Properly Respond To Electronic Article Surveillance Alarms

 

Checkpoint Labels-5                                                                                                                       WC Blog 501
Electronic Article Surveillance-4


Properly Respond To Electronic Article Surveillance Alarms

     I write a lot about the benefits of using Checkpoint labels to protect merchandise from theft but I realized I do not necessarily do an adequate job of providing guidance on how to respond to electronic article surveillance alarms. I am going to spend some time in the article talking to you about the do’s and don’ts of alarm activations. It may sound like it is easy to do but issues can arise if an employee does it incorrectly.

     You may be new to the world of electronic article surveillance and how it works so before I go too far into my article I am going to delve into it a bit here. Electronic article surveillance is used to protect merchandise through radio wave transmissions. Checkpoint labels come in several versions but are basically peel off labels with circuitry built into them. The circuitry sends out a radio wave on a specific frequency and this radio wave can be picked up by Checkpoint pedestals which are receivers. The pedestals are located near store entrances/exits or areas where merchandise is not to be taken into. When a tag has not been de-sensitized at a point of sale and the merchandise it is attached to is carried too close to a pedestal an alarm sounds. It is this alarm that requires a response and if a store is doing everything properly alarms will result in merchandise recoveries. In this way Checkpoint labels prevent shoplifters from stealing merchandise in stores where training is a focus.

     
     I am sure there are some of you out there who are wondering how anyone could mess up a response to an alarm pedestal. There are a several ways to do this and I think I can safely say that over my 27 years in retail and Retail Loss Prevention I have probably seen most of them. To respond to an alarm activation properly store employees must:
Be trained – I have watched employees just walk up and look into a customer’s bag and start rifling through it looking for the piece of merchandise the caused a problem. You have to be sure that employees responding to Checkpoint label alarms understand they have to respect the rights of the customer. The customer has the right to refuse to allow someone to look through their personal belongings. A store may reserve the right to look through a store shopping bag but it better be clearly posted in plain view. The approach to getting someone to give permission is key to having a successful deterrent program.
This leads to my next point an employee must be personable and friendly when approaching someone who has activated an alarm. One thing that happens is that an employee may approach someone who is standing at a door waiting for a responder following an alarm. The customer waiting may not have been the one to activate the alarm. If multiple people are leaving about the same time, one person may set off the alarm carrying merchandise with active Checkpoint labels on them. The person who set off the alarm continued to walk out while an innocent person may just be trying to make sure they did not cause the alarm. Walking up to that person and treating them like a shoplifter can lead to all sorts of problems. Politeness and tact are going to resolve alarms and in the majority of cases result in the recovery of merchandise.
An employee responding to alarm activations has to be able to give excuses to a potential shoplifter. What I mean is this, when responding to a pedestal alarm if someone IS trying to steal there is a better chance of getting merchandise back if the responder can say words like, “Is there something in your bag the cashier may have overlooked?” or, “Sometimes people get their hands full and accidently put things in their pockets or purses intending to take it out and forget they had it until they get to the door.”  Being smart and diplomatic can pay off in a big way. 
A responder must also be able to deal with angry and upset patrons. Someone attempting to steal may try to display an attitude and act indignant in order to embarrass or intimidate the employee and get them to just send them out the door. Training should include how to de-escalate a tense situation without giving in to the temptation to just get the person out the door. An employee who gets tense or angry can make a situation explosive.
   How your team responds to alarms can be the difference between antagonizing people and making substantial recoveries.  Follow these suggestions and you can be sure you are optimizing your electronic article surveillance pedestals and tags and staying profitable. 
Need information on electronic article surveillance? Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.

I write a lot about the benefits of using labels to protect merchandise from theft but I realized I do not necessarily do an adequate job of providing guidance on how to respond to electronic article surveillance alarms. I am going to spend some time in the article talking to you about the do’s and don’ts of alarm activations. It may sound like it is easy to do but issues can arise if an employee does it incorrectly.
     

You may be new to the world of electronic article surveillance (EAS) and how it works so before I go too far into my article I am going to delve into it a bit here. Electronic article surveillance is used to protect merchandise through radio wave transmissions. EAS labels come in several versions but are basically peel off labels with circuitry built into them. The circuitry sends out a radio wave on a specific frequency and this radio wave can be picked up by EAS pedestals which are receivers. The pedestals are located near store entrances/exits or areas where merchandise is not to be taken into. When a tag has not been de-sensitized at a point of sale and the merchandise it is attached to is carried too close to a pedestal an alarm sounds. It is this alarm that requires a response and if a store is doing everything properly alarms will result in merchandise recoveries. In this way EAS labels prevent shoplifters from stealing merchandise in stores where training is a focus.
          

I am sure there are some of you out there who are wondering how anyone could mess up a response to an alarm pedestal. There are a several ways to do this and I think I can safely say that over my 27 years in retail and Retail Loss Prevention I have probably seen most of them. To respond to an alarm activation properly store employees must:

Be trained – I have watched employees just walk up and look into a customer’s bag and start rifling through it looking for the piece of merchandise the caused a problem. You have to be sure that employees responding to EAS label alarms understand they have to respect the rights of the customer. The customer has the right to refuse to allow someone to look through their personal belongings. A store may reserve the right to look through a store shopping bag but it better be clearly posted in plain view. The approach to getting someone to give permission is key to having a successful deterrent program.

This leads to my next point an employee must be personable and friendly when approaching someone who has activated an alarm. One thing that happens is that an employee may approach someone who is standing at a door waiting for a responder following an alarm. The customer waiting may not have been the one to activate the alarm. If multiple people are leaving about the same time, one person may set off the alarm carrying merchandise with active EAS labels on them. The person who set off the alarm continued to walk out while an innocent person may just be trying to make sure they did not cause the alarm. Walking up to that person and treating them like a shoplifter can lead to all sorts of problems. Politeness and tact are going to resolve alarms and in the majority of cases result in the recovery of merchandise.

An employee responding to alarm activations has to be able to give excuses to a potential shoplifter. What I mean is this, when responding to a pedestal alarm if someone IS trying to steal there is a better chance of getting merchandise back if the responder can say words like, “Is there something in your bag the cashier may have overlooked?” or, “Sometimes people get their hands full and accidently put things in their pockets or purses intending to take it out and forget they had it until they get to the door.”  Being smart and diplomatic can pay off in a big way. 

A responder must also be able to deal with angry and upset patrons. Someone attempting to steal may try to display an attitude and act indignant in order to embarrass or intimidate the employee and get them to just send them out the door. Training should include how to de-escalate a tense situation without giving in to the temptation to just get the person out the door. An employee who gets tense or angry can make a situation explosive.   

 

How your team responds to alarms can be the difference between antagonizing people and making substantial recoveries.  Follow these suggestions and you can be sure you are optimizing your electronic article surveillance pedestals and tags and staying profitable. 

 

Need information on electronic article surveillance? Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.

Deactivate Labels To Avoid Customer Service Issues

 

Stop Shoplifting – 3                                                                                                                  WC Blog 469
Checkpoint Labels – 4
Deactivate Checkpoint Labels To Avoid Customer Service Issues 
     My current position as a shift manager in a library is sometimes very similar to my former position as a Loss Prevention Manager. In the library we use anti-theft systems that are identical to the retail anti-theft systems found in retail stores. We use tags here similar to EAS (electronic article surveillance) Checkpoint labels that we used in my store and they operate in a like manner. The tag we use in books and on DVD’s and music CD’s protects library inventory just as the EAS labels protected so many of the products we sold in our store.  The systems are so similar that I recover materials on a fairly frequent basis using the skills I learned in retail to stop shoplifting. I also find I have to coach employees about the need to deactivate or de-tune labels properly just as I did in retail.
     Stepping back for a moment I want to explain what Checkpoint labels are. These are soft tags that retail stores can place on merchandise that will cause an alarm in an EAS pedestal. The labels have a coiled wire in them that sends out a signal and when the signal gets in a specific vicinity of a pedestal an alarm is triggered. The alarm coming from the pedestal attracts the attention of store personnel and they respond to determine what caused the activation. Usually the only reason for an alarm is someone leaving a store with merchandise that has not been paid for. On a rare occasion an employee may fail to see merchandise in the bottom of a shopping cart that can then set off a pedestal. It is also possible that the employee does not use a scan bed or deactivation pad properly and this will cause an alarm. Both of these are rare instances and require follow up training with the employee. 
     The system in our library is similar to a Checkpoint system with the difference being that we are preventing theft of materials while the store retail anti-theft system will stop shoplifting. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that sometimes we have failures to deactivate tags in the library just as we encountered in retail. For example, the other day I was at one of our desks and heard the alarm pedestal sound. I came around the corner and spoke to the patron who clearly could not figure out why the alarm sounded. She was insistent she had just checked out an item. Since we often email receipts I could not compare a receipt to anything to determine if she was telling me the truth. I nicely escorted her back to the counter where she had checked out and she told me who it was that checked out her materials. The worker confirmed that he had and I asked if he had used the deactivation pad when he checked out the items. It turned out he had used the hand scanner and did not use the pad and it caused the alarm. I had the materials checked in and out again properly and sent the patron on her way. I then explained to the worker what he had done wrong and the impact it had on customer service by not being careful. The EAS deactivation pad turns off an EAS label. When the handheld scanner is used but the materials are not laid on the pad Checkpoint labels are not turned off or detuned and this causes false alarms at the pedestals.
     The lesson was learned and I may not have to address this worker again but as in retail you have to keep on top of these things. As a Loss Prevention Manager I had to speak to cashiers regularly about the customer service issues caused when they failed to deactivate Checkpoint Labels. It is difficult to stop shoplifting when excessive alarms cause unnecessary distractions and employee response becomes lazy. In the library excessive alarms are loud and irritate students trying to study. It also causes staff to become complacent in alarm response in a library and opens up the opportunity for materials to be stolen. Whether it is in a library or a retail store be sure to train staff on how to properly deactivate Checkpoint labels to make your systems more effective and customer friendly. 
Get more information on Checkpoint labels. Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.

My current position as a shift manager in a library is sometimes very similar to my former position as a Loss Prevention Manager. In the library we use anti-theft systems that are identical to the retail anti-theft systems found in retail stores. We use tags here similar to EAS (electronic article surveillance) labels that we used in my store and they operate in a like manner. The tag we use in books and on DVD’s and music CD’s protects library inventory just as the EAS labels protected so many of the products we sold in our store. The systems are so similar that I recover materials on a fairly frequent basis using the skills I learned in retail to stop shoplifting. I also find I have to coach employees about the need to deactivate or de-tune labels properly just as I did in retail.

Stepping back for a moment I want to explain what labels are. These are soft tags that retail stores can place on merchandise that will cause an alarm in an EAS pedestal. The labels have a coiled wire in them that sends out a signal and when the signal gets in a specific vicinity of a pedestal an alarm is triggered. The alarm coming from the pedestal attracts the attention of store personnel and they respond to determine what caused the activation. Usually the only reason for an alarm is someone leaving a store with merchandise that has not been paid for. On a rare occasion an employee may fail to see merchandise in the bottom of a shopping cart that can then set off a pedestal. It is also possible that the employee does not use a scan bed or deactivation pad properly and this will cause an alarm. Both of these are rare instances and require follow up training with the employee. 

The system in our library is similar to a EAS system with the difference being that we are preventing theft of materials while the store retail anti-theft system will stop shoplifting. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that sometimes we have failures to deactivate tags in the library just as we encountered in retail. For example, the other day I was at one of our desks and heard the alarm pedestal sound. I came around the corner and spoke to the patron who clearly could not figure out why the alarm sounded. She was insistent she had just checked out an item. Since we often email receipts I could not compare a receipt to anything to determine if she was telling me the truth. I nicely escorted her back to the counter where she had checked out and she told me who it was that checked out her materials. The worker confirmed that he had and I asked if he had used the deactivation pad when he checked out the items. It turned out he had used the hand scanner and did not use the pad and it caused the alarm. I had the materials checked in and out again properly and sent the patron on her way. I then explained to the worker what he had done wrong and the impact it had on customer service by not being careful. The EAS deactivation pad turns off an EAS label. When the handheld scanner is used but the materials are not laid on the pad labels are not turned off or detuned and this causes false alarms at the pedestals.

 

The lesson was learned and I may not have to address this worker again but as in retail you have to keep on top of these things. As a Loss Prevention Manager I had to speak to cashiers regularly about the customer service issues caused when they failed to deactivate labels. It is difficult to stop shoplifting when excessive alarms cause unnecessary distractions and employee response becomes lazy. In the library excessive alarms are loud and irritate students trying to study. It also causes staff to become complacent in alarm response in a library and opens up the opportunity for materials to be stolen. Whether it is in a library or a retail store be sure to train staff on how to properly deactivate labels to make your systems more effective and customer friendly. 

 

Get more information on labels. Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.

SAY NO TO SHOPLIFTING BY UTILIZING EAS LABELS IN YOUR STORE NOW!

 

SAY NO TO SHOPLIFTING BY UTILIZING EAS LABELS IN YOUR STORE NOW!
 EAS Labels-   4                        ML Blog 17
 Stop Shoplifting – 3
        
       Working in Loss Prevention shows you all aspects of shoplifting. Each day as you are watching for thieves, you never know what will happen or what technique you will observe. One day you are catching a thoroughly experienced thief who steals for a living. The next day you are catching a mom pushing a stroller with kids. Other times you may catch a group of 5 kids, not thinking about the seriousness of what they are doing. Some days you run into extremely strange situations that make you wonder what the person was thinking! You just never know. Just last month, I had a strange incident with EAS Labels! My store now uses them every day to stop shoplifting! 
       One morning I was on CCTV, scanning CCTV on a very slow morning. Slow, I thought! I had a subject enter the store acting very suspiciously. She paced the sales floor for close to 20 minutes, looking for associates and acting extremely nervous. This is a behavior I know too well from shoplifters, so I had to be patient and continue to observe. I kept CCTV on her due to these behaviors. After she finally felt “safe” to steal, she started rapidly selecting our highest dollar product out of the home décor department. I noticed all of the product was small, and would be easily concealable in a large purse she was carrying. After selecting 8 items priced between $39.99 and $79.00, she AGAIN paced the sales floor appearing very paranoid for another 20 minutes. I knew at this point, this was going to be a long, drawn out shoplifting incident. I continued to watch, and finally the subject started pulling each price tag off each item. After pulling the tags, she walked the floor looking for a trash can to conceal the ripped tags in. The subject finally concealed each item slowly into her purse. However, one thing struck me as extremely odd. Why go through all this trouble scoping out the sales floor & pulling tags but not removing the EAS Labels!!? It didn’t make any sense. That should be the first thing you want off, especially with how they alarm at the door! The subject ended up walking the floor for another 45 minutes before finally exiting the building! Finally, she looks like she is making her way for an exit. While exiting, the alarm went ballistic! She panicked, quickly dumping all product on ground, just as I thought would happen. She ran to her vehicle, and took off as fast as she could. The store associates and I ran outside to where she dumped. I was able to recover all product from outside the store! EAS Labels saved us from taking a loss on this product! After this incident, I had several other occurrences where the labels worked to stop shoplifting. Less worry, more product on the shelf. Another positive element is how extremely easy they are to apply, and an inexpensive fix.
       I invested a lot of time into this case. But the payoff was massive! Especially showing my store team that the labels we have in place works to stop shoplifting. This was a strange shoplifter case, but it helped illustrate for store management why we utilize EAS labels anytime we receive high dollar product to place on the shelves! You will see a decrease in theft trends once you utilize the same program as me. 
   Need information on EAS Labels? Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now. 
.                                                        

Working in Loss Prevention shows you all aspects of shoplifting. Each day as you are watching for thieves, you never know what will happen or what technique you will observe. One day you are catching a thoroughly experienced thief who steals for a living. The next day you are catching a mom pushing a stroller with kids. Other times you may catch a group of 5 kids, not thinking about the seriousness of what they are doing. Some days you run into extremely strange situations that make you wonder what the person was thinking! You just never know. Just last month, I had a strange incident with EAS Labels! My store now uses them every day to stop shoplifting

One morning I was on CCTV, scanning CCTV on a very slow morning. Slow, I thought! I had a subject enter the store acting very suspiciously. She paced the sales floor for close to 20 minutes, looking for associates and acting extremely nervous. This is a behavior I know too well from shoplifters, so I had to be patient and continue to observe. I kept CCTV on her due to these behaviors. After she finally felt “safe” to steal, she started rapidly selecting our highest dollar product out of the home décor department. I noticed all of the product was small, and would be easily concealable in a large purse she was carrying. After selecting 8 items priced between $39.99 and $79.00, she AGAIN paced the sales floor appearing very paranoid for another 20 minutes. I knew at this point, this was going to be a long, drawn out shoplifting incident. I continued to watch, and finally the subject started pulling each price tag off each item. After pulling the tags, she walked the floor looking for a trash can to conceal the ripped tags in. The subject finally concealed each item slowly into her purse. However, one thing struck me as extremely odd. Why go through all this trouble scoping out the sales floor & pulling tags but not removing the EAS Labels!!? It didn’t make any sense. That should be the first thing you want off, especially with how they alarm at the door! The subject ended up walking the floor for another 45 minutes before finally exiting the building! Finally, she looks like she is making her way for an exit. While exiting, the alarm went ballistic! She panicked, quickly dumping all product on ground, just as I thought would happen. She ran to her vehicle, and took off as fast as she could. The store associates and I ran outside to where she dumped. I was able to recover all product from outside the store! EAS Labels saved us from taking a loss on this product! After this incident, I had several other occurrences where the labels worked to stop shoplifting. Less worry, more product on the shelf. Another positive element is how extremely easy they are to apply, and an inexpensive fix.

I invested a lot of time into this case. But the payoff was massive! Especially showing my store team that the labels we have in place works to stop shoplifting. This was a strange shoplifter case, but it helped illustrate for store management why we utilize EAS labels anytime we receive high dollar product to place on the shelves! You will see a decrease in theft trends once you utilize the same program as me. 

Need information on EAS Labels? Give us a call at 1.866.914.2567 now.