In order to streamline day to day business operations and to improve security, RFID and EAS have become quite important for businesses of all kinds especially retail. The EAS tags and RFID tags are most opted security and tracking tools in retail industry for shoplifting and stock shrinkage are leading causes of retail losses. According to Forbes magazine, shoplifting has become a 100 billion USD problem in recent years, in USA alone. During pandemic, organized retail crimes (ORC) saw a surge in various US cities like Chicago, New York etc.
Electronic articles surveillance (EAS) and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) both are wireless tools that are heavily employed in retail shopping stores and departmental stores. Both these technologies use radio frequency to communicate between a tag and an interrogator but there are various differences that set these two apart.
What is EAS?
Electronic Article Surveillance, as the name suggests, is a surveillance tool that businesses use to monitor product movement inside a store and inventory as well.
EAS uses an EAS tag and an interrogator to perform the surveillance. Whenever someone tries to slip away with an unpaid article in a retail store, the EAS gate at the exit that works as the interrogator catches the radio signal coming from the EAS tag attached to the article and sounds an alarm, notifying that an unbilled article is passing through the gate.
EAS tags come in varied sizes and can be embedded in all sorts of retail and jewelry items that are valuable. Acousto Magnetic (AM) EAS tags, being the most common, operate at a frequency of 58 KHz.
Use of EAS is quite a deterrent in preventing retail theft but another problem that retail stores struggle with is visibility. Visibility of stock and timely replenishment of store stock from the inventory is quite important.
What is RFID?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an AIDC tool that is used for data capture and identification purposes. Businesses employ RFID for tracing and tracking needs that range from in-house tracking to inventory control and supply chain management.
A RFID system consists of a RFID tag, antenna and a RFID reader. The RFID reader receives the radio frequency signal coming from the RFID tag through an antenna and decodes the transmitted data for the end user. Sometimes the antenna is housed inside the RFID tag itself.
Retail sector mostly uses UHF passive RFID system (865-867MHz in India, 865-868 Mhz in europe) as these tags are small in size and cost-effective for the lack of battery. Passive UHF RFID tags, when in range with a RFID reader, are activated by the signal coming from the reader and transmit the data through antenna.
The difference between EAS and RFID
Though EAS and RFID tags mostly look the same and are difficult to identify, these two have totally different application in retail or any other businesses. The fundamental difference is RFID being an AIDC tool, meaning it can identify objects using a unique ID and trace and track the same throughout the store or warehouse.
EAS system on the other hand is only good for preventing un-authorized movement of articles outside a store which is very crucial for businesses that aim to curb shoplifting, like retail.
The presence of a microchip that can store a serial code or unique ID makes RFID a versatile tool that can be used for security, access control, tracking, inventory control and identification etc. More importantly, RFID provides a greater degree of visibility to stocks, which reduces shrinkage and eliminates ‘out of stock’ scenarios for retail industry.
- Last updated on Mar 10, 2023