American Apparel Deploys RFID Inventory System

img-0006509.jpgOFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE – The Enterprise Mobility business of Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced that American Apparel, Inc. (Amex: APP), a company known for its vertically integrated business model and “Made in Downtown LA” clothing, is furthering its cutting-edge brand reputation by becoming one of the first retailers to roll out radio frequency identification (RFID) at the item-level. American Apparel plans to implement its RFID inventory system across each of its 17 stores in the New York metropolitan area over the next three months, with plans to eventually deploy the solution to an additional 120 North American locations.

The integrated solution being delivered by Vue Technology is comprised of TrueVUE hardware and software products, fixed and mobile RFID readers and antennas from Motorola’s Enterprise Mobility business, and tags and printers from Avery Dennison. The solution enables American Apparel to track individual items as they are tagged at the company’s manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, received in its retail stores, stored in the stock rooms at the stores, and then placed onto the sales floor and ultimately sold at the point-of-sale (POS).

The initial deployment of American Apparel’s roll-out took place at the company’s Columbia University location in New York City. To date, over 40,000 individual pieces of merchandise have been tagged so that store personnel can use fixed and mobile RFID readers to track inventory on a real-time basis, contributing to a well-stocked store and improving customer service through timely responses to customer questions regarding in-store merchandise.

By using an item-level RFID system, American Apparel is able to fulfill its vision of consistently offering merchandise in every size and color on store floors at all times, creating a more rewarding customer experience and simplifying the inventory process for in-store staff. Store associates can now take inventory much more quickly and with greater accuracy. Replenishment activities have been dramatically improved resulting in on-floor availability at over 99%. Weekly inventory processes can now be accomplished with just two people in two hours instead of requiring four people for eight hours as previously needed. As a result, store associates have more time to service customers and improve store merchandising in order to make sought out items easier to find.

“American Apparel takes pride in being a vertically-integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of fashionable, high-quality basics, and we embrace any technology that allows us to further realize this vision to better serve our customers,” said Zander Livingston, RFID technology director for American Apparel. “We look forward to deploying the technology on a larger scale so that our entire organization can leverage the value of RFID to improve overall inventory management processes and enhance our customers’ shopping experience.”

By deploying the technology in additional stores, American Apparel expects to increase sales and customer service by having real-time visibility into product at nearby stores, enhancing the intra-store transfer process to balance stock. Furthermore, the retailer will be able to respond more efficiently to market behavior by using RFID to record and report on purchases, not only within one location, but across a region of stores.

American Apparel selected the technologies for the solution based on innovation, market leadership and proven success to work seamlessly together to achieve item-level visibility. Motorola MC9090-G RFID handheld readers are used for “cycle counting” and Motorola XR440 fixed readers with AN480 antennas track stock moving from the backroom to the sales floor. Vue’s TrueVUE Site Manager, Enterprise Manager, Essentials, Essentials Mobile, Commissioning, and Exchange were all selected to provide the enterprise-wide device and network management, desktop and mobile workflows, EPC commissioning, and developer interfaces to RFID. Various VUEPoints, item-level antennas from Vue were also used at receiving stations and for Point-of-Sale. Finally, Avery Dennison AD-222 tags were chosen for their
consistency and accuracy in tracking merchandise.

“We’ve noticed an increasing trend among retailers that are implementing RFID at the item-level, and American Apparel is a prime example of a retailer on the forefront of this trend,” said Dr. Bill Hardgrave, professor of Information Systems and the executive director of the Information Technology Research Institute at the University of Arkansas. “With RFID technology, American Apparel will be able to improve the efficiency andaccuracy of their supply chain, ultimately resulting in the right products in the right place at the right time and an enhancement of the overall customer experience.”