Cut your losses
Find My Kit enhances school name tags with QR technology to create the Smart Tag.
By Laura Turner
13 December 2013
Losing school uniform items, sports kits and everyday school essentials is an all too common problem and a very real and expensive issue for parents. Find My Kit, founded in May 2012 by Andrew Britton and Mark Reed, aims to enhance the opportunity of retrieving lost items with something it calls the Smart Tag.
Smart Tags work quite differently to the conventional and traditional name label, with Find My Kit using a combination of QR technology coupled with an advanced PET (polyethylene terephalate) based material to create a durable Smart Tag solution. The Smart Tag comes in the form of either a machine-washable iron-on label or dishwasher-safe sticker and, as well as bearing the owner’s name in the traditional format, features a QR code (Quick Response Code). The QR code is a matrix barcode that carries encoded information embedded within it, which is revealed when scanned, thus allowing a greater storage capacity in one little label.
Each set of Smart Tags carries the user’s own individually designed QR code, specific to them. On registering contact details, an individual QR code is automatically generated and the Smart Tags are processed. Lost items bearing a Smart Tag can then be scanned, and an automatic email notification and/or SMS text is delivered to the registered owner. In terms of cost, the end user pays for the number of Smart Tags they need, and included in this price are the first 10 SMS text notifications. If the 10 SMS texts are used, further texts can be purchased. However, all email notifications are free of charge and the system is free for the affiliate to use.
“In essence, we have updated the traditional school name tag to a Smart Tag using QR technology while also utilising a polymer-based material,” says company director Gareth Davies, who joined Find My Kit in April 2013. “The result is an extremely durable name tag – a similar process to that employed by Nike and Disney for labelling purposes.
“We currently offer the Smart Tag in both iron-on and sticker format, but we also have keyrings and bag tags available, too,” he continues. “The system is browser-based, free for the school to use, and we provide the necessary hand scanner. We also make a donation of £1 to the school for every pupil that signs up, and therefore we are also able to contribute financially towards the schools in our community. We recently donated £385 to Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys, for instance, which subsidised a new set of goalposts.”
On purchasing Smart Tags, parents register their contact details with Find My Kit. When a lost item is found by an affiliate of the network – be that the child’s school, a train or bus company, a sports club or, more commonly, another school after a sporting fixture – it is scanned. An automatic email and or SMS message is then sent to the parent advising them of the lost item, the location and point of retrieval. This means, therefore, that Find My Kit has to establish a wide network of affiliates, beyond schools, to further secure chances of recovering lost items.
“Of course, a high percentage of property is lost while travelling to and from school, so our relationships with local bus companies and sports clubs enhance the potential for retrieval,” says Davies. “It also solves the issue for those companies, too, who can tailor their personal message so items can be picked up within a certain time frame.”
Find My Kit currently has 35 schools and organisations signed to its service – that’s 2,000 users resulting in 400,000 tags potentially in circulation – and it is in conversation with a further 43. Cost is a huge issue in schools. But, as the service is free for affiliates to use, and the tags themselves are no more expensive than the traditional on a tag-for-tag basis, the main stumbling block for Find My Kit so far has been attaining the right contacts within the schools to promote the product. Once connected with the right people, however, the company has experienced a reassuring 95 per cent take-up of the system.
In terms of growth for the business going forward, Find My Kit is actively targeting schoolwear independents to offer Smart Tags as a bolt-on product in-store and promote the service within their client base on a commission-per-pack-sold basis. Davies sees this as the quickest route-to-market, with the retailers having established often long-standing relationships with their schools. Essentially, the retailers already have a foot in the door.
“We are engaged in several conversations with independent outfitters at the moment, one of which is Ian Margetson of The Schoolwear Centre in Margate, which is about to offer our Smart Tags in-store. We feel this structure is the least complicated and, given the relationships, he has already established within 75 schools, it will give us penetration of the market that would take us several months to achieve.”
Having designed and manufactured tags for the next generation, taking the traditional name tag and developing it into a Smart Tag, the next move for the company is launching a Find My Kit app. This will extend the service further by allowing an “authorised” individual, for example the head coach of a local Judo club, access to scanning, thereby greatly increasing the points of “retrieval”. For security reasons, only registered organisations are able to scan the tags and, if scanned by a member of the public, they will be directed to Find My Kit’s homepage.
Undoubtedly, school children have more high-value belongings on their person than they may have done in past generations, therefore raising the need, in some cases, for a more “high-tech” and reliable system for retrieving belongings. The son of Find My Kit’s co-founder Andrew Britton, in fact, lost a school blazer containing keys – both locker and house – his catering card, bus pass and, unbeknown to his sister, her iPod. It is a clear example of how the cost of lost school belongings can escalate easily beyond the cost, in this instance, of a replacement blazer, to all the added cost related to items in the blazer. Equally, given the prevailing economic climate, it was very apparent to Davies that today’s financial constraints mean replacing lost items is becoming more difficult for parents and, in some cases, parents are unable to replace items, with children having to “go without”. Find My Kit’s answer to the next generation’s lost property problems is, therefore, the Smart Tag.
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