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American Apparel Adds RFID to Two More Stores, Switches RFID Software RFID_Software

The clothing company has installed Xterprise's RFID software in 10 stores, and is now eyeing incremental installations in some of its other 280 outlets.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 12, 2010Continuing on its venture into item-level tagging of garments at its hundreds of stores, clothing retailer American Apparel is moving forward with its RFID deployment by installing the technology at two additional locations, thus providing the retailer with a total of 10 RFID-enabled shops.

All 10 stores will use Xterprise's Clarity Advanced Retail Solution (ARS) Electronic Product Code (EPC) and inventory-management RFID software application. Previously, eight of the locations had utilized an RFID software application other than Xterprise's. In 2008, American Apparel had indicated it would test the Clarity Advanced Retail System (see American Apparel Expands RFID to Additional Stores). ARS, says Zander Livingston, the retailer's director of RFID, will provide the company with greater flexibility than the previous RFID system it used, because it will allow the retailer to easily add new stores to the system, and because it offers an interface between the RFID software and the RetailPro software application that American Apparel utilizes for enterprise resource planning, inventory management and point-of-sale (POS) processes.

Thus far, American Apparel's IT department has written a command into the Xterprise software allowing the RetailPro application to receive an item's RFID number at the point of sale as if it were a bar-coded stock-keeping unit (SKU) number. This enables the staff to simply read the RFID tag in order to complete the checkout process (rather than reading an item's RFID tag and then scanning its bar-coded SKU number to link the sale with RetailPro). RetailPro and the ARS application still operate separately, however, and are not integrated with each other. American Apparel intends to link the two inventory-management systems, Livingston says, by making the necessary changes to the ARS software by writing applications that will allow that integration, which had not been possible with the previous software solution.

The Xterprise solution employs Microsoft's Windows Server 2009 R2 platform, SQL Server 2008 and BizTalk Server 2009, which includes BizTalk RFID and can manage hundreds of interrogators from a central server, says Dean Frew, Xterprise's founder and CEO. In that way, he says, the stores can run a central server, transmitting their data to that central location, which allows new stores to be easily added to the existing server. "The installation timeline for a new store can be measured in hours," Frew states.

The next phase for the company—which claims to be the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States—is to install an RFID-based electronic article surveillance (EAS) system in six Florida stores, Livingston says, which will send alerts if anyone attempts to take an item out of a store without paying for it.

At American Apparel's factories, workers apply an Avery Dennison RFID-enabled hangtag to each garment. The system also includes an RFID reader at the company's distribution center in Los Angeles. There, workers use a Motorola FX -7400 interrogator to read the EPC Gen 2 passive UHF RFID tag embedded in each garment's hangtag before the clothing is shipped to the stores.


John Feretich 2010-01-27 08:08:31 AM
RFID with EAS So if the item is sold at the POS but a EAS/RFID tag is left on, is the system smart enough to know its sold and not ring? Or maybe have a different sound of alert to tell the front end employee THIS IS SOLD BUT THE TAG WAS NO REMOVED. My point is why will RFID/EAS do that current EAS cannot.A RF frequency tag will always set off a system. I am curious if the action at the POS can alter the outcome at the door. And why use hard tags? go with something embedded no? Make it employee labor free.Isn't that the point of all this??
Claire Swedberg 2010-01-28 07:44:48 AM
senior editor : In the case of this deployment the EAS/RFID tag acts similarly to a standard EAS hard tag. It must be removed from the garment at the time of sale. If it isn't removed, the tag will be carried past the reader at the exit, the reader will capture the RFID number and trigger an alarm. The system is designed specifically for security only so there is no link between the RFID/EAS readers and the inventory or point of sale systems.
Michael Fein 2010-01-29 09:30:16 AM
Redundant EAS tag If every item is already tagged, it seems silly to add a second tag of the same protocol for just EAS. Why not just flip a few bits on the existing hangtag at the POS to indicate sold/not sold ?
Claire Swedberg 2010-01-29 12:51:05 PM
senior editor This EAS application is taking place in six separate stores that are not using the item level RFID hang tags. It is an unrelated pilot.

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