Retail Case Study: American Apparel

May 5, 2013 Impinj
American Apparel

 

US retailer American Apparel leverages UHF RFID technology to improve store operations. This hands-free system gives 100%  visibility into inventory, helping to boost sales and decrease loss.

The RFID solution delivers: 

  • 100% store inventory visibility,  allowing for a robust omnichannel shopping experience 
  • A hands-free inventory system, removing reliance on store staff scanning and improving the recovery of lost items (1,500 lost items were detected and recovered in piloting store)
  • Item location tracking within 30 seconds of read, allowing for improved store security

Challenge

In order to improve inventory accuracy and on-shelf availability of products, American Apparel began using an RFID system that required workers at the American Apparel factory to tag products and retail staff to use handheld RFID readers to locate and count items in-store.

As American Apparel deployed RFID chain-wide, they envisaged more ways to leverage their existing RFID systems to improve business. American Apparel initially wanted to develop an RFID-enabled security system, and began working with Senitron Corporation, an RFID solution provider that specializes in hands-free reporting of merchandise counts and locations for retailers. After three months, American Apparel decided that a total store monitoring solution would be even more beneficial to the company, as it would assist customers and staff in locating merchandise, prevent loss of items, provide information to help with business analytics, and enhance security.

Senitron chose the UHF Gen 2-compliant Impinj GrandPrix™ platform for the Senitron Solution™, because the Impinj products performed well together, and because, as the application would require numerous antennas, the Speedway Antenna Hub was an ideal product to use. After six months spent developing a total store system, Senitron was invited to test its proposed solution with American Apparel. During the preliminary test, Senitron’s system found approximately 1,500 items in a retail store that the American Apparel staff believed to be lost. Impressed, American Apparel gave the go-ahead to deploy the system fully in two of its stores.

The Impinj powered solution from Senitron delivers on the dream of hands-free, full-time inventory visibility. We get accuracy that is as good or better than with hand held readers, in real-time and with less work. We have been amazed at the effortless accuracy of the Senitron system to not only deliver counts but also item locations. This enables a wealth of possibilities in our roadmap towards a robust omnichannel shopping experience for our customers.

How It Works

The American Apparel stores have 70-100 antennas mounted into the ceiling track lighting with a patent-pending quick connection system. The antennas are spaced out in an interlaced grid that varies depending on the product density and store layout. Impinj Speedway Revolution readers are also ceiling mounted and connected to multiple antennas using Impinj Speedway Antenna Hubs. The antenna system combined with Speedway readers and Antenna Hubs allows for a quick installation and consistent wide area monitoring of the entire store that also minimizes network infrastructure and power requirements.

All American Apparel products are tagged with Avery Dennison hang tags, powered by Impinj Monza chips. Typically, 98% of store products are tagged, amounting to as many as 75,000 units per store. The tags are continually monitored via the RFID antennas and readers. The data from the readers is transferred into a program that does first tier organization, then passes the organized data to an interim program which helps further process the data. After that, a summary file of the entire scan of the store is created, and tag location information is presented on the system’s user interface.

American Apparel is now able to continually monitor products in these two stores. This helps both staff and customers easily locate merchandise, and gives management additional product sales information that can be used in conjunction with POS data to improve business analytics. The Senitron wide-area monitoring system also improves security. American Apparel is able to monitor dressing rooms, restrooms and exits with non-visual measures; for example, management can see if a tag group moves into a restroom and disappears.

Benefits

American Apparel has greatly benefited due to the implementation of RFID and the Senitron Solution. First, American Apparel staff no longer has to use handheld readers; their inventory process is fully automated, which means that American Apparel staff can dedicate more time to customer service, and making sales.

Second, management now has 100% visibility of the store. Once a baseline is established, each item’s movement can be tracked within 30 seconds. Employees are able to easily locate items, and management is able to have accurate, real-time information about in-store products, all while expending less time and effort finding and inventorying items. This complete store visibility helps prevent theft and loss, improves the ability of customers to find desired items, and provides useful data to allow stores to test their merchandising effectiveness.

Due to the success of the Senitron Solution, American Apparel will be deploying the same wide-area monitoring RFID systems at 50 more of its stores.

American Apparel

American Apparel is an American clothing manufacturer and retailer founded in 1988. Unlike most retailers, American Apparel makes its own products at the American Apparel factory, the largest sewing facility in North America. American Apparel takes pride in its business model, which does not rely on offshore or onshore subcontracting, or exploitative wages for workers. Instead, the company pays garment workers and retail labor fairly, provides thousands of good jobs both domestically and internationally, and focuses on vertically integrating manufacturing, distribution and creative processes to keep the company efficient and competitive. American Apparel also prioritizes environmental sustainability, working to minimize its carbon footprint, recycle manufacturing waste, and prevent fuel and electricity waste. Today, American Apparel employs around 10,000 people and has over 254 stores worldwide.

In Collaboration with:

Senitron

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