Tips To Resolve Electronic Article Surveillance Label Alarms

I worked in Retail Loss Prevention for many years and during that time I had a lot of opportunities to stop shoplifting as the result of an electronic article surveillance alarm set off by a tagged piece of merchandise. Today I work in a library but still deal with alarms when patrons set them off as they exit or enter our building. The alarms are sometimes caused by items that are tagged but the tags have not been properly deactivated. In other cases it is the result of someone trying to sneak library materials out in order to steal them (sounds a lot like shoplifting doesn’t it?). It is necessary to investigate and resolve the source of any alarm until it is satisfactorily resolved. Just a few days ago a student was leaving the building and as she walked through our towers the alarm sounded. I used my Loss Prevention experience to stop the patron and talk to her about what may have caused the activation.

Whether it is a college library or a store, electronic article surveillance labels can prevent merchandise and property from being improperly removed from a building. In the case of a retail business those labels can make the difference between a profitable and successful enterprise and one that struggles. Sensormatic labels can prevent thieves from stealing but even with a system as good as Sensormatic’s a store must have employees available to respond to alarms. Those employees must also have the proper training to approach shoppers who set off alarms and the know how to resolve the alarms. It is not as easy as it may sound. I would like to offer some tips from my own experience so you can train your employees to identify what has set off an electronic article surveillance alarm system.

An employee who approaches a customer that has set off an alarm should never begin the interaction assuming the customer was trying to steal something. The attitude exhibited by the employee influences the way the customer will respond. I have found that by making a statement that indicates a mistake happened rather than an attempted theft can calm a patron almost immediately.  I will say something like, “Uh-oh, our system must not have deactivated a tag properly, I’m sorry.” 

I then begin the process of determining the cause of the alarm. In a store I will ask if the patron has made a purchase. If they say they did I ask if they could show me a receipt? If the patron said they bought something but they don’t have the receipt I ask if I can look in their bag. I follow up by asking what register they went through and after reviewing the transactions if I cannot locate the item I tell the customer we must have accidentally missed the item as we were scanning. No, I’m not throwing the cashier under the bus, I am giving the person an “out” so it does not appear I am accusing them of theft. 

If a look through a shopping bag does not reveal the cause of the alarm a bit if finesse will be required. You may have to try to get a peak in a purse, backpack or tote and that can be more difficult. People don’t like to have their personal belongings rummaged through. I like to say something that will make the person feel like I am helping them. If they have multiple bags I will suggest they walk one bag through the tower at a time. Through the process of elimination I find the bag that has the active tag in it. I then diffuse the situation further. I mention that I have had customers forget and put an item in a purse to see if it would fit (such as a wallet) and forget they put it in. Again, providing a ready-made excuse for the customer makes it easier to get an item back or the person to pay for it, I have encountered both. I also tell customers that sometimes people make purchases at other stores with electronic article surveillance systems and they fail to deactivate tags and it can set off our system.

A skilled employee who has been trained can stop shoplifting and even prevent unintentional missed merchandise from leaving the store.

If you don’t currently have a Sensormatic system in your store I strongly encourage you to get one. You will stop shoplifting and as you do you will see your instocks improve. THAT drives sales and profits. As evidence that my tips work, in the case of the library alarm, the student had two books in her backpack that she had forgotten about. I got them checked out and the student went on her way.


Need more information on electronic article surveillance, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.


Customer Service And Electronic Article Surveillance Tags – A Winning Solution To Stop Shoplifting

I have been in retail a LONG time and somewhere around 18 of those years were spent in Loss Prevention. Today I still work in retail but I have the opportunity to continue to ply my Loss Prevention skills in recommending to my manager items I think should have electronic article surveillance tags on them. Better yet is when I get to use my experience to stop shoplifting in the store. I had just such an opportunity recently while I was working. I will share the story with you in a moment and there will be pertinent tips you can employ in your own store to put a halt to theft. Before I do that I want to point out that the situation could have been avoided if the store used more electronic article surveillance (EAS) devices on products than what the company currently dictates.

Electronic Article Surveillance is a system that uses radio frequency (rf) emitting tags and rf receivers called pedestals or towers to protect merchandise from theft. Pedestals are placed at the entrances and exits of stores in order to detect a person trying to leave with unpaid, TAGGED products. These are electronic article surveillance tagsI emphasize tagged because without a protective device an item can’t be detected and this is how so many stores experience climbing shortage. Let me clarify that statement too. Retailers that have electronic article surveillance systems that are not maintained, of poor quality or do not have a strong tagging program in place also experience increased shortage. When the tagged products are carried into the range of the pedestals the pedestals have an alarm that blasts out an alert and nearby employees respond to conduct receipt and package checks. The more a store tags the more effective the deterrence value of the system. Electronic Article Surveillance Tags

Getting back to my recent incident, I was walking to the store from my vehicle and a manager was returning from his lunch break and stopped me. He pointed out a pick-up truck that had two males sitting in it and the manager said they had been there for a while and he had watched a female leave and enter the store. The manager said that he had called the store manager and alerted him. I got into the store and got clocked in and immediately went to the floor and began offering customer service to the female suspect. I also looked into the shopping basket and noted several items in it and that none of them had EAS tags (electronic article surveillance tags) on them. Well, I offered service and would leave the immediate area and a manager would start to watch. It took a few minutes but one of the men from the truck entered the store. The man and woman met up and were still being watched by managers but I was getting tired of the cat and mouse game. The female had enough small items that it would have been easy for her to conceal some in her purse if he had blocked for her. Without electronic article surveillance tags the alarms wouldn’t sound when they left and that would prevent an excuse for a bag check. I walked into the aisle with the couple, put on my best salesman smile and offered additional assistance. I even offered to ring them up on my mobile device. Oddly, they began saying they were uncomfortable with all of the attention and felt like they were being watched! The man even said he felt I was being pushy to ring their transaction. I smiled and let them know that one of my faults was I have been a pushy salesman for my 7 years at this company. The woman said she would put the items back and leave because she was so uncomfortable. I let her know she didn’t need to go to the trouble and I took the basket and assured her I would put the items back for her. The couple left and the three of them jumped back in the truck and left. We saved over $200.00 in merchandise through employee awareness and great customer service.

Customer service is a great way to increase sales and decrease theft but it should never be the only theft prevention measure. Use EAS tags on everything and rely on Loss Prevention Systems Inc. EAS systems for reliable technology and support. 

For more information about electronic article surveillance tags contact us or call 1.770.426.0547  

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