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Many of us have purchased products that have a label or tag attached to them. Often they require removal or deactivation before we’re able to walk out of the store with them. This is an EAS system at work in a retail environment. The security tags are a reminder for would-be thieves that items within the store are tagged and alarms – either visual or audible (sometimes both) will be triggered should they walk from the store without being paid for. 

There are many different types of tags, labels and gates a retail outlet can utilise to reduce shoplifting and theft, but before we go into the specifics of different labels and types, let’s take a general look at what EAS is and how it works. 

How EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) Works

EAS systems use a range of technology to detect articles or products that have EAS labels, stickers or tags attached to them when they travel through gates or sensors at the front of the store. This enables staff and store owners to know if a product is leaving their store through an unauthorised entrance or exit (like the front entrance as opposed to the registers). 

There are millions of EAS systems installed worldwide and it’s the standard method to reduce shoplifting and staff fraud within the retail sector. It’s worth noting that in Australia (2017-2018 financial year) theft cost retailers $3.37 billion dollars so reducing theft is an appropriate measure if you wish to improve the bottom line in the highly competitive retail market. 

In Australia, there are two main types of EAS systems used in our retail sector. These are outlined below. 

AM EAS Systems

AM systems use acousto magnetic signals usually in the 58KHz range and will usually send out pulses of acousto magnetic signals at around 50 times per second (similar to how bats or dolphins locate prey by sending out echolocation signals). The labels or tags of an AM system will pick up these pulses or signals and be activated when in the detection zone (hence why many of these labels are called ‘active labels’). If the tags meet certain criteria (i.e they haven’t been deactivated) an alarm will sound. Usually, an AM based system will give you a wider detection area (up to 2.4 metres).

RF (also called RFID) EAS Systems

Radio Frequency (RF) Systems are very popular throughout major retailers in Australia are more likely to be used by major retailers and supermarkets. The labels themselves can be very thin and easily incorporated into stickers or even into packaging via source tagging. RF labels have a circuit and a small antenna that responds to the (typically) 8.2 MHz range. When an RF label or sticker meets the criteria set by the alarm system it will trigger the alarm system which then provides either audible or visual (sometimes both) alarms within the store. 

What’s the difference between RF and AM EAS Systems?

There are a few key differences when looking at the different systems and the types of labels you require will be determined by the types of security systems you have set up in your store. For example, RF labels won’t work with an AM system and visa-versa. 

One of the major differences between the two systems is that an RF or RFID system will enable store owners to integrate an ID or Unique Identifying Number onto the tag which enables individual tagging of items. If a store using an RFID EAS system has a product stolen, they will be able to determine exactly which item(s) have been taken from the store. 

What're the best EAS labels or EAS system for my business?

This really depends on the types of products you stock (retail products, machinery, clothing, alcohol, etc) and where your products are located and/or stored (cold storage, hot warehouses, long shelf lives, etc) and if your products are metal (there are some implications with labels being attached to metal). The appropriate system is always the one that’s going to reduce theft and shrinkage the most without causing additional issues like false alarms or extra work for staff. 

Talk with Easitag today on 1800 077 375 to find out how we can help you.

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