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RFID Delivers Unexpected Benefits at American Apparel

A major reduction in employee theft, fewer processes errors and lower employee turnover add to the company's return on investment in RFID.
By Mark Roberti
The company is currently working with providers to adopt conventional EAS hard tags that contain built-in RFID tags on a solution that can be rolled out chain-wide.

Another side benefit of RFID, Shulman says, is a reduction in turnover of stockroom associates. Although she does not have figures available, she does note that she has noticed, anecdotally, that a stockroom employee's average tenure at an RFID-enabled store is longer than at a store that has not deployed the technology.

American Apparel has completed the first phase of its RFID rollout at its high-volume and high-shrinkage stores, including some in London, Paris and other international cities. The next phase, Shulman reports, will be to roll out the technology at its mid-volume stores, as well as at American Apparel outlets within larger department stores, such as Selfridges, in the United Kingdom.

At the same time, the company plans to begin expanding the RFID system's functionality, such as using it for managing fitting rooms, and for improving customers' general in-store shopping experience. The firm wants to have higher-quality metrics regarding all of its items and operations, so that it can provide better service to its valued customers.

"We are putting a lot of effort into improving our customer service and shopping experience, both in the store and online," Shulman says. "To assist these corporate efforts, we will be putting in systems that will tie into RFID to allow us to get real-time alerts on common retail customer service issues, and will assist in creating a more engaging shopping experience for our customers."

Additionally, American Apparel plans to implement RFID at its distribution center, so that it can quickly audit shipments before they are transported to the company's stores. This audit will uncover any packing errors, Shulman says, enabling the retailer to correct such mistakes at the source, further reducing the incidence of supply chain process errors.

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