Magazine Article | August 22, 2006

Tag It With EAS

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Why EAS (electronic article surveillance) tags are still your best bet for asset protection.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, September 2006

There’s something dated-looking about those bulky, white or cream-colored plastic EAS tags. You know, the ones store associates in most specialty apparel stores have to manually remove at the POS. Not particularly high-tech, the big tags are rugged and ugly and have been in service for years. They make smaller cell phones these days.

They’re not pretty, but they work. They’re working before you even hear the shrill cry of the alarm at the corral or pedestal when the shoplifter passes through it. You see, because of their visibility, because of their very (ugly) presence, they deter more theft than they catch.

This month’s issue of Integrated Solutions For Retailers includes our annual Loss Prevention/Security Supplement, which has been populated with research conducted by the Loss Prevention Research Council and the University of Florida’s Loss Prevention Research Team. Read Hayes, Ph.D., CPP (certified protection professional), is author of the paper entitled Senior Loss Prevention Management Trends and Issues, a synopsis of which is published in the supplement. In his paper, Dr. Hayes contends that both CCTV (closed-circuit television) and EAS are designed to deter theft activity by increasing the probability of detection and sanction for would-be thieves. But the would-be thief’s perception of the probability of detection is based entirely on his or her awareness of the deterrent. In other words, the more obvious the CCTV or EAS system, the more likely it is to deter theft. In my estimation, those big ugly EAS tags go a long way to that end.

EAS At The Top Of Its Game
Interestingly, the paper states that EAS consistently ranks as one of – if not the – best form of loss prevention according to loss prevention executives. The technology tops the options in terms of reliability, performance, service availability, operating cost, initial purchase price, ease of use, and salesperson relationship. EAS edged out CCTV in each of these categories.

However, the paper reveals that retailers are more concerned about the physical appearance and aesthetics of EAS systems than that of CCTV.  The study didn’t measure whether loss prevention executives believe CCTV domes and EAS tags, deactivators, and pedestals should be more visible to boost deterrence, or whether the systems should just look better. Many high-end, specialty apparel merchandise managers might clamour for a sleeker, sexier EAS tag for aesthetic reasons, but bottom-line reasons are why they shouldn’t ignore the theft-deterring power of the old industry workhorse.