Implementing an EAS Solution – Part 1: Antennas

Contributed by Eric Snyder, President of Choice Security Systems Southeast. 

In the 1980s and 90s as retailers adopted electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems and customers adapted to the presence of security systems, retailers had to discern the best and most effective ways to implement an EAS solution.  At first, the mere presence of the system was enough to deter even committed thieves from walking into a store. Gradually thieves learned how to get past those initial EAS systems, so EAS manufacturers have developed more sophisticated products to enable retailers to maintain their advantage. The basic plug-in antennas and clunky hard tags of the 80s’ and 90’s cannot secure merchandise as effectively as the next-generation products currently available.

Once a retailer decides on whether to employ an acousto-magnetic (AM) or a radio frequency (RF) system in their operation, proper implementation of the solution is crucial. The selection of antennas, tags, labels, and data services can absolutely determine the success ratio of an EAS system in any retail environment. 

Let’s begin with the antennas.  Ideally, a retailer will install antennas at every entrance/exit as well as other areas that customers can access like bathrooms and dressing rooms. Thieves always take merchandise into bathrooms and dressing rooms and then attempt to remove the merchandise by placing it in bags, or on their bodies. Retailers always report that they find broken hard tags on the dressing room floors, an obvious indication of theft.  As such, placing antennas near bathrooms and dressing rooms can be a critical component of a store’s EAS solution. But beyond determining where a store will place antennas, there are other factors involved.

Here are some of the questions a retailer should consider before implementing an EAS solution:

  • How sturdy should the antennas be? Strong enough to handle direct hits by shopping carts?
  • How obvious or unobtrusive should the antennas be? Sleek and mounted to the door? Unseen and mounted under the floor? Large and bold to send a clear signal that the store is protected?
  • Should the antennas match with the store’s design aesthetic by incorporating Plexiglas, LED lights, wood, or metal?

All of these questions should be answered for a solution to match what a retailer wants.  Then an owner needs to think about additional options that work with the antennas. 

  • Is knowing the number of customers that enter a store important? And if, so would the store operations benefit from the data that can be gleaned from the number of customers?
  • Would the store owner / manager benefit from running data-based reports to enable decision-making about staffing and store hours?
  • Would the store like the owner/manager to be notified every time an alarm sounds? And, would the store benefit from knowing how quickly a manager responds to an alarm?
  • Would the store benefit from the energy savings provided by having the antennas in sleep mode when the store is closed?
  • Would the store benefit from having a product, called Hyperguard, which detects items that are used to detach, detune, or block the electronic signal emitted by a tag or label?
  • Would a store like to implement surveillance cameras and DVR’s, and if so, have them linked to the antennas, so that when an alarm sounds, the DVR automatically records the incident, potentially capturing valuable visual information about a theft?

Once an owner has answered these questions and selected the best antenna system for her operation, she has laid the foundation for a successful EAS implementation.

Contributed on behalf of Choice Security Systems, a certified partner of Checkpoint Systems – offering the most advanced RF security antennas, alarming hard tags, keepers, paper-thin security labels, people counting and data reporting, and parts & service. Checkpoint Systems is the preferred merchandise security vendor for some of the world’s largest retail chains. Learn more here. 

Photo Details: Akira in Chicago, Illinois

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