“Security, don’t slow us down”

If there is one key area in-store that the addition of any electronic article surveillance deployment cannot impact negatively is the point of sale (POS) operation. This is the critical customer touchpoint in-store and in grocery needs to be fast, effective and error-free.

The addition of EAS should be as seamless and frictionless as possible. Adding time to deactivate security labels is not acceptable to most retailers, a recent study of Checkpoint’s largest retail customers told us that retailers are more likely to prioritize customer experience and speed at the checkout over security[1].


How does RF detection work?

With radio frequency (RF) technology the deactivation of the label itself is linked to the barcode scanning action meaning that tags can be deactivated as they are scanned. This integration is important because it ensures a seamless handing of the RF tag during the scanning process. Deactivation is quick and straightforward, and there is no added complexity or time to the checkout.

RF deactivation is not dependent on touch technology (as in the case of other technologies) and the tag is deactivated in the same single action of scanning the barcode, either by the cashier checkout operator or by the customer themselves at a self-checkout (SCO) unit.

The rationale of integrating the deactivation unit into the checkout like this is that any deactivation/alarm actions and customer interactions are within the cashier’s role. The whole process can be handled effectively and in a much more customer-friendly/focused way than any discussion that may be required at a store exit-based solution.

This approach does have some real advantages, in that it removes the need for the manning of the exit door by staff or by contract guarding, and it is less confrontational for the customer, as any discussions take place during the purchasing/payment phase of the shopping visit.

Whilst this inline installation can increase the capital cost of the hardware needed for the store, as each checkout requires an EAS antenna plus a deactivator, the installation required is now much more straightforward with the implementation of secure wireless communications between the hardware, eliminating costly and awkward cabling installations and enabling future simple checkout remodelling without the needs for any remedial cabling or power-related work.

The provision of deactivation at SCO units allows the EAS system to be incorporated in any self-service application and can be further enhanced with the choice to deactivate the tagged products only on payment completion. A recent ECR report into SCO operations highlighted that there are numerous reported incidents of “walkways” in SCO deployments, where the products are scanned but the payment process is not completed and the goods are taken from the store. Using a bulk deactivation process, rather than killing the tag when the individual product is scanned at the SCO, an instruction to kill the tags in bulk is received from the SCO only on the completion of the payment. This ensures that anyway walkway is with live tags that will sound the exit alarm. Most retailers install EAS within a controlled “Corral” type design around the SCO operation.


Next time…

The next chapter marks the end of our series on EAS in Grocery, but will answer probably the most important question- "How do I get started implementing an EAS system in my store?!" Make sure you check out the final chapter.



[1] Checkpoint Systems, Change at the Checkout customer research – 27 of Europe’s largest retailers, Summer 2021