Opening a retail store? Here’s what to consider on the security front

Opening up a retail store?

The stock is on order, the premises outfitted and the signwriter booked, meaning the countdown is on until opening day at your new retail establishment. But just as premises, point of sale and shopfittings are important, so too is the technology that protects your inventory from theft and helps guarantee a return on your investment.

Here is our guide of six things you need to consider for your loss prevention system when setting up a shopfront …

What security?

Shop security and loss prevention is often a multi-pronged approach, with a number of factors to consider.

Statistics indicate retail shrink is a $2.7 billion problem in Australia annually, with the Global Retail Theft Barometer noting it’s not just five finger patron discounts contributing to the problem. Shoplifting accounts for 39% of loss, staff theft for 25%, with employee error or fraud contributing further to the problem.

So how do you plan to protect your premises against all these issues?

Initial factors to consider include:

  • Do you need a burglar alarm to protect against break-in?
  • Will you use CCTV to monitor customers and staff?
  • Will you employ an electronic article surveillance system (EAS) to protect stock?
  • Do you have other premises already using EAS technology and wish to employ the same style system for cost and convenience purposes?
  • Are you looking to RFID now or in the future to track inventory status, theft and customer habits?
  • Will you need data analytics such as traffic counting?
  • Will you incorporate traffic counting and data analytics into your mobile Point of Sale?


The physical layout and location of your premises will also impact the type and level of security you will need to have in place. For example, a shopfront with street entry is a prime candidate for a burglar alarm to protect the premises outside of store hours.

The width of your entryway will also affect the type of electronic article surveillance system that you are able to install, and the look of that installation.

There are two widely used EAS systems; Radio Frequency (RF) and Acousto Magnetic (AM), each featuring unique attributes in the stock protection game.

RF benefits at a glance:

  • Affordability: Price can range from very low cost for more basic RF systems to high cost for advanced RF systems.
  • Potential for upgrade path to RFID with some RF antenna systems
  • Available from many manufacturers

RF disadvantages:

  • Limited range of detection systems traditionally limited to pedestals
  • More susceptible to electronic and metallic interference

AM benefits at a glance:

  • Larger detection area so Antennas can be positioned further apart
  • Less susceptible to electronic interference
  • Systems can be concealed in door structures or under flooring

AM disadvantages:

  • Often cost is higher than RF
  • Antennas not easily upgradable to RFID

 Stock type

The type of stock that lines your shelves will determine what type of EAS tags or labels you require, and further protection systems that may need to be utilised.

Clothing lends itself to hard tags, but as these use small pins, they’re not suitable for items made of leather. In this case wire lanyards and tags are ideal, and are also the preferred option for handbags and shoes.

Electronics are one of the most commonly stolen items on any shop floor due to their high resale value, so  retailers may wish to consider lockable cabinets and/or secure stands, the latter allowing for consumer experience of the product, while protecting it against theft.

In the instance of small items like groceries or hardware, adhesive EAS labels are the best option due to their affordability and disposability, but you will need to factor in whether flat paper thin labels are preferred or small two dimensional labels.

Meanwhile products with a high foil content like pharmaceuticals will require the EAS system to be AM-based to mitigate interference and false alarms.

Tag type

For retailers like clothing stores, there are then a host of options in the EAS hard tag arena to consider. You can learn more about clothing tags here, but in brief these include:

What shape?

Hard tags come in a variety of shapes, with options including pencil shaped (as in long), square, or clamshell (as in round).

Traditionally, pencil or square tags require a standard small pin not much bigger than a thumbtack, which passes through the clothing item.

Clam shell tags usually feature a tag body and pin head are the same size, and are considered harder to illegally remove.

What mechanism?

There are two standard types of mechanisms involved in affixing and removing clothing tags – magnetic and mechanical.

The magnetic option comes in a range of strengths, from standard through to SuperLock, then HyperLock and Multi-polar. The minimum strength recommended in magnetic tags is SuperLock with anything above that offering increased almost impenetrable security.

Meanwhile, mechanical tags are not as readily used as the magnetic range due to the perceived high cost of ownership, ongoing maintenance and the ease of which small low cost defeat mechanisms can be sourced on the internet. However a new generation of highly secure mechanical lock tags has been launched in recent years.

The detacher

Hard tags require detaching, so store owners should consider the placement and installation of their tag detacher. Would you like it to be built into the bench, portable, or do you require more than one?


Hard tags are also available with a series of additions such as ink dye, which releases into the clothing item when a tag is illicitly removed.

They can also be clear, allowing the consumer a greater view of the product, and incorporate RFID, that allows retailers to pinpoint the location of individual products. Meanwhile the tag pin head determines how easy the tag may be to remove illegally, and also whether it will affect any soft or delicate items.

What security add ons?

In addition to security and item protection, loss prevention strategies can offer further benefits such as inventory control, and valuable consumer data. These also need to be considered as you roll out your store security strategy.

If you are considering RFID as an EAS option, do you also wish to use it for inventory control and item tracking?

What about people counting, and heat mapping? These can be incorporated into an electronic article surveillance system, or installed independently and can be interlocked with a mobile Point of Sale.

Even if you do not wish to utilise these services immediately, if you intend to in the future then the decisions you make at the outset may affect the ease of adoption later, in addition to the cost.

Further strategies

It’s important to note retailers aren’t restricted to technology when it comes to loss prevention, with staff training and the physical layout of the store also critical to how stock can be protected and theft reduced.

Any new retailer should be training their staff on what to look for in terms of shoplifting, and how to engage customers to reduce a potential threat.

Meanwhile physical strategies like the placement of mirrors, positioning high value goods near registers and allowing a line of sight to all areas of the store are all imperative to loss prevention.

The final word

The best store security and loss prevention involves a series of strategies all aimed at making it harder for a crime to occur. This means retailers should be considering employing a number of options to protect their shopfront, factoring in:

  • Overall shop security
  • Surveillance of staff and clientele
  • Visual deterrents
  • Individual item protection
  • Physical store layout
  • Staff training

Together these act to provide the best possible prevention measures against retail loss, protecting not only your new retail investment, but your valued staff and clientele as well.

With almost two decades expertise in retail security and loss prevention, Vitag is available to assist store owners in creating strategies to protect their new premises. You can learn more about our products here, or contact us for further advice.