An overstretched workforce

In an ideal world, a retailer with an EAS solution deployed within its stores would have every single item within their stores tagged with security labels. However, applying these labels is no easy feat.

The allocation of additional labor hours for the application of security tags in-store adds significant cost for a retailer, not to mention the impracticality of taking staff off the shopfloor. Therefore, when it comes to implementing an EAS solution for the first time, retailers have a lot of reasons to be hesitant

With most retailers running very lean in terms of available staffing and labour hours allocation, it can be challenging to see ways around implementing EAS into a busy store’s labour scheduling.


Limiting tagging

One option for retailers facing this dilemma is to limit the items in-store that are tagged. By focusing on a targeted and manageable smaller number of primary SKU’s, the application of a suitable tag can be managed during the initial set-up phase of the EAS program.

However, this approach is more of a compromise than a comprehensive solution. And once a positive ROI has been established on these tagged items, the retailer is likely to want to expand the range of products protected, putting the retailer back to square one.

Tagging products at source, before they reach the store, would seem like the ideal solution for many retailers.


Source tagging for high-theft items

Earlier in this series, we looked at high-theft items, what they are, why and how shoplifters target them. There is a very definitive list of items that shoplifters target, especially organized retail criminals who are stealing at scale. These are usually small, expensive (for their size), and with a high resale value.

One advantage to retailers of thieves continually targeting the same items, across all stores, is that retailers and manufacturers can take proactive action to protect these items. That’s why many high-theft items are also protected by source tagging. Manufacturers of these items know that their products are targeted, so see that they have no choice but to provide the retailers that carry their items as much extra protection as they can. After all, they need the retailers to continue to stock and sell the products.


Benefits of source tagging

Undertaking a source tagging program has many benefits to the end retailer. As already discussed, it removes the need for the in-store employees to tag products, a time-consuming process that takes these workers away from their primary duty, assisting customers on the shop floor. However, this is not the only advantage.

Applying security tags during the manufacturing process brings a high level of conformity to the application process. Tags can be placed in exactly the same place on every single item. Uniform label/tag placement maximizes tag performance and minimizes the impact on branding – if the appropriate location on the packaging is selected.

Source tagging also means that products are protected from source to store, rather than simply adding the protection in-store. When source tagging with RFID, this can enable product tracking across the entire supply chain; reducing lost items, streamlining processes, and enabling better on-shelf availability at the end of the chain.


The case for source tagging

A well-run and executed source tagging program can offer retailers a huge differentiator in achieving a positive ROI from any EAS implementation. It offers retailers the most comprehensive protection of their most vulnerable products and gives them the ability to tap into the work done by other businesses in the industry. Deploying EAS requires investment from a retailer, and source tagging can help them get the most out of that investment, in a shorter time too.


Next time…

We’re coming to the end of this 10-part series, but there’s still time to talk about label/tag deactivation which we’ll be doing in the next chapter. Once you’ve got the tags on to your products, you need a way to deactivate them once they’ve been legitimately bought. After all, the vast majority of a retailer’s customers are honest, and barely even notice when an item has an EAS tag. We’ll look at deactivation options, how a retailer turns off a tag when it is no longer needed, and why this is important for customer experience.