Regardless of whether you intend on selling high-end clothing, funky stationery or the latest line-up of high-tech gadgets, every new shopfront should look at their security systems as an integral part of their set-up.
Why? Because according to the Australian Retailers Association, the rising incidence of retail theft costs the industry billions of dollars each year, equating to between one and three per cent of all sales.
So how do you start your business on the right security footing? Here’s the first in a series of articles that outline all the features required to ensure the best protection for your new store.
Some quick stats
In 2015, the Global Retail Theft Barometer reported Australian retailers had lost U$2.44 billion to retail shrink. Almost 40 per cent of that was attributed to shoplifting, and a quarter to dishonest employees.
The art of guarding your new enterprise against this loss comes down to implementing a series of strategies including:
- Installing the right electronic article surveillance to alert you to the theft of items as it’s taking place
- Using the correct tags and labels for your product range
- Securing and monitoring high-value stock in cabinets and drawers
- Ensuring all areas of your store are visible through good store layout
- Protecting any out of sight areas like fitting rooms
- Screening and training staff
- Using additional features like signage or CCTV to deter thieves from the act
The right electronic article surveillance
Used by 73 per cent of retailers, electronic article surveillance (EAS) is considered one of the most effective theft mitigation strategies available, reducing theft by an estimated 60-80 per cent. But it’s not a one size fits all approach.
Implementing effective EAS requires you to consider the layout of your store, the type of products you stock and regularly upgrade to ensure you have the latest sufficient EAS technology at hand.
So how do you pick the right EAS system for you?
Types of EAS systems
There are two widely used types of EAS systems available, with the difference being the frequency at which they operate. Known as Radio Frequency (RF) or Acousto Magnetic (AM) systems, the differences between the two are as follows.
RF systems – The price of RF systems can range from very low cost for more basic RF systems through to high cost for advanced RF systems. RF offers the potential to upgrade to RFID with some RF antenna systems, and its available from a host of manufacturers.
On the downside, RF can offer a limited range of detection systems often restricted to pedestals, and the systems can be more susceptible to electronic and metallic interference.
AM systems – AM systems tend to offer a larger detection area, so antenna can be positioned further apart. This is ideal in retail scenarios where the entrance to the store is wide. These antennas can also be concealed in door structures or under the flooring. Meanwhile, AM is less susceptible to interference.
On the downside, the cost is often higher than RF, and antenna are not as easily upgraded to RFID.
Once you have selected an antenna system, it’s time to consider the tags or labels you will use on your products.
Security Tags and Security labels
Hard security tags and security labels for both RF and AM systems come in a range of sizes and strengths with some incorporating additional benefit denial features to make products less attractive to thieves.
Here are the major examples of the different types of products, the tag or label type generally used to secure them, and the factors you need to consider.
Clothing – Clothing is generally secured using hard tags which are available in a variety of strengths, shapes and with different operating mechanisms, and each of these factors adds up to improve the security of your items.
You can learn more about selecting the right clothing tag here, but there are a series of sizes and shapes available to suit any clothing item.
In today’s market with informed shoplifters and Youtube videos showing “How to…”, retailers need to arm themselves with security tags that cannot be defeated by detachers readily available online. At a minimum, retailers should ensure their security tags include a large pin head and have either Hyperlock or Multipolar tag locking mechanisms that require special and hard to source detachers to unlock.
Fashion accessories – When it comes to fashion accessories such as handbags and shoes, they are most often secured using a cable tag or lanyard and tag, rather than having a pin head pass through the actual product. Lanyards should incorporate high-strength cables that cannot be cut readily or pulled off by a thief. Meanwhile sunglasses can be guarded using purpose-designed optical tags.
Electronics – Due to their high resale value electronics are one of the most frequently targeted items for theft. If on accessible display, electronics are usually secured to a stand complete with alarm, charger and lockable cable.
Electronic accessories – The accessories that accompany electronics are also some of the most frequently stolen items, but there are a host of ways to secure them. These include display hooks, and multi-function tags.
Bottles – Whether it’s top-shelf liquor, or a rare bottle of red, there is a range of tags designed specifically for alcohol bottles, with straps, caps and secure locks available.
Small items – For small items like groceries or hardware, adhesive security 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. It’s worth noting that pharmaceuticals often have a high foil content, so AM based systems are better suited to their security.
Detachers and deactivators
All tags and labels require either detaching or deactivation in order for a product to exit the store without setting off an alarm. Security tag detachers are often specific to the make or strength of tag your store utilises.
Meanwhile, detachers are highly desirable items for any would-be thief so should be adequately secured at the point of sale, while still being readily and conveniently available to staff.
In the next post in this series we look at ways to secure high-value stock, how to protect your fitting room, creating store visibility and the value of screening and training staff.