Monkhouse Schoolwear is an outfitter of school uniform and physical education kits to over 850 schools across the UK from its 31 stores. They worked with JRNI to introduce an online appointment booking system within a matter of weeks to secure a safe way for customers to prepare for ‘back to school’ at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The ‘back to school’ period is always a challenge for schoolwear outfitters with around 70% of the annual trade being done in around six weeks. Customers often wait until the end of the summer holidays before embarking on their uniform shopping sprees. However, with the additional challenge of COVID-19 and strict social distancing measures having been introduced, Monkhouse needed to find a way to ensure its stores across the UK could still prepare the nation’s schoolchildren for the start of a new term and protect its revenue during a difficult economic period.
Chris Parks, Head of E-Commerce, commented: “We knew we had to try an appointment booking system to encourage a better flow of business over the summer period, reduce queues and better serve our customers. It was the only way we could ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”
Monkhouse chose JRNI Appointments to help it become COVID secure and re-open shops. Within weeks the team had deployed, tested, and launched. The system has been reliable, coping well with demand, and most importantly, stable. Monkhouse even undertook some customization with JRNI’s development team to make the service school specific and more personalized.
Monkhouse was able to manage the flow of its customers within the stores, flattening the peak sales curve through this period, which kept both staff and customers safe. It also now has much better data on its customers and their preferences, which means it can tailor and personalize their future experiences with the Monkhouse brand.
Parks commented: “The platform enabled us to ask questions ahead of the appointment, such as the school, the year and the type of uniform; summer, winter or PE?”
“For the majority of the summer ‘back to school’ peak, we managed to shift our business to only 10% walk ins – 90% pre-booked appointments. That increased a little towards the end of August as we had some inevitable last-minute buyers. However, for over 90% of our customers, we were able to prepare and improve both the speed and experience of their shopping.”
The improved customer experience was reflected in customer feedback too. Monkhouse conducted a customer service ranking survey (net promoter score) during the period and the average score was 90/100.
Parks concluded, “The swift deployment of JRNI Appointments was the best thing we did. COVID-19 had the potential to shut down our business, however, we are now in a position where we are doing better as a whole than this time last year, which is fantastic given we had a short period of time where stores were shut altogether.”
Looking forward to next year, Monkhouse plans to keep the personal appointment system in place and integrate it further with the rest of the business. The company will be looking for even better ways to use the data it provides to personalize the customer experience by linking it with the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system to generate relevant marketing opportunities and provide a better after sales service.