Should You Use Security Tags on Your Products?

Shoplifting isn’t a new problem – things have been stolen from stores for as long as there have been stores.  Often shop owners would just take the hit and that would be the end of it. Then developments in security tags offered a new option – tagging products and setting up detectors at store entrances to catch the thieves. So should you be adding security tags to your products?

Types of security tags

There are two main categories of security tags that you will see in use in stores around the UK.  The first is RF or RFID tags which use one of two different radio-frequency systems on a label applied to a product.  This label is ‘deactivated’ by the checkout staff when the item is bought but otherwise will sound an alarm if it passes through the detector at the door while still active.

The other is a hard tag which works in a similar way but is attached to the clam packaging or other type of plastic covering.  It can also be attached to things likebottle tops for wine and alcohol.  These hard tags are removed at thecheckout to stop them signalling the detector when the item leaves the store.

RF tags

 Most of the time, customers don’t realise that RF (radio frequency) and RFID (radio frequency identification)tags are in place.  They can be inside a product, on the back or sometimeseven on the actual packaging such as shrink wrap plastic, clamshell packagingor even blister packs.  These are clever types of anti-shoplifting devicesthat send a signal from the tag to the transmitter placed at the door to let itknow that the tag hasn’t been deactivated and the alarm then sounds.

When an item is paid for correctly, the checkout assistant deactivates the RF tag with a special tool and this allows you to walk past the transmitter without it sounding.  It doesn’t always work – we’ve all had an alarm sound because a tag hasn’t been deactivated properly!  But they are largely accurate and a good way to secure products.

RFID tags

 RFID tags are a little more advanced and can be used for more than just an anti-theft device.  That’s because each tag identifies the individual product – these tags are used for things like self-service checkouts or those machines that let you tag your products as you shop and not put them through the checkout.

RFID tags work over shorter distances than RF tags, usually around 10cm.  Some are passive, responding to radio waves from a scanner or transmitter.  Others are active and contain a tiny battery to send and receive signals.

Hard tags

Hard tags are a more visual deterrent than RF or RFID tags because they are bulky and prominent.  You can see them attached to anything from razor blade clam packaging to bottles of whiskey.

Unlike RF tags, they are removed from the product when it is sold with a special device at the checkout.  If the tag isn’t removed, the alarm will sound when the product passes the detector at the door.  Hard tags use a similar system to RF tags.

Benefits of using security tags

The most obvious benefit for a business to using security tags on their products is that it can help reduce theft.  Some businesses using hard tags have seen as much as a 90% decrease in theft when adding them to clam packaging.

The ease of use is another benefit.  Whichever type of tag you use, they are designed to be easy to add to the product and many packaging companies supply packaging ready made to add these tags.  They can be added at manufacturing point or by staff in the store and are easily deactivated.

Equipment is installed at the checkout to remove or deactivate the tags as well as at the entrances to the shop then the system is ready to go.

Buying in bulk, these tags can be an affordable security measure.  When added benefits such as stock control are added, you can get better analytics on what is happening in the store.  Plus there is a clear benefit in reducing the number of thefts which saves the business a lot of money in lost revenue.

Finally, there is the peace of mind for customers and staff in the use of these systems.  Staff can concentrate on helping customers rather than trying to watch out for thieves.  And genuine customers will be happy to see that steps have been taken to protect merchandise and make for a better experience for shoppers.

Getting the right packaging

One of the key elements in using security tags is ensuring that you have the right packaging on the products to incorporate the tags.  Clam packaging is one example where the product is trapped between moulded plastic sheets, allowing customers to see the items inside but protecting them.  These can have RF tags added to the packaging or hard tags attached to them as required.

Blister packs are another easy to secure packaging option.  These can be used for products such as ink cartridges as well as things like medication and tags can also be added to the outer packaging for these items.

A growing sight

 RFID tags, in particular, are a growing sight in different areas of life.  Uses for them include in libraries, in car windscreens for tolls and even in some contactless credit or debit cards.  So the sight of these tags is something we are more likely to see around life in many different ways.

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