Solving the Sizing Challenges in Staff Uniform Rollouts
When managing a large team’s uniforms, the complexity around getting consistent sizing across a range of uniform items could be the single most frustrating thing about the apparel industry. And for your staff, it’s confusing, frustrating and can result in a large number of returns.
Depending on the garment’s manufacturer, the size and fit of the garment will fluctuate irrespective of the size tag it carries. And if the fit is off, the look is off too!
Anyone with a body is likely to be aware of the variance in clothing sizes. A size 10 chest measurement could vary by up to several inches across different brands. The arbitrary numerical sizes of mens and womens apparel sizes fluctuate across different manufacturers who each have their own version of a sizing “standard”. Complicated right!?
The other consideration is that manufacturers don’t cater to all sizes.
Under-represented sectors of the population, such as petite bodies, curvier or straighter, taller or shorter stature, plus sized bodies, “in-between” sizes or anyone else who doesn’t fit into “standard” clothing sizes. Some businesses make decisions on their uniform range without properly considering the various sizes they need their uniform program to cater to.
The Cost of Getting Uniform Sizing Wrong
For those thinking that getting the sizing wrong when ordering a uniform is just a minor inconvenience. Think again. Consider the impact of having staff out of uniform while the correct size is being organised.
In some industries, employees are rostered onto a remote site, and require specialised workwear and PPE. When they arrive on-site for the first time, and their uniform is ill-fitting and deemed unsafe to perform their duties, this could result in a significant cost for the employer in lost wages with no result.
With eCommerce such a prevalent part of our lives these days, consumers are conditioned to expect returns are free. This is typically not the case with corporate uniforms. It is the responsibility of the individual ordering the uniform to ensure the correct sizes for each garment.
The cost of the “return supply chain” can quickly balloon if businesses don’t manage it well. It is rare that a uniform supplier will cover the costs of returns unless there is a manufacturing fault. Costs of returns could include postage costs, staff costs to assess the returned goods, restocking costs, additional packaging, return postage to name a few.
Innovating the Sizing Challenge
The challenge of accurate sizing has been a constant in Total Uniform Solutions over the last 15 years… until recently.
Being a technology-led business, innovation and out of the box thinking are at the centre of our brand values. In response to the complexity sizing brings our customers, we developed WOTsize, a size recommendation app designed for the uniform industry that guides users to find their recommended size and best fit. More about that in a minute...
A Japanese invention, the Zozo Suit, relied on a dotted stretchy skin suit that works with a smartphone enabled with an app that can capture lots of measurements without the use of a measuring tape. While innovative and fun, it presents a challenge of its own in that some people would feel intimidated measuring themselves in this way in their workplace! Once thought to be the answer to custom-fitting fashion, this invention has not been successful for the Japanese company.
Advancements in mobile technology is now enabling skeletal recognition which takes your body measurements. 3D body scanning is also emerging and we can see how these technologies can have a useful application in solving the sizing challenge and visualising uniforms on individual’s bodies. We are watching this space with enthusiasm!
What Options Do Businesses Have To Overcome Sizing Challenges?
We’ve put together a few typical strategies to support the size chart that will invariably accompany each uniform item.
1. Purchase a Sizing Range
These can be useful if your staff insist on trying on physical samples. Ask your uniform provider to provide a selection of sizing samples to be kept at your office.
Sizing Samples can be conspicuously embroidered with a large SAMPLE on them so they don’t go walkabout!
The main benefits are that staff can physically try on the garment to determine their ideal size and fit. Ultimately it’s about helping them feel confident they know exactly what they are getting, whilst also reducing the likelihood of returns.
The main barriers to this strategy is the implementation costs. A full set of each garment in all the sizes offered can be costly to create. You will also need to factor in how these uniforms are displayed and accessed by staff. Suitable change room facilities would also be a consideration.
Uniform providers like Total Uniform Solutions can offer a branded portable change room and rack system to set up your sizing kit.
2. Teach Staff To Self-Measure
The education piece is something that Total Uniform Solutions has been taking a proactive approach with for many years now.
Our staff are carefully trained to take accurate measurements when dealing with customers in the showroom. When it comes to an inexperienced staff member attempting to measure their body at home (or the office), the results can vary wildly.
We’ve developed a series of instructional videos that are designed to up-skill people quickly and give them confidence in self-measuring. These videos are available in our online uniform program management software, on every product page.
We also provide a new uniform program “Welcome Pack” that goes out to all stores or office locations. This pack includes measuring tapes and other tools relevant to their uniforms. This equips staff with all the equipment and information they need to make the right decision the first time.
3. Hosting Roadshows
During the procurement process for one of our clients, Optus, T.U.S managed half a dozen Roadshows for the organisation. The Roadshows allowed our team to present the uniform samples at various key points in the procurement process to get critical staff buy-in and insights.
Roadshows are designed to provide an interactive approach to the proposed range, where staff can touch and feel the garments, see them on display, and understand the methodology of the uniform program.
The other benefits are that you will get first-hand feedback on the uniform selection, which can be used to iterate and improve the designs. For our client Optus, these events were critical in uncovering staff insights that contributed to garment design features which delivered a key point of difference and met the needs of staff in a highly practical way.
The main barriers to this method is it is quite time-taking and expensive to execute. Roadshows also come with their own set of logistical challenges such as transporting the garments and display equipment.
Depending on time constraints, this event can often present a good opportunity for staff to try on samples and get measured so they know what sizes they need to order in each uniform item to get their desired fit.
4. Online sizing tools
T.U.S is leading the way in pioneering a sizing app that uses artificial intelligence to match the body measurement inputs from the user against the uniform item’s physical measurements. These inputs are gathered through a simple online questionnaire.
WOTsize provides an interactive and engaging way to take measurements and preferred fit insights from an individual. These insights are then used to predict appropriate uniform sizing.
Our proprietary online tool, WOTsize, is available to qualifying clients in our B2BHub Online Uniform Program Management software. Get in touch and request a demo today.
Our prediction is that online recommendation tools like WOTsize will become the “next big thing” in corporate uniform procurement. We predict that mobile apps that measure your body and simulate the garment on a 3D-scanned avatar of your body will be the next evolution. Using artificial intelligence and mobile technology, the algorithms will take into account other ‘softer variables’ like fit.
We’re slowly inching closer to a world where people will be able to order uniforms that fit perfectly, without leaving the comfort of their living room (or office cubicle).
At the end of the day, whatever strategy is chosen, it should be about making it easier for your staff to order uniforms that fit and make them feel confident. It’s proven that a confident employee, who feels good in a uniform they are proud to wear, will have a positive impact on their performance. If you really want to ace your uniform procurement process, check out our resource "The Secrets To Eliminating Risk With Uniform Procurement" to learn all about how to minimise the risk of something unravelling during the procurement and rollout phases.