A guide to selecting security labels

A guide to selecting security labels

When it comes to securing a retail outlet against theft, security labels are considered the ideal way of protecting low value, high volume stock.

Used by large and small retailers worldwide, they offer affordable product-based security that is easy to apply and quick to deactivate at the Point of Sale. This makes security labels specifically suited to high-volume products like non-perishable groceries, books, DVDs and even cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

But like all areas of EAS there are choices to be made when it comes to which label is best suited to what product. So, here’s a quick guide to selecting security labels.

Why choose labels?

Security labels are one of the many options available when it comes to protecting stock at a product-based level using Electronic Article Surveillance.

Regarded as one of the most effective and popular loss prevention strategies available, EAS sees tags and labels affixed to items which are monitored by an in-store antenna at the entryway to the store. When these labels or tags come into close proximity of that antenna, an alarm sounds alerting staff to a potential theft.

While visible plastic tags are the tool of choice for high-value items like clothing, when it comes to small items like groceries or hardware, adhesive security labels are the best option due to their affordability, disposability and simple deactivation at the point of sale.

How security labels work

Security labels house a small receiver within an adhesive sticker that can easily be affixed to products.

This receiver remains in constant communication with an EAS antenna, and when that label comes too close, an alarm sounds, alerting staff that an item is passing through the entryway.

Labels are deactivated using a deactivator that breaks the circuit in the receiver, so they no longer communicate with the antenna. They can then pass an antenna without sounding an alarm.

So, what do you need to consider?

Which frequency – RF or AM?

Like security tags, security labels are available in either the RF or AM frequencies to suit whichever EAS system you have in store.

Each technology offers slightly different features and specific benefits for particular products.

RF Labels

RF labels are well-suited to retailers with high volumes of packaged products which require a flat paper label that can even be printed on.

Supermarkets, discount stores, and video stores often favour RF systems, but caution should be applied when using for RF labels with metallic or foil products or packaging due to tag detuning and reduced detection.

RF labels are commonly found in:

  • Grocery stores
  • Video stores
  • Book stores
  • Discount stores

AM labels

AM labels offer a slightly raised profile, but the technology provides major benefits when it comes to protecting metallic goods.

AM labels are well-suited to the protection of merchandise with a high metal/foil content such as consumer electronics, cosmetics, hardware and pharmaceuticals.

AM labels are commonly found in:

  • Drug stores
  • Cosmetic stores
  • Electronics retailers
  • Hardware outlets

Label size and colour

A guide to selecting security labels

Security labels are available in a wide range of colours, sizes and shapes, including round, square and rectangular with semi-transparent options also available to ensure they do not obscure vital information on the packaging.

Generally, RF labels have a slightly larger footprint than AM labels, starting from 31mm x 31mm, but offer a lower, flat profile. AM labels have a slightly raised profile but a smaller footprint than RF labels, measuring from 45mm x 11mm.

Security labels are designed to be discreet yet feature strong adhesives to ensure they cannot be easily removed by shoplifters.

Alternatively, non-adhesive labels can be inserted into the packaging of a product.


In a bid to offer greater efficiency at the Point of Sale, security labels are also available with the barcode pre-printed, so product information and security is catered to easily in a single label.


Plain RF labels can also be printed on, allowing information or barcodes to be added. This makes them an ideal option for source tagging at the point of manufacture.


Unlike security tags which are detached and removed at the Point of Sale, security labels are deactivated.

This involves using technology to break the transmitter circuit within the sticker. As a result, labels cannot be reused, but the method does allow for quick disarming at the Point of Sale.

Deactivators can be built into the Point of Sale scanner or incorporated beneath the countertop to ensure scanning and deactivation occurs in one swift maneuver.


The ideal place for a security label is near a product barcode. This allows the product to be scanned and the label deactivated at the same time.

Meanwhile, positioning the security label near the barcode also ensures essential product packaging information is not obscured.

You can learn more about label positioning here.