American Apparel

There may actually have been a bright spot during holiday for American Apparel after all.

The Los Angeles firm, though bogged down in store by lack of inventory newness in its most recently reported quarter, quietly began testing same-day shipping in New York and San Francisco during the holidays and its successes have chief digital officer Thoryn Stephens now plotting the program’s expansion.

“One of the challenges that I have in that owning of the digital channel and P&L is trying to improve the consumer experience,” Stephens said. “In the age of Amazon, there’s an expectation that two-day [shipping] is the minimum.”

And the industry will continue its march in that direction, Stephens said.

Although the company declined to reveal specific numbers, he said the same-day beta generated “significant revenue” even with no external marketing. Users mostly found the app needed to partake in the service stumbling upon it while using San Francisco-based logistics company Postmates’ app.

New York and San Francisco were tapped for the same-day test because of the existing stores in those markets and the volume of inventory carried. The stores are the main players in the same-day ship model as the product comes from those doors rather than a regional distribution center. Orders were generally arriving within 90 minutes in the beta and, in some cases, within the hour, according to Stephens.

Transaction sizes averaged $80 in the beta, with particularly strong sales coming from Brooklyn via high demand for the company’s bodysuits, leggings and hoodies. Stephen said he’s still going through the data to obtain the full takeaways from the tests.

American Apparel hasn’t been viewed as particularly innovative on the technology front, with any efforts more recently overshadowed by the drama that unfolded with the ouster of founder Dov Charney and the company’s bankruptcy, which it emerged from this month.

American Apparel did begin implementation of RFID technology in stores roughly four years ago and now counts about 15 million tags throughout its base of about 200 stores.

With the same-day beta now behind it, Stephens said the next step is to market the Postmates service to get a sense of customer appetite and then began offering it as a delivery service domestically. That could come as early as the latter part of the second quarter.

There are other initiatives on the table for American Apparel’s digital team, all subscribing to the over-arching theme of omnichannel services that aim to mimic the instant gratification found at brick-and-mortar.

The company had been in talks with Lyft late last year about a potential service that would enable customers who purchased something online to be driven to the nearby store for try on and pick up. The company’s bankruptcy placed that initiative on the back-burner, Stephens said, but evaluation of that can now resume.

An American Apparel app is also in development and due out for release by the end of the year.

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