Why use security tags and labels?

Why use security tags and labels?

A recent security survey by the National Retail Federation indicates more and more retailers are turning to security tags, labels and electronic article surveillance (EAS) in a bid to reduce theft.

Here’s an insight into why EAS is gaining popularity and how retailers are using security tags and labels to lower the incidence of shoplifting when it comes to both individual theft and organized retail crime.

The recent findings

On June 6, the NRF released the National Retail Security Survey and found amidst emerging loss prevention strategies, security tags, and labels were on the rise, with an estimated 80.9 per cent of retailers now harnessing the power of EAS.

They found:

  • 46 per cent of retailers now use merchandise alarms/electronic security tags – an increase of 25.4 per cent since 2018.
  • 9 per cent of retailers now use acousto magnetic/electronic security tags – an increase of 12.7 per cent on 2018

So why the increase?

A bit about EAS, security tags and labels

Electronic Article Surveillance is considered the prime strategy when it comes to protecting items at a product level.

The system sees tags and labels affixed to products. These labels and tags are then in communication with a surveillance antenna positioned at the entryway to a retail outlet.

When tags and labels come into proximity of that antenna, an alarm sounds indicating an item is leaving the premises.

EAS has been around since the 1960s, and in the decades since, the technology, accuracy and affordability of this loss prevention method has increased dramatically.

Here are the benefits it offers.

EAS benefits

Why use security tags and labels?


EAS is renowned as extremely effective, resulting in an estimated 60-80 per cent decrease in external theft.

Individual product protection

The system is designed to protect individual products, meaning any item that a label or tag is affixed to will cause an EAS alarm to sound if it is being taken illegally from a store.

Immediate alert

The audible alarm means retail associates are immediately alerted to a theft in progress as the item is leaving the store. That allows them to retrieve the product and then seek to ascertain whether law enforcement should become involved.

Easy to use

Security tags and labels are easy to use, while the EAS antenna requires only minimal servicing and simple daily checks after installation.

Tags can be affixed quickly by staff and are removed at the Point of Sale using a detacher during the sales transaction. They can then be re-used time and again.

Labels do not require detaching, but rather are deactivated at the Point of Sale using a device that breaks the circuit in the label. This deactivator can even be incorporated into the barcode scanner for greater speed and efficiency.


A major benefit of EAS is that it’s scalable. If a retailer increases their stock volume, they simply buy more compatible tags and labels that communicate with the installed antenna system.

Additional retail outlets can also be easily outfitted with antenna, while using the same type of tags and labels across multiple outlets allows for economies of scale.

Visible deterrent

As shoplifting is often a crime of opportunity, the simple presence of a security tag or label means a product is much less likely to be a target of shoplifting.

Cost effective

Broadly speaking, a reputable EAS system has an expected lifespan of about 10-15 years.

Meanwhile, ongoing costs include purchasing replacement tags (when required) and labels. Compared to the cost of shrink, which results in an average loss of between one and three per cent of sales, EAS costs often pale into insignificance.

Aesthetically pleasing

As EAS technology has improved, so too has its look. Some EAS antenna can now be discreetly positioned within door frames, under the entryway floor or even in the ceiling, allowing for a streamlined look in-store.

Many options available

Security tags and labels are available for almost all imaginable products and in a variety of shapes and sizes. From clothing tags to labels, optical tags and liquor tags, there is a huge array of security tags and labels to suit every purpose in retail.

You can learn more about how EAS works and the types of security tags and labels available, or contact our friendly staff for further advice.