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American Eagle Outfitters Drives Business Value with Oracle HCM Cloud

A group of the nation’s top retailers gathered at Oracle HCM World in Chicago recently.  They came to hear Brian Jones, VP of HR for American Eagle Outfitters describe the process of going full digital with global cloud recruiting and HR.

The retail audience was mainly interested in three things: what was the business case, how was the transition planned and executed, and what results has American Eagle achieved so far?

Some background may help. American Eagle experienced rapid growth over the past decade or so, adding brands, expanding globally, and more than tripling annual revenue, which reached $3.5 billion in 2016. The company, with headquarters in the US, expanded in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America, over the past 15 years, and now has 1,190 stores - more than doubled their number of employees, now 37,800.

Early on, American Eagle embraced the strategic value of omin-channel retail consumer marketing. They wanted to take a similar approach with talent recruiting. However, rapid growth had left the company with a trail of disparate legacy systems, including everything from SAP SuccessFactors for performance management, to spreadsheets for compensation planning.

The Business Case

The proposal to deploy digital talent recruiting and HR management moved rapidly through American Eagle’s decision-making ranks, gaining board approval within two quarters. Brian shared five main points that drove the decision:

  • Global mobility. As part of an effort to leverage the well-recognized retail brand, social and mobile capabilities would be used to communicate to targeted groups of potential job applicants. Most of American Eagle’s workforce is between the ages of 15 and 25, very similar to the age range of the customer base. Increasingly comfortable with mobile and social applications, younger people –both applicants and consumers- identify with American Eagle’s employer brand message, “Live Your Life, Love Your Job.” To enforce this message, the applicant and employee experience needed to be easy and accessible.
  • Cost reduction from global HR operations. Of course, cost reductions are always compelling. Jones shared that the case for business data and process efficiency can be easy to quantify and support -especially when if you have many separate platforms and manual processes. The costs managing across multiple gaps in business processes and data access can be easy to quantify. For example, the cost of supporting inbound employee or manager service questions using multiple systems, or the impact on productivity caused by prolonged hiring and onboarding processes. The list goes on.
  • Global HR compliance. There are also easy to quantify costs attached to manually tracking and supporting regulatory changes, including potential legal claims and costly penalties. All of this adds up.
  • Global HR visibility. Universal data access provides the visibility and control to identify and manage multiple areas of potential labor cost reduction or process improvement, including everything from recruiting and onboarding to performance management, succession planning and compensation.
  • Global HR data science. Again, based on the vantage point of omni-channel consumer marketing, American Eagle sees a lot of potential in being able to collect and analyze data that can paint a clear and reliable picture of what is going on, past, present, and future, both inside and outside the organization. Jones cites the potential with a number of examples for performance benchmarking or even predictive analytics on multiple levels, by region, store, and even manager and employee levels. Retailers can begin to proactively manage business problems -like store attrition or poor manager performance- before they happen.

Lean Implementation

American Eagle implemented at a rapid pace, perhaps indicative of the company’s lean and youthful workforce culture. Jones himself is full of energy and enthusiasm. In hindsight, Jones recommends putting a dedicated project team in place. American Eagle’s rolled out the main Oracle HCM Cloud modules globally in just a few months.

While having new digital capabilities on a global scale is still relatively new to American Eagle, Jones has already seen a number of improvements. In particular, just being able to see unified HR data across multiple locations is a big change. Just being able to share global HR data has had a big impact on how the internal HR team collaborates and manages on a day-to-day basis. Jones sees the value of standardizing and sharing best practices, where before things were much looser and inconsistent. What he is most excited about is the potential to really start working with the data to drive business performance.


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