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After the lockdown hiatus, many retailers will be in search of ways to boost sales beyond traditional ranges in a bid to attract new customers. Interestingly, one product category that many in the mobility sector are yet to embrace is adaptive clothing.

Jemma Dunn, Managing Director of More Than Mobility and The Senior Clothing Company, discusses why clothing might be the right fit for retailers.

As the owner of a mobility retail company and an adaptive clothing business, mobility entrepreneur Jemma finds herself uniquely placed to understand the retail opportunities afforded by adaptive clothing, as well as some of the challenges facing those considering introducing new clothing ranges.

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Purchasing More Than Mobility in 2009, the mobility entrepreneur acquired the Adaptawear brand in 2012 and established The Senior Clothing Company. Since launching the adaptive clothing business, Jemma has expanded the collection which now sells almost a thousand different product lines across its free brands: Adaptawear, Clootietree and Designed to Care.

For the majority of mobility retailers, adaptive clothing will not be a core range that will dominate showroom space over bigger ticket items such as scooters and furniture, however, what it can do is prove an effective ancillary product, appealing to customers already in the market for mobility aids and equipment.

“Adapted clothing is a good addition for mobility retailers adding to their offerings as the products are complementary to traditional mobility products, providing an opportunity to cross-sell and increase revenues in store,” Jemma explains.

“Alongside being able to sell it in showrooms, clothing works really well for selling online and over the telephone.”

This ability to easily sell and ship adaptive clothing remotely is also an important point, particularly in the new reality of coronavirus where many potential customers may continue to avoid physical stores despite easements to lockdown.

For those unfamiliar with the product category, the sheer range of clothing options can be daunting when deciding which products to offer customers. Similar to footwear, the clothing category has a high degree of variation across products, posing a potential stock challenge that retailers should be aware of, points out Jemma.

“Finding the space to allocate to clothing in-store and when holding stock is something retailers should also take into account,” she says.

“It’s unrealistic to show all the product variations as clothing has a lot of SKUs, including different colours and sizes. Also, often, retailers in the sector operate out of relatively small premises where space is at a premium.”

To overcome this, the adaptable clothing and mobility retail boss recommends starting off with a limited range of popular ranges to introduce to customers and then expanding once the products have become more established and gained traction.

“Start small and focus on few core products instead of promoting the whole range; it is probably best to pick five or six products max to showcase and sell in-store to begin with,” notes Jemma.

“Some of our best-sellers are adaptive nightwear for both men and women, adaptive trousers, front fastening bras, bed jackets and magnetic shirts. If it works, you can add other products to the range and at Adaptawear, we can do drop shipping for mobility retailers that want other items or different sizes and colours.”

Importantly, retailers should also know that the product category’s benefit of being able to sell easily online also has an inherent drawback.

“Exchanges and returns do tend to be higher, especially from online sales, as people need to try on the clothes or have got the wrong sizing,” states Jemma.

Therefore, retailers planning to retail adaptive clothes online will need to ensure they have a well-defined policy and efficient system to handle returns to avoid eating into precious margins.

In addition, Jemma highlights that whilst most adaptive clothing products are VAT exempt, some are not and so retailers will need to work out which are eligible and which are not.

For those in the sector that do take Jemma’s useful advice on board and try their hand at selling adaptive clothing however, they may find themselves enjoying a market not yet saturated with competition which can provide new sales to help with the post-lockdown recovery.

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