I recently wrote an article about problems electronic article surveillance labels can cause when stores go to an online order and pick-up system. Wouldn’t you know it? I end up being guilty of what I warned readers about. I don’t know if I should feel vindicated or just silly. Here is what happened; I was working at my retail job and a customer came in to pick up her online order, ink jet cartridges. The cartridges had been processed and were in a bag in the pick-up area. I retrieved the bag and rang up the order and since it was paid online the paperwork is just a formality to ensure the right person is getting the merchandise. I processed her paperwork and at the same time was getting other calls to assist customers on the salesfloor. I thanked her for making the purchase and hurried to ring the next customer so I could get to the patron needing my assistance on the floor as it was that kind of day. The next thing I knew the Sensormatic tower was alarming and it was the customer with the online order, I forgot to deactivate the concealed Sensormatic labels inside the box containing the ink cartridges that had already been bagged up. I had to sheepishly apologize as she stood there looking rather annoyed at me.
What was particularly frustrating for me in this case is I am a former Loss Prevention Manager and I know about source tagged merchandise. Sensormatic labels can be applied to merchandise in one of two methods. They can be placed inside of packaging by the manufacturer, built into Manufacture hang tags or into a store UPC code. They may also be placed on merchandise by store personnel. In most instances if the store is placing the electronic article surveillance labels on products the label will be in a visible location. There are two schools of thought on the placement of labels. One line of thinking is that visible labels are more of a deterrent because shoplifters will see the anti-theft device and leave the product alone. The other thought is that if labels are concealed it puts a question mark on every item in a store for a crook. Personally I see advantages to both. The biggest advantage of source tagging is that it removes that task from the store so payroll can be focused elsewhere. Whichever method of protecting merchandise a store manager chooses it is important to remember that every label or tag going through a point of sale must be deactivated or removed.
As illustrated in my story, failing to deactivate Sensormatic labels or remove hard tags can create a poor shopping experience for paying customers. They may have had a great time shopping and employees may have offered up exceptional service but if that patron walks out the door and that alarm sounds all of the positive experiences may be wiped out. This is true no matter how quickly an employee responds to the alarm or how profusely apologetic a manager may be for the error. If it happens too frequently to that customer they may stop visiting for a while or make negative comments to friends and family. That can impact sales on the store down the road.
Failure to regularly deactivate or remove electronic article surveillance labels can also cause cashiers and supervisors to become lackadaisical in responding to alarms. With alarms sounding all of the time due to cashier error or faulty equipment I have seen employees stop responding to towers as they signal alerts that a tag is going out the door. It is also noticed by shoplifters who decide that the store really doesn’t care about whether a person sets off the alarm. They believe (and are probably right more often than not) that they will get away with their criminal activity.
Don’t let the specter of false alarms keep you from tagging merchandise or worse, not invest in an electronic article surveillance system at all. Sensormatic security systems will reduce theft. When the equipment is tested regularly and your employees are properly trained on deactivating and removing labels and tags you will save money and chase away criminal elements. When a system is used properly the occasional error by a former Loss Prevention Manager isn’t going to harm your business, just don’t let him cashier too often.
Electronic Article Surveillance is important and we can help you with it. Call 1.866.914.2567 and let’s talk.