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RFID & Loss Prevention Solutions

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The Importance of Training Your Teams in EAS Alarms

Nicole Smith, Customer Relationship Manager ANZ


A major reason why staff don’t attend to EAS alarms is because they don’t know why the system is alarming, so they don’t know what to say to the customer. As Francis Bacon famously said, “Knowledge is Power”.

Therefore, when an alarm event occurs, staff become nervous and apprehensive. There are no tricks to getting this right, but practice and role plays will make it easier for your teams to deter a potential theft event. Remember, a thief does not want to be noticed or recognised, so the more interaction your teams have with customers, the less chance they will thieve from your store. There is nothing wrong with offering assistance to a customer, whether this is around the store or at the point of sale.

We like to call it “Killing with Kindness”. Here is a quick way to identify a potential theft event in your store. First and foremost, invite the customer back into the store. You will find that majority of people will come back. Let them know you want to fix the problem so it doesn’t continue to happen. If a customer is rude, ignores you, walks or runs off, then let them go, but make a note of the time, what the customer looks like and what they are wearing and report it into your Store Manager immediately.

What Usually Sets Off An Alarm?

1) You haven’t deactivated an RF Label or removed a Hard Tag

This is quite common and easy to identify. Deactivation is either inbuilt in the scanner or there is a loop under the counter. The field of deactivation is approximately 12-15cm.

If you don’t put the product into the field, you will miss deactivating the RF Label. If a customer has multiple bags of shopping, one at a time, place a bag up against the face of Antenna. The Antenna will respond with an alarm. Identify the tagged product (remember to look for high risk products), check it against a receipt and deactivate the label or remove the hard tag. Customers won’t want to walk around a shopping centre setting off EAS Antennas.

2) A customer has purchased something from another store

If a customer has bought a product from another Retailer and they haven’t deactivated the RF Label or removed a hard tag, it will set your EAS system off. Try and attend to the alarm and solve the problem. If a person has stolen from another Retailer, guess what…. they will be attempting to steal from you too!!

You can deactivate RF labels from other stores, just be confident that it hasn’t been stolen from another Retailer. By responding to an alarm when someone enters the store, your approach will be a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of thieving in your store.

3) A customer has a source tagged item on them

Source Tagging is where the RF label has been applied on the product at the point of manufacture and may be hidden so you can’t see it. It is quite common for handbags and wallets to be source tagged. If a customer has no shopping bags, ask them if setting off alarms is a regular occurrence. If they say yes, with their permission, place the handbag or wallet into the field of deactivation and kill the label. No credit cards will be harmed in this process —the system you have is Radio Frequency.

4) A customer has a Library Book or Rental DVD on them

These items may interfere with your EAS system. They work on the same RF technology, but on a different frequency that is close to Retail. You can’t deactivate these products, but at least you know why your EAS system is alarming.

5) A customer has an Access Control card

It is unusual for this to set off your EAS System, but it can happen. Once again, you can’t deactivate the access control card, but at least you know a theft event hasn’t happened in your store.

If it is not one of the above 5 reasons, then POTENTIALLY you have a theft event happening in your store. Don’t panic. Try and keep the customer in the store just a little bit longer. Give people the OPPORTUNITY to do the right thing and pay or give back a product.

Remember that most retailers have CCTV in their store, so even if you don’t retrieve a stolen product, you can check footage to ensure the theft event has occurred and contact your local police station.

Ask the customer, “Do you have a mobile phone or a set of car keys on you? Maybe that is setting off our system”. Neither of these items will activate an alarm, but what you will have is someone standing in front of you, looking through their pockets or handbag/back pack and this is sometimes when the magic happens. By giving the customer the opportunity to do the right thing, they may retrieve a concealed product and say, “I forgot that I put this here”. Well done, you have recovered an item with good old customer service. All you need to say is, “Would you like to buy that item?”. If they say yes then you have made a sale and we all love a sale; if they say no, then the product is put back on the shelf for someone else to purchase.

A few other reminders:

1) Don’t EVER run after someone. You never know what a person is carrying on themselves.

Nor do you want them to hang around until you have finished work. Your health and safety is paramount. Try and remember what the person looks like, what they are wearing, time of day and report it in immediately

2) Remember that if the adrenalin kicks in and you do chase after someone, then the moment you cross the lease line of your store, you are not covered by Workers’ Compensation if anything happens.

3) There are some serious legal implications if either yourself or the person you are chasing gets injured so just don’t do it. No retailer allows staff to chase thieves. This is not part of your company’s policies and procedures. Above all else, if you team knows why an EAS Antenna has alarmed and can resolve the problem, then you will ensure your customer has a sensational shopping experience at your store. Talk to your team, empower them to respond confidently to an EAS Alarm and most importantly interact with your customers. This is the biggest deterrent of theft in you stores.

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Juliet Woodward
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Checkpoint Systems
+613 9262 8084

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About Checkpoint Systems

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, addresses two critical issues for its customers: Improving Profitability and Improving Consumer experience. With consumer demands accelerating at an extraordinary rate driven by technology, Checkpoint recognizes the challenges faced by its customers in the rapidly evolving retail market. We deliver intelligent solutions – bringing clarity and efficiency into the retail environment anytime, anywhere. Through a unique offering of software, hardware, labels, tags and connected cloud based solutions, Checkpoint optimizes operational efficiencies through analysis of real time data captured throughout the Supply Chain and in store then translating this to clear concise actions and tasks.

We provide end-to-end solutions enabling retailers to achieve accurate real-time inventory, accelerate the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft, thus improving merchandise availability and the shopper’s experience. Checkpoint’s solutions are built upon 48 years of radio frequency technology expertise, innovative high-theft and loss-prevention solutions, market-leading RFID hardware, RFID software, and comprehensive labeling capabilities, to brand, secure and track merchandise from source to shelf. Checkpoint’s customers benefit from increased sales and profits by implementing merchandise availability solutions, to ensure the right merchandise is available at the right place and time when consumers are ready to buy. Checkpoint operates in every major geographic market and employs 4,500 people worldwide.