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Why Retail brands are replacing EAS security Tags with RFID?

  • Abhishek Shukla
  • Nov 27, 2023
  • RFID
Why Retail brands are replacing EAS security Tags with RFID?

In the dynamic world of retail, security measures play a vital role in safeguarding merchandise from theft and ensuring an optimal shopping experience for customers. EAS (electronic article surveillance) security technology has been the cornerstone of retail store security for years. You walk into a store, and the first thing you’ll notice is EAS gates installed at entry and exit points. You walk further and pick up apparel and you’ll find that it is tagged with an EAS security tag/label. For years, EAS security tags have provided retailers much help against shoplifters picking up valuable items, small in size but high in value, and walking out with them without paying. 

As it happens, shoplifting is a big issue in the retail and apparel business and various valuable items are shoplifted from distinct retail stores such as Walmart, H&M, Macy’s, Target, Zara, etc., on a daily basis. A Forbes report found that retail theft has become a 100B USD problem in the USA now and retailers spend a huge chunk of their budget on retail store security. 

But now, Retailers are gradually upgrading their security operations and switching from EAS to RFID technology, not just to prevent shoplifting, and retail shrinkage, but to enhance their retail inventory as well. 

Retailers Switching to RFID from EAS

Over the years, retail security has undergone significant transformations, with Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags being the go-to solution for preventing theft in stores. 

However, with advancements in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, retailers have begun to embrace a more advanced and efficient approach to inventory management and security. 

RFID is an advanced AIDC technology that is known to provide accurate item identification and data capture through the use of RFID tags, RFID readers, antennas, and software system that is designed to manage store operations, integrated with the existing retail CRM and ERP systems. 

Let’s explore the evolution of retail security, focusing on the transition from EAS tags to RFID technology:

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) Tags

EAS tags are magnetic (EM, AM tags) or radio frequency-based devices (RF EAS tags) attached to retail merchandise to deter theft.

1. These tags consist of a transmitter and a receiver, creating a surveillance zone at store exits.

2. EAS systems rely on the principle of electromagnetic induction or radio frequency communication to detect unauthorized removal of tagged items.

3. Various examples of EAS tags include magnetic strips (EM), acoustic-magnetic tags (AM), and radio frequency identification (RF) tags.

Though EAS tags are very popular and provide great advantages in a retail business, there are certain limitations in EAS use as follows, prompting retailers to switch to RFID technology

Limitations of EAS Security Tags

EAS tags have limitations in terms of range, detection accuracy, and data collection capabilities.

1. Their reliance on proximity-based detection limits their effectiveness in monitoring inventory at all stages of the supply chain.

2. EAS systems require manual scanning of items, leading to potential human error and slower inventory management processes.

3. The lack of real-time data integration hampers decision-making, and inventory optimization efforts.

4. EAS tags are easy to tamper with and shoplifters have grown experienced on how to bypass EAS security, often with small EAS detachers, lined shopping bags, etc. 

Choosing RFID Technology for Retail Security and Inventory Management

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology offers a more sophisticated and comprehensive solution to retail security and inventory management. It leverages the use of cost-effective UHF RFID labels and RFID handheld and Fixed readers and antennas. 

1. RFID tags consist of silicon microchips and antennas and these RFID tags/labels can be attached to individual products, enabling unique identification and tracking.

2. These tags communicate with RFID readers using radio waves, allowing for non-line-of-sight scanning and automatic data collection.

3. RFID systems provide accurate, real-time inventory visibility, enabling retailers to reduce stockouts, improve replenishment, and enhance customer service as well. 

Benefits of RFID Technology over EAS

Major Fashion Retail brand Zara decided to replace large EAS tags with RFID labels from its stores and as per a Bank of America report, the RFID-based security system will reduce shoplifting by 60% across Zara Stores. Choosing RFID technology for item-level tagging is a good move due to the following RFID benefits in retail:

Improved Inventory Management

RFID enables automatic, real-time tracking of inventory, reducing stock discrepancies and improving supply chain efficiency. Item tagging each item with RFID labels provides a unique ID to each item and allows for automatic identification and tracking throughout the warehouse and store.

Enhanced Security

RFID tags provide a higher level of security by enabling item-level tracking and reducing the risk of theft and shrinkage. Besides sounding the alarm, as EAS technology does, in case of theft, RFID can provide data on which item hasn’t been paid for by the customer; allowing staff to timely intervene and convert a theft/loss into a sale. 

Streamlined Operations

RFID technology automates various processes, such as inventory counting, replenishment, and checkout, leading to increased productivity and cost savings.

Data Analytics

RFID systems generate vast amounts of data, which can be analyzed to gain insights into consumer behavior, demand patterns, and operational efficiency.

To summarize, the evolution of retail security from EAS tags to RFID technology has revolutionized the way retailers manage their inventory and protect their merchandise. While EAS tags have served as a reliable deterrent against theft, the limitations of proximity-based detection and manual processes have paved the way for RFID technology. 

RFID tagging of each item, pallets, etc. offers retailers a more accurate, efficient, and real-time approach to inventory management and security, providing valuable insights for decision-making and enhancing the overall customer experience. 

As the retail industry is evolving and embracing innovative technologies like RFID, Retail has become the biggest RFID driver with USD 11336.52 million market size in 2022, which is projected to reach 18958.47 million USD by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8.95% during the forecast period.

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  • Created on Nov 27, 2023
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