which could be put to much better use.

Members have asked for training clothing over and above the fleeces, hoodies and vests for evening training sessions etc. But the last thing we want to do is order and hold more stock. We aren’t set up for holding stock. It’s a load of work for club committee volunteers and no matter what we do, that method just doesn’t work any more. The club is growing and with it, the demand is growing, not only for clothing, but also other events/training etc. As a committee, we want to concentrate on work which adds value directly to the club and reflects what we do. Holding clothing stock doesn’t fit with that any more and making clothing delivery more efficient means that the committee can concentrate on other things while giving members a better clothing service and choice.

From the club point of view, we don’t want to invest members contributions in unsold stock. Again we have better things to spend the money on and also, the opportunity to promote the club with training kit is being missed. Every week we have large groups of runners at various locations and anyone who sees us and wants to join, has a challenge to find out who we are. We have seen what effect wearing club fleeces at parkrun has had on membership, parkrunners often ask about the club and come along to the evening Tuesday and Thursday runs.

With all this in mind, the suggestions from the survey prompted us to reassess the process and see what else we can do.

The fact is that clothing suppliers are developing to accommodate clubs demands and many are now able to provide club specific online shops, with products tailored with club badges and optionally individuals names, printed to order and shipped direct.

This approach gives the club members a deal more choice of clothing with a variety of sizes, online payment and direct delivery. Many suppliers make a small charge to perform the initial setup, and committee may decide to add a small amount to the cost to add to club funds, but again, many suppliers support this seamlessly.

The committee will just have the shop content to maintain but with no stock to worry about. It’s a win win. We are now confident that we will be able to deliver a good quality of kit without exorbitant cost, either to the club or the membership.

At the moment, the only issue is the delivery times of vests.

As items are printed on order, it’s looking like delivery for vests and t-shirts would be about 4 weeks. In time, this may come down but for now at least, it’s 4 weeks. New members who want to run club competitions need a vest as soon as possible. To accommodate that, several committee members will be holding a limited number of vests in their car boot from present stock.

Members will be expected to order their own vest from the club shop, but may borrow one from the club until it arrives, wash it and return to the committee member who will have a record of who has their stock of spare vest .

Most other stock items will be embroidered or printed and dispatched within 7-10 working days

We hope that this will mean that we can provide a much better service to club members and accommodate new and existing members more easily.

We know that even 4 weeks for vests is a bit of a bind, but as they are printed to order there is bound to be a time delay and at least you will know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

The shop isn’t available just yet but should be within the next couple of weeks. There is a degree of work to be done to make sure we have looked at all the options, chosen the kit and set everything up. We also want to move the existing stock as much as possible but we are making great progress considering we only meet once a month.

What does this mean to you? For the next month, it means no significant change. Pete O’Grady has the remaining stock of clothing including vests so if you need anything, particularly a vest, contact Pete in the first instance. PM him on Facebook, he will tell you the availability and where/when the item can be collected – he may even deliver it if you live local to him! We don’t want to order any more stock as the shop is imminent but we will be trying to sell as much of the remaining stock as possible in the interim. I’ll do a separate blog on what we have and where and when you will be able to purchase it later.

We all hope and expect that the choice and the much slicker process will be popular with all club members and the slight delivery delay will only be a minor inconvenience. I can’t wait to see what the shop will look like and I hope that in a couple of months we will start to see some of the kit on Red Rose training runs.

Maybe we should organise a fashion show for the kit when it’s ready. Any volunteers?

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