Retail Loss Prevention terms explained

EAS Blog Post

Every industry comes complete with its own jargon and unique terms. In the field of loss prevention, it’s no different. From EAS to RFID, here are some of the most common terms encountered and what they really mean.


For starters

Loss prevention – Quite simply, loss prevention is any initiative devised to minimise the loss of stock within a retail environment. It spans everything from the methods used to prevent shoplifting right through to techniques used to count that stock.

Retail shrink – Retail shrink or shrinkage is the loss of stock. It can be attributed to a host of factors including shoplifting, employee theft, employee fraud, administrative error, vendor fraud, or damage to stock in transit. Basically, it encompasses the loss of products either in-store or somewhere in the supply chain that results in fewer products being available for sale.


Electronic article surveillance

EAS – In loss prevention, EAS is one of the most common terms encountered. It stands for Electronic Article Surveillance and describes how tags and labels are affixed to products and then monitored electronically by an in-store antenna system. EAS has been around since the 1960s.

The premise behind it is simple; when a product exists the doors of a shop without the tag being removed or the label being deactivated, an alarm sounds and alerts staff on the floor.

Antenna – In EAS the antenna is the component that “talks to” the tags and labels. Basically, an antenna sends out an electronic signal at regular intervals and the tag or label answers back. Antennas can be positioned in various places – overhead, in the door fame, in pedestals, under the floor and even in change rooms.

Pedestal – Positioned in the entryway to a shopfront, pedestals contain the antenna that monitors tags and labels. Depending on the width of the doorway and the type of EAS system being used, there may be one pedestal, or two and sometimes more used to monitor tagged and labelled stock.

Hard tags – Hard tags or Security Tags are exactly as they sound, they are plastic tags that are affixed to clothing and other products. Within each tag is a transmitter that sends out a signal which is detected by an antenna in the store. Should communication between the tag and antenna be lost, an alarm sounds.

Hard tags come in a variety of shapes, such as pencil, square and clamshell. They also come in different strengths, and include a series of components: the tag, a pin which passes through the product into the tag, and a locking mechanism (either mechanical or magnetic).

Cable tag – A cable tag is a hard tag that attaches to a product via a lanyard or cable. Suited to merchandise like jackets, shoes and handbags, the cable is made from materials that cannot be easily cut. Cable tags such as the IR Cable Locks offer added security as they cannot be defeated by magnet, it will only unlock with an InVue IR Key.

Alarming tag – Alarming tags are often an upgraded cable tag designed to offer multiple layers of security. Not only do they set of the EAS alarm when a shoplifter attempts to leave a store with an item, they also independently sound an alarm should someone try to tamper with the tag.

Detacher – The detacher is the device used to remove tags from products.

Pin – The pin is the component of hard tags that passes through a product and then locks into the tag. Pins come with different pin-head sizes. It’s generally noted, the larger the pin head size the harder it is to remove illegally as larger pins cannot be pulled through products without incurring damage. Ink pins can be added for increased deterrence.

Locking mechanism – All tags involve some sort of locking mechanism that secures the pinhead within the tag. The most common are mechanical locks and magnetic locks.


Strength – Magnetic locks come in a series of strengths:

  • Standard– Featuring a standard strength magnet, this option remains very popular with legacy systems but has the greatest potential to be circumvented by thieves.
  • SuperLock– Using a high-powered magnet often more than double the strength of standard magnets, tags of this grade provide increased resistance against illicit removal.
  • HyperLock– Boasting a combination of multiple high-powered magnets arranged into a single detacher body. HyperLock detachers are difficult for would-be criminals to manufacture, source and carry around, this evolution of magnetic technology resulted from a need for increased security and is available in ranges such as the BossTag HyperLock detachers can release all lower strength tags.
  • Multi–polar– Is the latest proprietary technology that requires sophisticated bi-directional magnets to release a tag. Multipolar tags cannot be released by any other magnet detacher no matter how powerful. NeoTag Multipolar tags are the result of years of development and represent the pinnacle of magnet release tag technology.


EAS Jargon

LabelsSecurity labels work in the same way as hard tags, but are more commonly used at stores with a greater number of products or where attaching a hard tag simply isn’t feasible. They come in a variety of sizes. Labels can be affixed at the store or the point of manufacture.

Deactivator – A deactivator is the device used to cancel the label’s signal so an item can leave a store without the alarm sounding.

RF and AM – EAS operates at one of two frequencies – RF or AM. AM (Acousto Magnetic) systems operate at 58 KHz, which means a signal is sent out in pulses or bursts between 50 and 90 times a second while (RF) Radio Frequency or RF operates in a sweep at 8.2 MHz.

RFID – RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. RFID involves small chips that can collect and store data. It’s used in conjunction with apparel or product tagging, providing immediate insight into the location of an item. Tags can be applied during manufacture so items can be tracked throughout the entire chain.

Source tagging – Source tagging sees EAS tags and labels applied at the point of manufacture rather than in-store.

False alarm – An unintentional setting off of an EAS alarm where there is no intent to shoplift. False alarms may occur when an item fails to be deactivated at the checkout, a protected display item is placed too close to the EAS system, there are undetected security tags in the area, or a system malfunction.

Pick Rate – The ratio of the number of times an EAS system detects an active EAS security label or tag versus the number of times it does not.

Tag pollution – A condition caused when an active EAS label is taken from one retail location to a second retail location with a working EAS system, thereby causing an alarm to sound.


 General terms

AnalyticsAnalytics is the electronic analysis of data collected about a retail environment. It includes information gathered at the Point of Sale such as sales data and returns, but also extends to traffic counting, inventory, sales transactions by staff members and more. Retail analytics are used by store owners and managers to make more informed decisions within a retail environment.

Benefit denial – Benefit denial is a method used to negatively impact a product that someone attempts to steal. The most common example is ink dye tags. When a thief attempts to remove them without the correct detacher, ink releases and renders the item unusable.

Smart lock – A lock used on retail cabinets or drawers that is opened via an electronic key. The key can be coded for use by different staff members or for use in specific areas.