Which Security Tag or Label Is Right For You?

by Marina Bridal on June 22, 2023

Last year, US retailers incurred a staggering loss of over $100 billion due to shoplifting, as reported by the National Retail Federation. To tackle this issue, various methods have been devised, but security tags and labels stand out as one of the most cost-effective strategies. Determining the right security tags and labels to purchase can be a daunting task. This blog post aims to clarify the diverse styles, sizes, and combinations available, equipping you with the knowledge to effectively protect your store.


Security Labels:

EAS labels serve as an effective security measure by triggering an alarm when they approach the antenna at the store's exit. While their detection range is smaller compared to EAS security tags, they are particularly suitable for safeguarding high volume, low-value items or products that cannot accommodate a hard tag. Typically, these labels are available in rolls, with order quantities ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 labels, enabling efficient application in bulk on various items.

Security labels possess the advantage of being discreetly applied, allowing them to go unnoticed by shoppers. Unlike hard tags, they have the capability to remain undetected. Furthermore, security labels are designed for single-use and do not require removal at the checkout counter. Instead, their circuit is easily deactivated using a label deactivator, ensuring a smooth shopping experience for customers while maintaining an effective security measure.


Security Tags:

In comparison to security labels, security tags cost more, but offer the advantage of being reusable (unless damaged). These tags can be categorized into three main types: Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) tags, visual deterrent tags, and benefit denial tags. Each category possesses different attributes that contribute to their value as essential components of your loss prevention team. While EAS tags provide electronic surveillance, visual deterrent tags serve as a visible deterrent, and benefit denial tags reduce a thief's incentive to shoplift. Together, these security tags contribute to a comprehensive and effective loss prevention strategy.


EAS Tags:

The EAS system operates by establishing communication between tags and an antenna located near the entrance of a store. Our company specializes in manufacturing the "Clarity," a sleek and modern antenna designed to seamlessly integrate with the aesthetic and loss prevention strategy of any store. When a tagged item approaches the proximity of this antenna, it triggers an alarm, promptly alerting staff members to the presence of a potential threat. By combining functionality with an appealing design, the Clarity antenna enhances the overall security measures of your store while maintaining a visually pleasing atmosphere.

Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) operates through the application of activated tags or labels on merchandise. These devices interfere with the magnetic radio field emitted by the antenna positioned at the front of the store, such as "The Clarity," triggering an alarm if they have not been properly removed or deactivated. When customers reach the checkout, the process of removing or deactivating these labels and tags is swift and straightforward for cashiers, ensuring a seamless and efficient shopping experience.


What system should my store use: AM or RF?

There are two main EAS systems, Radio Frequency (RF) and Acousto-Magnetic (AM). The difference between these two systems is the frequency at which the tags and antenna operate. 

Radio Frequency (RF) systems work by creating a narrow, low-frequency electro-magnetic radio field. When this field is disrupted by a tag or label, it causes that system to alarm. RF systems most popularly use 8.2MHz, but other frequencies can be 1.81MHz, 1.95MHz, 2.0MHz, 3.25MHz, and 4.7MHz. As RF Systems are the least expensive, they are the most popularly used by retailers. They are most commonly used in apparel, shoe, sporting goods, and houseware stores. RF labels are thinner and more like a classic “sticker” material. 

Acousto-Magnetic (AM) Systems work similarly to RF Systems, but work at the 58KHz frequency. AM Systems have a better detection range and are the best choice in environments with a lot of radio noise from other sources. The stores that most frequently use AM Systems are consumer electronic, home improvement, grocery, and pharmaceuticals. AM labels are larger and a bit bulkier. They have a “puffy” appearance. 

The decision between using an AM or RF system for your store's EAS depends on various factors and considerations.

AM System:

  1. Detection Range: AM systems generally offer a longer detection range, making them suitable for larger store layouts.
  2. Interference: AM systems are less prone to interference from metal or liquids, resulting in fewer false alarms.
  3. Cost: AM systems are usually more expensive than RF systems.

RF System:

  1. Cost: RF systems are generally more affordable than AM systems, making them a budget-friendly option.
  2. Tag Compatibility: RF systems often have a wider range of compatible tags, providing flexibility in tag selection.
  3. Installation: RF systems are generally easier to install compared to AM systems.

Ultimately, the choice between AM and RF systems depends on factors such as the size and layout of your store, budget constraints, and specific requirements. It is advisable to consult with EAS system providers or security experts who can assess your store's needs and provide personalized recommendations based on your circumstances.

Be sure to check with management before selecting which frequency you choose. Some franchise or chain stores prefer to stick with one specific frequency across all stores!


Clothing Security Tags:

Clothing tags consist of three essential components: the tag itself (housing the receiver in the case of EAS), the pin that goes through the garment, and the locking mechanism that secures the pin in place.

There are two commonly used types of locking mechanisms: magnetic and mechanical. Magnetic tags come in various strengths, including standard, SuperLock, HyperLock, and Multi-polar. The strength of the magnetic lock determines the level of difficulty in illegally removing the tag. For enhanced security, it is recommended to use a minimum strength of SuperLock. A Super Designer Detacher is typically required to remove these tags.

Fashion tags come in different shapes, with some of the most common ones being alligator tags (featuring a hinge), pencil tags (long and thin), rectangular tags, and round or shell tags. In terms of security, shell tags are considered the most challenging to pry open and remove, as they lack a gap for maneuvering.

In addition to the locking mechanism and tag shape, the size of the pin-head is a crucial consideration when selecting clothing tags. A larger pinhead reduces the likelihood of illegal removal by pulling it through the garment. To prevent damage to items, lanyards can be used to attach security tags through buttonholes, and non-grooved pins specially designed for delicate fabrics like lingerie and swimwear can be utilized.


Fashion Accessory Tags:

When it comes to securing accessories such as shoes, handbags, luggage, or jewelry, there are various options available that utilize security tags.

One of the most popular choices for accessories are tags with lanyard attachments. These tags provide a versatile and convenient solution for securing items. Among the popular options in this category is the screamer tag. Screamer tags are equipped with a self-alarming feature and can be easily attached around any loop or suitable attachment point on a product. Not only are these tags able to trigger the alarm at the store entrance if taken near the antenna, but they also have their own built-in alarm mechanism. This means that if the wire of the screamer tag is tampered with or broken, it will emit a loud alarm, further enhancing the security of the item.

The screamer tag offers a reliable and effective means of protecting accessories while also providing an additional layer of security through its individual alarm functionality.


Bottle Tags:

Alcohol and bottles of liquor are highly sought-after targets for theft due to their frequent targeting. Hard alcohol, in particular, are desirable as they can be easily concealed and resold at a significant profit.

To counteract this type of theft, retailers have found great success by using bottle tags. Bottle security tags serve as a dual-purpose solution by acting as a visual deterrent and providing EAS security. Various types of bottle tags are available to cater to different needs. These options encompass slimline tags, cable tags, and bottle locks.


Optical Tags:

Loss prevention is an essential concern for retailers specializing in eyeglasses and sunglasses. Given their classification as fashion accessories, sunglasses are among the most frequently targeted items by shoplifters.

To address this issue, optical tags have been specifically crafted to attach to the frames of eyewear. These tags are designed in a manner that allows customers to try on the sunglasses while ensuring their security.


Tags for Boxed Items:

Spider Tags, alternatively known as Spider Wraps, offer an ideal solution for protecting high-value boxed items. These tags possess a self-alarming feature, incorporating a small speaker that activates an alarm when tampering is detected. Additionally, they leverage their EAS capabilities to trigger the store's entrance gate alarm.

When utilizing Spider Tags, they are typically positioned at the center of the item, and their wires are wrapped around the product. By twisting the tag and securely closing it, the item is effectively secured in place.


Benefit Denial Tags:

Benefit denial tags serve as a powerful deterrent against shoplifting by completely negating any advantages of stealing an item. These tags operate by destroying the item upon tampering. One of the most prevalent types of benefit denial tags is the ink dye tag, which releases permanent ink when the tag is tampered with, rendering the stolen item unusable for resale or personal use. Typically, these tags are applied to fabric-based products such as clothing, linens, or blankets.

Certain ink tags are equipped with EAS technology, adding an additional layer of security. In cases where ink tags do not come with built-in EAS technology, you can enhance their effectiveness by incorporating an EAS tag in place of a traditional pin or clutch. This simple adjustment enhances the security tags' loss prevention capabilities by providing them with alarming functionality.


Visual Deterrent Tags:

Visual tags are designed to create the illusion of an EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) system in place, without actually having a receiver that communicates with an antenna. Similar to decoy security cameras or warning signs, visual tags serve as a deterrent to potential shoplifters.

Unlike traditional security tags that trigger an alarm and alert staff when tampered with, visual tags primarily function as a visual deterrent rather than actively sounding an alarm. These tags are particularly useful in stores that either do not have a sophisticated EAS system yet or already have a significant number of existing tags. By employing visual tags, it becomes challenging for shoplifters to distinguish which tags will trigger an alarm and which ones are decoys.

In most cases, security tags are intentionally placed in obvious locations on items to enhance their effectiveness as visual deterrents.


Pins, Clutches, and Lanyards - Oh my!

Certain security tags, such as pencil tags or red-eye ink tags, rely on the use of a pin or a clutch for attachment. The pin, clutch, or lanyard is inserted into the tag, ensuring its secure placement. When it comes to removing the pin, clutch, or lanyard, it is important to position the tag on a detacher with the pin's pointy end facing downward. By doing so, you can smoothly slide out the pin, freeing the item from the tag. This method ensures a seamless and hassle-free removal process.