Price isn’t the most important element of a uniform negotiation, according to a disruptor in the Australian uniform industry.
An award-winning Australian uniform market disrupter has urged procurement professionals to think twice when considering haggling on price for the company’s corporate attire.
Melbourne’s modern uniform manufacturer, Cargo Crew, reveals that while procurement is far more than just being about price these days, some negotiations start and finish with price and deadline requirements. Other procurement professionals appear to be more progressive in their approach, treating the transaction as a partnership rather than a mere supplier by looking for ways to cement a strong relationship from the outset.
“We’re dealing with procurement professionals in increasing numbers, and want to help them understand the benefits of a quality uniform, which has the potential to transform the entire image of an organisation overnight,” client service director, Narelle Craig, says.
“You should never under-estimate the importance of the corporate uniform when you’re next in the market for an upgrade.
“When it comes to uniforms, price should not be the most important factor. We use audited factories to manufacture our product line, have ethical certifications not to mention using the highest quality materials and a client care team, and all of that comes at a cost. But it delivers huge value to an organisation, and removes a lot of the headaches felt by procurement professionals who have countless things to consider when ordering a uniform,” Craig says.
By choosing a quality uniform, procurement professionals are saving their company money in the long term. This is because they don’t have to replace their uniforms as often, saving the resources to coordinate re-ordering uniforms, and lessens the number of staff complaints that their uniform isn’t wearing well.
Cargo Crew was launched in 2002 by Craig’s sister, Felicity Rodgers, who as a fashion designer noticed a gap in the market for fashion-forward uniforms.
The business has flourished since launching its first range of Denim uniforms in 2012. Cargo Crew has dressed growing numbers of corporate Australian and New Zealand organisations including staff at Renault, Freedom Australia, ME (the bank), Dulux Group and SkyBus.
Comfort, the breathability of the fabric, attention to details such as longer length tees and shirts so staff can reach comfortably in the line of duty is paramount, Rodgers says.
“A uniform completes an organisation’s corporate story and reflect what the business stands for. Staff need to feel really good about what they wear, and again, that comes at a cost. Procurement people need to keep in mind the style, look and image they want to reflect in their brand,” Rodgers says.
“We set out to create a uniform brand that not only filled a gap in the market, but also excited and engaged our audience.”
The business is also investing heavily in operations under the watchful eye of Paul Rodgers (Felicity’s husband), who is focused on business efficiencies such as warehousing space, online ordering platforms, reporting and client management.
The Cargo Crew Lead Team (l-r): Paul Rodgers, Felicity Rodgers, Narelle Craig
Direct to Client Sales
Cargo Crew differs from other uniform suppliers in that it cuts out the middle man, selling a retail-quality product direct to the client rather than to a wholesaler to on-sell.
The business won the 2015 Telstra Australian Small Business of the Year Award for developing a product range with flair usually lacking in the wardrobes of corporate Australia. The Telstra Award comes on the back of 44 per cent overall sales uplift year-on-year and a growing number of corporates interested in their product, which boasts 60 variations.
In the past six months, the company’s stock holding size has grown six times. The world is sitting up and taking notice, too, with interest and orders coming from Italy, USA, UK, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Sweden, France and more.
The emphasis on style has seen the Melbourne-based business with an online store transform the modern uniform since the company launched 14 years ago. Cargo Crew now employs 18 staff.
“We’ve noticed both small and big competing businesses try to mimic our style, brand and product range, which is actually a big compliment, but of course brings its own set of challenges to the table that we’ve had to deal with.”
Cargo Crew has increased the partnerships it has, expanded its range, held a pop-up event in Sydney and even started its own publication, The Crew Review. It also has plans under way to develop a new division of the business for corporate clients, soon to be announced.