Latest Blog Posts

Preventing Retail Theft

Can you predict retail theft?

It would be nice to imagine retailers could gaze into a crystal ball and predict where and when theft or shrink was likely to occur.

According to experts, they can – by using metrics and data that reveal what’s really going on in-store and then projecting the findings to understand what’s likely to happen in the future.

Here’s an insight into some of the most effective ways retailers can gauge the likelihood of where and when theft is likely to happen, and how they can then prevent it becoming a reality.

Metrics and retail shrink

In a recent article in Loss Prevention Magazine, editor Tom Meehan explained how his team once created a shrink prediction model based on three years of data in five key areas.

They looked at:

  • Store sales and shrink – examining sales, customer traffic data, the number of transactions and the value of shrink in dollars.
  • External risks – such as shoplifting cases, proprietary fraud, recoveries, return rate, and general liability claims.
  • Internal risk – including store turnover, cash averages versus shortages, cases of dishonest employees, worker’s compensation claims, and audits.
  • Operations scores – like employee engagement, net promoter scores, order pick numbers, staffing, shipment needs, defect data, and return to vendor scenarios.
  • Vicinity metrics – proximity to metro transits, third party risk scores, distance to major cities, and the region of the US.

What the metrics offered       

Together, these metrics provided an insight into current loss across the business, but also offered an understanding of why that loss was occurring.

Meehan noted pick rates were particularly useful as they not only indicated staff were having trouble finding items because they were misplaced or missing, but it also highlighted operational inefficiency that could be addressed.

Likewise, employee engagement stores provided valuable information about how staff felt in their work environment. Those stores with a higher staff satisfaction scores tended to experience less loss.

Meanwhile, he reflected, the entire experience of delving into the data served as a reminder that shrink was often tied to the customer experience.

Ultimately, it also enabled his team to look in places they hadn’t before to combat retail shrink.

But where do you find all this information?

Big data, big potential

Big data has emerged as a big deal in 2018, with Inside Retail noting “the capture, interpretation and ultimate application of consumer data emerged as a key takeaway from this year’s National Retail Federation Big Show in New York”.

As loss prevention specialist Vitag explains: “The reason for its popularity is that data enables retailers to better understand what their customers seek, how their stores run, what loss they incur, and then ultimately enables them to create the “customer experience” real-world retail rightfully covets in a changing shopping world”.

They note in almost any retail environment, you can capture data through:

The Point of Sale – Where data extends from stock at hand through to individual staff sales, returns, hourly, daily or monthly sales, inventory and more.

Customer insights – like traffic counting that indicates when a store is busy, or heat mapping that shows where people stop within a retail environment.

Staff management – which is drawn from the POS and the sales transactions a staff member makes, but can also encompass new technology like Invue Access Manager, which tracks what staff members access which secure displays using smart keys.

A step further – advanced and predictive analytics

All this data offers an insight into what has happened in a store, but when coupled with predictive analytics and machine learning, the power to foretell what will happen in the future becomes even greater.

The Wall Street Journal explains advanced analytics allows “retailers accomplish more with less, turning data into actionable insights to help reduce or prevent these losses”.

“The greatest benefits lie in identifying the areas of retail loss that historically have gone undetected. Advanced analytics can help companies answer key questions, including what stores to focus on and why, and how to proactively manage those stores as patterns are uncovered.”

They note advanced analytics helps retailers identify:

  • High risk products
  • High risk stores
  • High risk transactions
  • High-risk relationships
  • High-risk labor spending

“By deploying more advanced analytics options, retailers can focus store audit questions on key operational opportunities and high-risk metrics. They can increase visibility into store performance and measure progress over time while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of field resources.”

 

Tags on the floor

Security tags on the floor? That’s telling you something

Electronic article surveillance is one of the most effective strategies employed by retailers in the war against theft.

It’s efficacy is so highly regarded, the Global Retail Theft Barometer notes 73 per cent of retailers employ EAS in a bid to combat the US$123.4 billion cost of shoplifting that occurs annually.

That said, EAS is only as good as its implementation and application. Its reliability depends on being up-to-date and applying the right tag to the right product in an era when thieves are increasingly savvy and tips on shoplifting are but a Google search away.

If you’re finding security tags on the floor and items have been stolen, it’s telling you something very important about your EAS.

Here’s an insight into why that might be the case and what you should do to swing the security tag battle back into your favor.

Why am I finding tags on the floor?

If you’re a retailer who has gone to the effort of investing in and affixing tags to your merchandise, there are few scenarios more frustrating than realizing shoplifters have circumvented the system.

But the truth is there are some very simple and entirely preventable reasons this may be happening.

Here are just a few…

Insufficient magnet strength

Most security tags rely on magnets as their locking mechanism. That means they close using magnetic force and are reopened using a magnetic detacher. And they come in different strengths ranging from Standard to SuperLock, HyperLock and Multipolar.

Not so long ago, standard strength tags would have sufficed when it came to combating shoplifting, and many retailers still only have standard strength tags in operation.

But now detachers for these can be purchased on the internet, and thieves can also access a host of tips and tricks to circumvent this locking strength.

As a result, Superlock is the recommended minimum strength, with Hyperlock and Multipolar offering additional security.

Wrong tag shape

Just as tags have different strengths, they also come in different shapes and sizes, with some more readily circumnavigated than others.

When it comes to tag shape, the less surface area a would-be thief can use for leverage, the more difficult a tag is to prise open.

That sees clam shell shaped tags less prone to tampering.

Incorrect pin head size

All clothing tags comprise two elements, the pin component (or back) that passes through the garment, and the locking mechanism EAS tag (front) that houses and secures the pin using a magnet or mechanical mechanism.

If you’re finding complete unopened tags on the floor, chances are the shoplifter is pushing the pin head through the garment or cutting a small hole in an item to remove the tag.

A solution to consider in this instance is employing larger pin heads. Larger pin heads are not only harder to illicitly remove but deter any shoplifters from trying as they are more likely to damage the garment, reducing its value or aesthetic appeal.

The right tag for the right item

While apparel is usually secured with clothing tags, other items like fashion accessories require a different approach. Handbags and shoes, for example, might be better protected with cable tags or lanyards that connect into security tags.

If you’re finding cable or lanyard tags on the floor, it might indicate your lanyard or cable is not reinforced and can be easily cut. Lanyards and cables are available with metal reinforcement which makes them much harder to sever and remove the tag from an item.

Extra measures available

In addition to looking at the strength, shape and pinhead size of your security tags, it might also be worth employing some additional deterrents in the form of benefit denial, such as ink tags.

Ink tags deter shoplifters from attempting to remove a security tag illegally as tampering with the tag causes indelible ink to permanently stain the item.

Meanwhile, loss prevention is always a multi-faceted approach. In addition to EAS, it should involve further strategies like staff training, staff screening, camera surveillance, and good store layout with high value items positioned so they are visible to staff.

Retail Crime Blog Post

Organized retail crime at an all-time high

As the retail sector embraces the busiest season of the year, the National Retail Federation is warning of the impact of organized retail crime (ORC), noting this year ORC is at an all-time high, affecting 92 per cent of retailers and costing them $777,877 per $1 billion in sales.

In a report issued in late November, the NRF found nearly three in four US retailers had seen an increase in organized retail crime in the past year, and for over a third of survey participants that increase was “significant”.

Here’s an insight into the latest organized retail crime statistics, and how retailers can combat the growing threat.

The survey

Each year the National Retail Federation conducts a survey of retailers to specifically gauge the impact of organized retail crime, with the report now in its 14th year.

Defined by the NRF as “the large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to resell the merchandise for financial gain”, ORC contributes to the growing impact of shoplifting, which US retailers note is their top source of inventory shrink. In total shoplifting accounts for 35.7% of retail loss.

This year’s survey found ORC losses over the past 12 months had risen seven per cent on last year to equal $777,877 per $1 billion in sales.

“Retailers continue to deal with increasing challenges and complications surrounding organized retail crime,” NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca said.

“These criminals find new ways to expand their networks and manipulate the retail supply chain every day. The retail industry is fighting this battle by upgrading technology, improving relationships with local law enforcement and taking steps such as tightening return policies, but it is a never-ending battle.”

What’s targeted

Organized Retail Crime typically targets items that can easily be stolen and quickly resold.

The NRF notes that means items range from rom low-cost products like laundry detergent, razors, deodorant, infant formula and blue jeans to high-end goods like designer clothing and handbags, expensive liquor and cellphones.

Stolen goods are recovered anywhere from flea markets and pawnshops to online. Meanwhile, there’s a growing trend that sees thieves return the stolen items without a receipt to exchange them for gift cards.

Retailers attribute the increase in ORC to the easy online sale of stolen goods, gift card fraud, shortage of staff in stores and demand for certain brand name items or specific products.

In addition, a number of states have increased the threshold for a theft to be considered a felony, meaning criminals can steal a larger quantity of goods while keeping the crime a misdemeanor and avoiding the risk of higher penalties that come with the commission of a felony, the NRF notes.

Ways to combat organised theft

The NRF survey found retailers spend an average of 10.2 per cent of their loss prevention budget to combat ORC, with about a quarter devoting over 10 per cent.

In response to the growing threat, almost 60 per cent of retailers are allocating more resources to combat organized retail crime this year.

This includes additional funding for the following:

  • Technology –36.4 per cent of retailers
  • Staff resources – 30.3 per cent of retailers
  • Other budget resources –16.7 per cent of retailers
  • No additional resources – 40.9 per cent of retailers

Many retailers noted they had also employed further strategies such as reassessing their returns and gift card policy to combat return fraud, altering their store layout to move displays away from entry areas, and increased staff training.

Top tips

Combatting organised retail crime should be part of a retailer’s greater strategy to reduce shoplifting, and it is a battle retailers need to consistently invest in and reassess.

Questions retailers and management should be asking themselves include:

  • Does the layout of the store lend itself to stock security (are all areas visible to staff)?
  • Is staff training up to scratch?
  • Is the store’s electronic article surveillance (EAS) system up to par?
  • Are the right security tags being employed on the right products (i.e. Bottle tags for liquor, cable tags for handbags, high-strength tags for valuable apparel).
  • Should security on small-sized items be increased, with multi-function tags or stoplocksfor items like electronic accessories and razors?
  • Should the fitting room be better protected?
  • Should some stock be stored behind the counter?
  • Are EAS tags the right strength? Thieves are becoming savvier, so the recommend minimum strength for magnetic tags is superlock as superlock tags cannot opened by old low-power magnetic detachers. You can learn more about tags and strengths here.
  • Would RFID assist in helping me keep track of inventory across the busy period?

As the NRF notes:

Organized retail crime is an ongoing challenge for retailers, with losses continuing to mount” and ORC gang members are “are increasingly bold in their tactics”. It is a combustible combination — one that requires loss prevention professionals to stay one step ahead during a time in which budgets are tight and laws are less and less of a deterrent.”

Retail Security Events

Top retail loss prevention events in the US

Each year the retail industry, law enforcement agencies and researchers band together to offer a host of events designed to combat retail theft and improve loss prevention strategies throughout the United States.

From the newest products to the latest insights and technology, these conferences are designed to arm retailers with the tools and knowledge they need in the ongoing battle against retail shrink.

Here’s an insight into some of the top retail loss prevention events in the US in 2019.

MRC Vegas 2019

Run by the Merchant Risk Council and spanning four days, MRC Vegas has an eCommerce focus. This annual conference draws about 1600 people and 450 companies and is the largest global conference focused on fraud prevention, payment processing, technology, cybersecurity and financial services for eCommerce professionals.

When: March 18-22, 2019

Where: Las Vegas, NV

Website: https://www.merchantriskcouncil.org/events

RILA Retail Asset Protection Conference

Attended by over 800 asset professionals annually, the Retail Asset Protection Conference attracts top level executives from the most progressive retailers in the world.

Those attending share and tap into the best ideas in the industry to improve organisational effectiveness and examine where the industry is heading in the future.

The conference program is developed by RILA’s Asset Protection Steering Committee – a cohort of retail experts from the most recognized brands in world.

When: May 5-8, 2019

Where: Orlando, FL

Website: http://www.rila.org/protection/Pages/AssetProtectionHome.aspx

Retail Innovation Conference

With a focus on the future, the Retail Innovation Conference looks at changes within the retail industry and where it’s going.

Last year’s conference grew by 40 per cent with some of the biggest names in the retail industry attending. It sees retail professionals share ideas, innovation, technology and tactics through keynote speeches, workshops and panels.

The conference also offers actionable takeaways and insight from renowned retail analysts.

When: May 6-9, 2019

Where: New York City, NY

Website: https://retailinnovationconference.com/

NRF Protect

Renowned as the retail industry’s premier loss prevention event, NRF Protect attracts over 2500 attendees each year to witness 90 speakers, tap the knowledge of 200 exhibitors and meet representatives of over 300 brands.

This is arguably the biggest retail loss prevention of the year and covers everything from cyber and digital crime to risk management, talent and culture, theft and fraud, and workplace violence.

When: June 11-13, 2019

Where: Anaheim, California

Website: https://nrfprotect.nrf.com/

LPRC Impact

Hosted by the Loss Prevention Research Council, LPRC Impact focuses on research to help retailers assess their loss prevention strategies and the impact they have on sales, crime and loss levels.

The two-day program comprises presentations, panels, and learning labs.

When: TBA

Where: TBA

Website: http://lpresearch.org/impact/

CLEAR 2019 National Conference

Hosted by the Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retail, the annual CLEAR National Conference brings together law enforcement agencies and retail corporations, with the aim of improving theft detection and loss prevention, and devising strategies to keep stores safe.

Its major focus is: “To promote and encourage municipal, county, state, and federal organizations to create and support enforcement and detection units to combat property such as but not limit to; organized retail crime, fencing of stolen property, cargo theft, identity theft and fraud, burglary, theft, and organized property crime schemes.”

2019 will mark the 10th year this conference is hosted and it also features an emphasis on legislation to target organised retail crime and general shoplifting.

When: TBA

Where TBA

Website: https://clearusa.org/index.php

TCORCA Conference

Running over two days, the TCORCA Conference features a host of topics, keynote speakers and break-out sessions that focus specifically on Organised Retail Crime and other loss prevention strategies.

The aim of the event is to offer retailers an insight into the best practices and training to more effectively target and combat organised retail crime.

When: TBA

Where: TBA

Website: https://www.tcorca.org/tcorca-conference/

 

Black Friday Blog Post

Black Friday 2018 set to be a bumper event for retail

As the nation gears up for the retail bonanza that is Black Friday, 2018 is tipped to be a bumper year and retailers with both a physical and online presence look set to be the biggest beneficiaries.

According to a new survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), this year consumers plan to spend an average of $5,54.90 across the Thanksgiving Weekend, with 46 per cent of shoppers looking to fork out more than they did last year.

So, as retailers ready for the season of shopping, here’s what you need to know…

A big year for retail

As consumer confidence increases, so too will the urge to spend, the ICSC predicts. They note consumer confidence is now at its highest in two decades and as a result, shoppers will be keen to open their wallets and spend extra this year.

In total consumers plan to spend an average of $554.90 across the Thanksgiving Weekend, with almost a third of that ($207.30) dedicated to Christmas gifts.

Meanwhile, The Balance explains November 23 will kick off what is traditionally the busiest period of the retail calendar with 30 per cent of all retail sales occurring between Black Friday and Christmas.

The entire period is set to see $715 billion injected into the economy – three per cent more than in 2017.

Digital or physical?

Recent years have been dominated by discussion that online was killing physical retail as consumers sought to source the best Black Friday bargains online.

Last year, Retail Dive noted walk-in traffic was down one per cent on the year prior. But according to the ICSC, it is omnichannel retailers that stand to do best.

They note 93 per cent of consumers are planning to spend with retailers that have both a physical and a digital presence.

The trend will be driven by the “buy online, pick-up in-store” push, and that subsequent store visit will likely result in welcome additional spending.

The ICSC states 77 per cent of consumers indicate they are likely to spend additional money at that store or adjacent retailers.

“It’s clear that having a strong physical and digital presence continues to drive sales – and Black Friday is no exception,” said Tom McGee, President and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers. “This year’s survey results once again show that consumers want options and will shop both in-store and online throughout the holiday season.”

Meanwhile, 71 per cent of shoppers are actively planning to visit bricks and mortar stores, with the Millennial generation leading the charge. Eighty-three per cent of Millennial shoppers indicated they would be spending at shopping centres or malls.

Biggest shoplifting day of the year

With more foot traffic in retail outlets than any other day of the year, retail theft also experiences a rise.

In fact, Fortune notes Black Friday is the single day when most thefts occur in general, with statistics rising by up to 28 per cent.

In retail, the rise is fuelled by a combination of packed stores, laden shelves, busy sales associates, and ample opportunity which leads to spike in shoplifting and fraud-related crimes.

So how do you protect your store?

Used by 73 per cent of retailers, according to the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer, electronic article surveillance remains one of the most popular and effective loss prevention strategies.

Using antenna and security tags, it allows sales associates to be automatically notified by alarm that a product or merchandise is leaving the store.

But its effectiveness is only as good as its implementation.

In advance of the busiest period of the retail year, store management should ensure:

  • The right type of tag or label is fitted to the right type of merchandise (clothing tags for apparel, lanyards and tags for fashion accessories like shoes and handbags, optical tags for eye wear etc)
  • Tags are of a sufficient locking strength, with Superlock magnetic strength considered the minimum standard.

Meanwhile, further loss prevention strategies include:

  • Good staff screening – Ensure all staff, including Black Friday casuals, have been reference-checked thoroughly.
  • Staff training – All staff should be trained on proper store procedures that include meeting and greeting customers, and watching for key signs of suspicious behavior.
  • Secure store layout – Ensure high-value items are kept within easy monitoring of staff, and there is a clear line of sight to all areas of the floor.
  • Secure cupboards – Provide your staff with easy yet secure access to storage cupboards.
  • Use your EAS – All items should be tagged with tags of sufficient magnetic strength, while smaller items need to be labelled. If you are finding tags removed, your EAS is telling you security needs to be improved.
  • Use your RFID – RFID gives you an insight into stock levels, loss, where an item is in the chain of supply, and inventory holdings. Use it to ensure you have adequate items on hand while balancing the issue of too much stock that leads to loss through markdowns.
  • Employ surveillance – Visible surveillance like CCTV cameras acts as a direct deterrent against theft.

If all predictions are correct, this year’s Black Friday sales promise to be a boon for the retail industry. The art of maximizing the surge in sales comes down to ensuring the stock that stands to lure interest is also protected against opportunistic thieves.

Choosing the right security tag

Selecting the right security tag or label to protect your merchandise comes down to a series of key factors, including the type of merchandise you sell, its value, and the existing electronic article surveillance (EAS) system you have in place.

At Securitytags.com, we have tags compatible with radio frequency and acousto magnetic EAS systems, and our tag styles are suited to a wide variety of merchandise, ranging from clothing and fashion accessories to liquor and eyewear.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the features to consider when choosing the right tag for your store.

Your existing system

Your type of electronic article surveillance system determines which type of EAS tags and labels will be required to protect your merchandise.

EAS systems are commonly available in two types; acousto magnetic (AM) and radio frequency (RF) with the difference between the two systems being the frequency at which they operate.

AM systems, such as Sensormatic, will only work with AM compatible tags, while RF antenna like Checkpoint will only work with RF compatible tags.

Merchandise type

The type of merchandise you sell, along with the volume that is sold, also influences which tag or label will be suited to your security needs.

Clothing – Clothing is generally secured using hard security tags which are available in a variety of shapes, with different operating mechanisms and strengths. Each of these factors adds up to improve the security of your items.

Clothing tags comprise three key elements; the tag (which houses the EAS receiver), the pin (which passes through the garment) and the locking mechanism (which secures the pin into place).

More will be explained about the locking mechanism and strength later, but in terms of security, round (shell) tags are often favoured because the shape is harder to prise apart, while the size of the pinhead should also be taken into account.

The larger the pin head, the harder it is to pull through the garment without shoplifters damaging the item and rendering it useless.

Meanwhile, ink dye tags are also commonly used on clothing and can be employed to enhance an EAS tag or instead of electronic article surveillance.

Ink dye tags are a benefit denial strategy that sees permanent ink released into the garment when the tag is tampered with.

Fashion accessories 

When it comes to fashion accessories such as handbags and shoes, they are most often secured using a cable tag or a lanyard and tag, rather than having a pin pass through the actual product.

Lanyards should incorporate high-strength cables that cannot be cut readily or pulled off by a thief. Meanwhile sunglasses can be guarded using purpose-designed optical tags.

Electronic accessories and high value consumables

Electronic accessories and consumables such as batteries and razors are some of the most frequently stolen items within the retail environment. The best ways to secure them include display hook stop locks, and multi-function tags.

Bottles

Whether it’s top-shelf liquor, or a rare bottle of red, there is a range of tags designed specifically for liquor bottles, with straps, caps and secure locks available.

Small items 

For small items like groceries or hardware which tend to be sold in high volumes, adhesive security labels are the best option due to their affordability and disposability. However, you will need to factor in whether flat, paper-thin labels are preferred or small two-dimensional labels.

It’s worth noting that pharmaceuticals often have a high foil content, so AM based systems are better suited to their security.

Level of security

The locking mechanism that secures the pin into the tag determines how easy it is to force a tag apart and remove it.

This locking mechanism can either be mechanical or magnetic. In terms of magnetic locking mechanisms, they come in a variety of strengths, with the latest technology boasting almost impenetrable security.

Magnetic strength falls into the following classes:

  • Standard – Featuring a standard strength magnet, this option remains popular with legacy systems but has the greatest potential to be circumvented by thieves.
  • SuperLock – Using a high-powered magnet often more than double the strength of standard magnets, tags of this grade provide increased resistance against illicit removal.
  • HyperLock – Unlocked using a combination of multiple high-powered magnets arranged into a single detacher body. HyperLock is available in tags such as the BossTag range.
  • HyperLock offers extra security as detachers are difficult for would-be criminals to manufacture, source and carry around.

Further questions?

If you have further questions about which security tags or labels are best suited to your retail environment, our staff are available to assist and can be contacted here.

RF OR AM – WHICH ELECTRONIC ARTICLE SURVEILLANCE (EAS) SYSTEM IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

Since it first rolled out in the 1960s, Electronic Article Surveillance has become one of the most effective and popular methods of securing valuable retail merchandise against theft.

Its usage is so widespread, that is estimated almost three quarters (73 per cent) of retailers harness its power.

Meanwhile, the past 40 years have seen major developments and improvements in both its detection capability and visual appeal, with a range of tags and pedestals available to suit any environment.

If you’re a retailer looking to employ the loss prevention strategy that is EAS, here’s what you need to know…

The lowdown on EAS

Electronic Article Surveillance works on the premise that merchandise is fitted with an electronic tag or label that communicates with an instore antenna, usually positioned near the entry to a store.

When that tag comes into range of the antenna, an alarm sounds, alerting store management that an item is illegally leaving the store.

When items are sold legitimately, the cashier either deactivates a label or physically removes the tag, meaning no alarm will sound when an item has been properly processed.

Some frequency facts

There are two commonly used types of EAS – radio frequency (RF) and acousto magnetic (AM), and the difference between them is the frequency at which they operate. This frequency is measured in hertz.

Acousto Magnetic systems operate at 58 KHz, which means a signal is sent out in pulses or bursts between 50 and 90 times a second while Radio Frequency or RF operates at 8.2 MHz

Each type of EAS has benefits, making some systems more suited to specific retailers than others.

So, let’s look into the pros and cons of each.

Radio Frequency (RF) technology – swept or pulsed

RF electronic article surveillance comprises hard tags or soft labels that communicate with one or more antenna. These antennas can be positioned in pedestals in the shop doorway or even under the floor.

The tags/labels have tiny circuits that resonate between 7.4 to 8.8 MHz, with the most popular frequency being 8.2 MHz.

RF antenna

RF antenna can operate in a number of ways based on whether they use swept or pulsed technology.

Using Swept RF Technology, one pedestal acts as a transmitter, sending out a signal. If an intact tag or label comes into the pedestal vicinity, it will resonate and this is detected by the second pedestal acting as a receiver. An alarm will then sound.

In the case of pulsed RF Technology, a single pedestal antenna both sends and receives the signal, sounding an alarm when a tag is detected within range.

If you’re looking to protect a wide doorway, multiple swept or pulsed pedestals can be used, depending on the width of the doorway being guarded.

RF tags and labels

Tags and labels range from an array of small ultra-thin adhesive labels through to a variety of hard tags, and are suitable for a numerous applications, including clothing, food and pharmaceutical products.

Historically RF has been considered more affordable to install and is often most popular with retailers who use adhesive security labels over security hard tags.

RF tag and label deactivation

Labels are deactivated by using a Label Deactivator to overload the integrated capacitor and effectively break the label’s circuit, while hard tags are removed at the point of sale normally by a powerful magnetic security tag detacher.

Why retailers select it

RF is often favored due to the flat footprint of its paper labels that make it suitable for high volumes of packaged products, and for the easy integration of Deactivation into Point of Sale Scanners.

Probably due to its perceived lower price, RF remains the most widely adopted EAS technology worldwide.

Although RF EAS is not to be confused with RFID, some RF antennas can easily be upgraded to RFID where RF and RFID technology work side by side in the same antenna.

RF limitations

RF does have limitations, however. The technology has traditionally been more sensitive to electrical interference caused by other local electronic fixtures that often don’t affect alternative EAS technologies.

Although in the real world it’s not a problem, RF Security Labels cannot be reactivated once the circuit is broken.

Detection systems are generally limited to doorway pedestals, although recently some RF floor-based systems have become popular.

Who uses RF EAS

Radio Frequency EAS is perfectly suited to retailers with a high volume of packaged products due to the convenience of adhesive, flat tags.

That makes RF the system of choice for supermarkets, discount stores, chemists and video stores.

That said, the ability to upgrade some RF EAS systems to RFID means its usage has recently grown in apparel stores.

RF benefits at a glance

  • Affordability: Price can range from very low cost for more basic RF systems to high cost for advanced RF systems.
  • Available as flat paper labels
  • Wide range of label shapes, sizes and presentation
  • Labels can be printed on
  • Potential for upgrade path to RFID with some RF antenna systems
  • Easy high-speed security label deactivation including possible integration with POS scanners
  • Available from many manufacturers

RF disadvantages

  • Labels cannot be reused once the circuit is broken
  • Limited range of detection systems traditionally limited to pedestals
  • More susceptible to electronic and metallic interference

Acousto Magnetic (AM)

Acousto Magnetic EAS sees a transmitter send out a signal in bursts which energize tags within the pedestal zone. When the pulse ends, the tag responds.

Between bursts, the tag’s signal is detected by a receiver. Therefore, if an active tag passes between the pedestals, an alarm will sound.

AM Antenna

One of the major drawcards of Acousto Magnetic technology is that it offers an extended detection range to RF and is normally less susceptible to external electronic interference.

For retailers this provides greater flexibility for installation of the antennas, which can be pedestal-based, concealed within door frames or housed under the floor at the entry of the store.

Meanwhile, AM adhesive security labels can often work on or near metals where other technologies fail.

AM tags and labels

AM hard tags are available in a range of sizes, and can be reused.

Although smaller than RF labels, AM labels are not paper thin and instead have a raised profile. Labels can potentially be deactivated and reactivated, although this is not common practice. They are activated when magnetized and deactivated when demagnetized.

AM tag and label deactivation

AM tags and labels are activated and deactivated using purpose-built magnets that match the strength of the tags.

AM Limitations

AM was traditionally more expensive to install than RF, however due to increased competition, system costs have come down in recent years.

The raised profile of AM labels has also been seen as a drawback for retailers like grocery stores who sell small, high-turnover goods.

Who uses AM?

AM is more often seen in small to large clothing apparel outlets, large department stores, DIY shops, electronic shops, and pharmaceutical retailers where products have metallic components in their packaging.

AM benefits at a glance

  • Larger detection area so antenna can be positioned further apart
  • Less susceptible to electronic interference
  • Systems can be concealed in door structures or under flooring
  • Security labels can be reused and reactivated
  • Accurate detection of tags and labels

AM disadvantages

  • Often the cost is higher than RF
  • Labels can’t be bent around merchandise and can’t be easily printed on
  • Antennas are not easily upgradable to RFID

The bottom line

EAS is a highly effective way of protecting merchandise against theft. The key to selecting the right system for your retail outlet involves considering the type of items sold, their value, the physical layout of the entryway and further considerations such as any future upgrade to RFID.