RFID as electronic article surveillance (EAS)?

By Philip Lassner – Overheer Systems, division of ITL

In this brief whitepaper, we highlight the benefits of RFID as an effective EAS (Electronic Article surveillance) device/technology.

The traditional EAS model is ‘dumb’.

In a traditional EAS security model, a security tag is affixed to an item. The item is authorized to leave the store when the tag is removed from the item or deactivated by the sales associate. If, on the other hand, the item didn’t pass an approved sales procedure, an alarm is sounded at exit.

In the above model, no insights about stolen item(s) are reported to the retailer.  This model can be made ‘smarter’ with an upgrade to RFID.

‘Loss Visibility’ is the ability to know what went missing, when it went missing, and from where it went missing. With these smarter data points, retailers can replenish stolen items immediately. The net benefit – reducing the lost sales caused by ‘inventory disappearance’ by refilling the ‘holes.’

Yes, RFID makes traditional EAS models smarter.

In addition to the above, RFID as EAS also enables the retailer to introduce ‘Smart Alarming’. Not every item requires an audible alarm to be activated. For example, a $10 pair of socks might not require the sound and fury of an audible alarm. Perhaps a notification to a sales associate is enough. With RFID as EAS, alarming rules can be set-up. Higher priced items, set-up to trigger a camera. Lower priced items, set-up to send a notification. ‘Smart Alarming’ is possible with RFID.

Lastly, ‘internal theft’ (theft which is carried out by retail staff) is not thwarted in traditional EAS models. Staff have the know-how to avoid detection. With RFID as EAS, ‘always-on’ reads allow for more insight into the scene of the crime. Retailers can pinpoint trends between staffing and loss trends.

Alongside RFID as an inventory control tool, we are starting to see more and more uses cases where RFID is being used as an EAS tool.