The Primary Tool of Inventory Management You Need to Know About

Customer service is an independent retailer’s greatest advantage.  The one-on-one personal attention an owner and her employees can give to customers cannot be matched either by Internet or big box retailers.  But how can a small retailer focus on customer experience while also being mindful of inventory management?

Multinationals and big box retailers use many techniques to prevent product loss, ensure product availability, and manage supply chains.  They use the most advanced technology to ensure that the right amount of product, at the right size is at the right store on the right day of the week— every week, at every store.  A single store or small chain cannot invest in every available inventory management solution without compromising profits and customer service.  But independent retailers can employ the initial solution —an EAS system.

EAS systems have been the primary tool of retail inventory management for over 30 years.

Every major retailer has an EAS system. Clothing, food, drugs, sporting goods, beauty supplies, toys, and jewelry can all be protected by EAS tags and labels. EAS antennas can be large and obvious, sleek and stylish, or essentially invisible, but all are designed for the same purpose—to stop unpaid merchandise from leaving an establishment.

EAS is an acronym for Electronic Article Surveillance and an EAS system consists of two essential parts: a tag or label which contains metal strips or circuitry and antennas which are configured to detect the notes or signals those tags and labels emit. The antennas emit short-range pulses or waves which in turn activate the tags or labels, once those tags or labels fall within range of the antennas. The antennas will then emit an alarm.

An EAS system can use either AM (acousto-magnetic) or RF (radio frequency) technology.  Although there are significant technical differences in how these systems operate, in practical terms, the real difference is between range and variability.  In an AM system the antennas can be set a little further apart, while in an RF system, a retailer can use a far greater variety of tags and labels on merchandise. Thus, an RF system has far more flexibility than an AM system. Retailers will select AM or RF depending upon the inventory they carry and how they wish to tag that inventory.

But what are the benefits of an EAS system for independent retailers beyond basic inventory management?

  1. Potential thieves recognize that an owner cares about her merchandise and is active in protecting it for her customers.  This encourages thieves to target other retailers without systems.
  2. Customers recognize that the owner considers her merchandise valuable enough to protect. It also suggests that a retailer is taking steps to prevent price inflation. Both of which can subtly influence a customer’s opinion of the price she is willing to pay for goods.
  3. EAS antennas act like a “virtual bouncer” at the door, enabling employees to focus more on customer service than on scanning the store for potential thieves or following suspicious people.
  4. The most advanced antennas can accurately count the number of visitors entering and exiting a store.  Visitor numbers can be used to check the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, customer response to improved practices or new products, and the best times to operate the store and schedule staff.

An EAS system is the primary tool of inventory management. An independent retailer who successfully controls her inventory ensures that she can compete with other retailers and allows her to leverage her greatest asset – direct customer interaction and service.

Contributed by Eric J. Snyder, President of Choice Security Systems Southeast – a certified partner of Checkpoint Systems. Learn more here. 

Image provided by with permission to use. 

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