Different Types of Security Tags and Labels
According to the National Retail Federation, shoplifting alone last year cost US retailers over $100 billion. There are many different ways to combat this, but security tags and labels remain one of the most effective strategies for their reasonable price. It can be difficult to know not only which security tags and labels to purchase, but also which products they best protect! This blog post serves to describe the different styles, sizes, and pairings so that you can know the best way to protect your store.
EAS labels sound an alarm if they come too close to the antenna at the door. They have a smaller detection range when compared to EAS security tags and should be used to protect high volume, low value items or on products that cannot accommodate a hard tag. They usually come in rolls ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 labels per order and can be applied to products in bulk.
Security labels have the capability to go undetected and unnoticed by shoppers as they can be applied more discreetly than hard tags. Security labels are also single-use and do not have to be removed at check-out, they simply have their circuit broken by a label deactivator.
Security tags are more expensive than security labels, but can be reused indefinitely until they are damaged. Security tags can be broadly broken down into three main categories: Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags, visual deterrent tags, and benefit denial tags. All of which have their own unique attributes that make them a valuable member to your loss prevention team.
The EAS system sees tags in communication with an antenna housed near the entrance to a store. We manufacture a sleek and modern antenna called “The Clarity” that goes well with every store’s aesthetic and loss prevention strategy. When the tagged item comes into proximity of this antenna, an alarm sounds, alerting staff to a potential threat.
Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) works by applying an activated tag or label on merchandise. These devices disrupt the magnetic radio field emitted by the antenna installed at the front of the store if they have not been removed or deactivated, causing it to alarm. These labels and tags are quick and easy for the cashier to remove at checkout.
What system should my store use: AM or RF?
There are two main EAS systems, Radio Frequency (RF) and Acousto-Magnetic (AM). The difference between these two systems is the frequency at which the tags and antenna operate.
Radio Frequency (RF) systems work by creating a narrow, low-frequency electro-magnetic radio field. When this field is disrupted by a tag or label, it causes that system to alarm. RF systems most popularly use 8.2MHz, but other frequencies can be 1.81MHz, 1.95MHz, 2.0MHz, 3.25MHz, and 4.7MHz. As RF Systems are the least expensive, they are the most popularly used by retailers. They are most commonly used in apparel, shoe, sporting goods, and houseware stores. RF labels are thinner and more like a classic “sticker” material.
Acousto-Magnetic (AM) Systems work similarly to RF Systems, but work at the 58KHz frequency. AM Systems have a better detection range and are the best choice in environments with a lot of radio noise from other sources. The stores that most frequently use AM Systems are consumer electronic, home improvement, grocery, and pharmaceuticals. AM labels are larger and a bit bulkier. They have a “puffy” appearance.
Be sure to check with management before selecting which frequency you choose. Some franchise or chain stores prefer to stick with one specific frequency across all stores!
Clothing Security Tags:
Clothing tags comprise three key elements; the tag (which houses the receiver in the case of EAS), the pin (which goes through the garment) and the locking mechanism (which secures the pin in place).
There are two commonly used types of locking mechanisms available; magnetic and mechanical, with magnetic tags available in a series of strengths ranging from standard to SuperLock, HyperLock and Multi-Polar.
The stronger the magnetic lock, the harder the tag is to illegally remove, which is why a minimum strength of SuperLock is recommended. To remove these tags, use a Universal Super Designer Detacher.
Some of the most common shapes for fashion clothing tags include alligator tags, which have a hinge, pencil tags, which are long and thin, rectangular tags, and round or shell tags. In terms of security, shell-shaped tags are considered to be the hardest to pry open and remove since there is no gap to maneuver apart.
In addition to the strength of the locking mechanism and shape of the tag, a key factor to consider when selecting clothing tags is the size of the pin-head. The larger the pinhead the less likely it is to be illegally removed by pulling it through the garment. To avoid damaging your items, lanyards can be used to attach security tags through button holes as well as non-grooved pins that are specially manufactured for lingerie, swimwear, and other delicate fabrics.
Fashion Accessory Tags:
Whether you sell shoes, handbags, luggage, or jewelry, there are a range of options when it comes to securing accessories using security tags.
The most popular options are tags with lanyard attachments. A popular pick is the screamer tag, these tags are self-alarming and can be secured easily around any loop on a product. Screamer tags can cause the antenna at the door to alarm, but also alarm themselves if their wire is tampered with or broken.
One of the most frequently targeted items for theft is alcohol and bottles of liquor. Spirits are often easy to conceal and can be resold at a high value.
Bottle tags specifically target this type of theft, providing a visual deterrent in addition to EAS security. There are several kinds of bottle tags to choose from. Some of these include slimline tags, cable tags, and bottle locks.
For retailers of eyeglasses and sunglasses, merchandise security is a must. Classed as a fashion accessory, sunglasses are a very commonly targeted item by shoplifters.
Optical tags are specifically designed to sit on the frame of eyewear in a way that allows customers to be able to still try items on.
Tags for Boxed Items:
Spider Tags, also called Spider Wraps, are the perfect solution for high-ticket boxed items. Spider Tags are “self-alarming” which means they are suited with a small speaker to alarm when tampered with and signal for the gate at the door to alarm with its EAS capabilities.
Spider tags can be placed on the center of an item with its straps wrapped around the product. Twisting the tag and cranking it closed secures it in place.
Benefit Denial Tags:
Benefit denial tags erase any benefit to shoplifting an item by destroying it when they are pried off. The most common form is ink dye tags which release indelible ink when the tag is tampered with, effectively rendering the stolen item useless for resale or personal use. These are most commonly applied to fabric items such as clothing, linens, or blankets!
Some ink tags come with EAS technology enabled. For ink tags that are without EAS technology, you can arm them with alarming capabilities by using an EAS tag in place of a pin or clutch. This simple act doubles the security tags’ loss prevention skills.
Visual Deterrent Tags:
Visual tags give the appearance that an EAS system is in place but do not actually have a receiver that communicates with an antenna. The concept is similar to having decoy security cameras or reversely, having signs that warn shoplifters of security cameras or prosecution.
This means they offer a visual deterrent for shoplifters rather than sounding an alarm and alerting staff when an item is being stolen. These security tags are best suited for stores that don’t have a sophisticated EAS system (yet) or for a store with a lot of existing tags. It may be difficult for a shoplifter to discern which tag will signal the alarm and which tag is simply a decoy.
Most security tags act as a visual deterrent when they are obviously placed on items.
Pins, Clutches, and Lanyards - Oh my!
Some security tags require a pin or a clutch. Some of these include pencil tags or red-eye ink tags. The pin, clutch, and lanyard locks into the tag, securing it. To remove the pin, clutch or lanyard, you should always place the tag on a detacher with the pin itself (the pointy end) facing downwards. You should easily slide the pin out and your item is freed.