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Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) System: Preventing retail shoplifting by Technology

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS)

What do you do when every month your accounting system tells you that you are incurring huge shoplifting losses in your departmental store? Do you hire more people to keep an eye on every shopper like a hawk or start putting things behind the counter? You can’t possibly bolt down every item or store everything in cases because that would severely impact the customer experience inside the store and amount to more losses for sure especially when the store next door is using better security measures while you are increasing prices to reduce your losses. 

A recent Forbes report estimated that retail shoplifting losses have become a 100B$ problem and organized retail crimes (ORC) are on the rise. During the covid19 pandemic, retailers faced around 88% increase in business risks, according to a survey. 

So how do you solve this problem and reduce losses due to theft? Well, various technologies are there to help you with that and EAS is the most prominent and cost-effective one. You wouldn’t want to invest too much in security in order to keep losses to a minimum.

How Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) System Works?

The Electronic Article Surveillance system is designed to deter shoplifting in retail and departmental stores. The EAS technology has been the go-to option for retailers in preventing retail shoplifting, with the help of EAS tags attached to merchandise and EAS gates installed at entry and exit points.

Electronic Article Surveillance offers a remote, automated mechanism to deter thieves as the EAS tags are clearly visible on merchandise on display and if items are shoplifted and taken through the EAS gate, an alarm system allows staff to intervene and prevent such losses. 

What is EAS?

Electronic article surveillance (EAS) is a security solution that allows retail business owners to tag each merchandise with EAS security tags and ensure no item leaves the store without going through the POS (Point of Sale). Even though EAS does not tell you about the item being stolen in terms of item identification, as RFID technology works, but the EAS system raises alarms whenever any item with an EAS tag leaves the store through the EAS gate system.

Electronic article surveillance (EAS) system uses two things: a tag and antenna also known as transmitter and the receiver. Merchandise is labeled with various EAS tags like Electromagnetic (EM), Acoustic-magnetic (AM), Radiofrequency (RF), etc. as needed to prevent shoplifting.

These tags work on different frequency ranges and come in various shapes and sizes like hard tags, labels, etc. A wide range of these tags are available with EnCStore like EAS flat pencil security tags, EAS security hang tags, EAS butterfly tags, plastic EAS lanyard security tags, etc.

EAS antenna gate system is installed at the entry and exit points to detect if items are being shoplifted, or mistakenly taken without payment from a retail store. When someone passes through the EAS gate, an alarm goes off if the EAS tag is still active on the merchandise. These tags need to be deactivated at the POS by the store staff after the customer has made the payment. EAS tag detacher is used for this purpose.

Acousto-magnetic tags are prominently used in retail stores and grocery stores as these work well with metals, without failing, unlike RF tags. Since most grocery carts are made of metals, AM tags are the ideal option here.

AM tags also have a high detection rate (90-95%), less misreporting, and account for 70-75% of the market share in EAS security tags.

EAS for Preventing Shoplifting in Retail Stores

Retail businesses continuously suffer from theft resulting in business shrink. According to a survey, 37 % of retailers’ shrink is caused by shoplifting by customers 28.5% by internal theft, and 25.7% shrink was due to process and control failures.

Electronic Article Surveillance tags have been in use since the 1970s, first used for apparel tagging in retail and departmental stores. The clearly visible EAS hard tags ensured that shoplifters were aware of EAS security tags, they consciously bought items at POS and did not shoplift for reasons of getting caught. As retail security improved over time, shoplifters also became creative.

Organized retail crimes have caused huge damage to retail businesses, mostly targeting items that are small, concealable, removed, expensive, and enjoyable like shoes, slippers, makeup items, accessories, electronics, clothing items, etc.

In 2022, $800k worth of Nike shoes and clothing were stolen in Memphis City, Tennessee. During Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests NIKE store in Chicago, USA was ransacked by protesters who were seen laughing while looting, in video footage that became viral.

While EAS can’t deter such ransacking by hundreds of people at once, occasional shoplifting done by people can be prevented to a great extent.

Many shoplifters are now aware of ways to get past the EAS security system and employ means of EAS tag deactivation or removal of the tag altogether using various means including the use of lined bags that block the Radio Frequency signals from the tags, using a screwdriver to destroy the EAS tags, using small EAS tag detachers to remove the tags, etc. 

In many countries such as the UK, it is against the law to carry such items into a retail store and people caught with screwdrivers, lined shopping bags, and EAS tag detachers are subjected to retail theft laws, punishable by jail term. 

In 1964, since Arthur Minasy invented EAS tags that can be attached to articles, the technology has matured a lot and retailers have benefited from employing this technology as well but new technologies like RFID and NFC will soon take over.

Electronic Article Surveillance is still very much in use in various countries and with the development of RFID tags and RFID security labels, it is suggested that EAS tags and RFID tags, both be used to prevent retail shrinkage while also keeping track of the inventory, stock, and accurately identifying items being stolen from the store.

EAS and RFID in combination will allow retailers to understand what kinds of items are sold in high demand as well as what kinds of items are more likely to be shoplifted in a particular area. 

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Feb 17, 2023

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