TECHNOLOGIES TO PREVENT SHOPLIFTING IN RETAIL STORES
According to The National Retail Security Survey, loss of inventory from stores due to shoplifting and employee theft cost the US retail industry nearly US $ 48.9 billion in 2016. Shoplifting has always been a major issue in the retail stores. It can be in the form of employee thefts, credit card and check frauds, burglaries, smash-and-grabs, thefts from open-air or covered market stalls, or by delivery personnel, vendor frauds, short-changing and other offenses. Retailers have been using many anti-theft devices since years to prevent shoplifting. Ankita Chowdhary, a student of Masters in Fashion Technology, NIFT, Delhi discusses the technologies available to prevent shoplifting.
The most effective antishoplifting tool that came in use was the CCTV and the tag and alarm system, better known as Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) system. EAS technology identifies the article as it passes through the entrance/exit of the store. It makes a beeping sound if the article is removed from the store in an unauthorised way.
EAS systems started being used almost everywhere as they did not have any restriction for items of any sizes. Using these EAS systems enabled the retailers to display popular items on the floor, where they can be seen and touched, rather than putting them in locked cases or behind the counter.
To give a brief overview of the functioning of the EAS system, each merchandise in the store is tagged with special RF tags and labels. These tags or labels are removed or ‘deactivated’ by the clerks at POS either after billing or before billing. The deactivation is done either by using a ‘Label Deactivator’ or a ‘Detacher’. The cashier uses a ‘Detacher’ which releases the pin or passes each product label across the ‘Deactivation Pad’. Once the merchandise is deactivated, shoppers can easily pass through the exit doors without triggering any alarm. If the antennas sound an alarm, it means an active tag is passing by.
These antennas are placed on the doorways of the stores. On one side is a radio transmitter which constantly beams out radio waves to the antenna on the opposite side which contains a radio receiver.
When a shoplifter walks through the antennas, the RF tags attached to the merchandise get activated and transmit a radio wave of their own at a precise frequency which is picked by the receiver gate as it now identifies its frequency. If the frequency is correct, the gate figures out that a stolen item is moving through and sounds the alarm. That is why these tags are removed before the merchant passes through the antennas.
However, these RF tags still fail to identify the merchandise stolen, so a demand for more advanced system was realised which led to the development of RFID tags.
The RFID tags were comparatively advanced because when radio signal is transmitted, they contain a digitally encoded identifier which can uniquely identify the products. A computer attached to the scanner does the rest. Unlike RF tags, these RFID tags work over much shorter distances such as 10cm (4 inches) or less. The major brands that sell the RFID antitheft devices are Great Eastern, Alien Technology, RFID4U, Sekura.
EAS systems help in preventing inventory shrinkage due to shoplifting and other reasons. Thus, the generation of immediate demand due to unavailability of product can be avoided which results in sales loss.
But, EAS was not a fullproof tool to prevent theft. This is when the ink tags came in, where the ink spreads on the hand of the shoplifters and the merchandise when trying to remove it forcefully.
RFID with Orientation Independent Detection (OID)
With the rapid growth of retail, there was a need for an advanced system which can not only prevent shoplifting but also provide information about the merchandise, customer flow and in-store security system. This new technology has been a combination of RFID & OID
With the rapid growth of retail, there was a need for an advanced system which can not only prevent shoplifting but also provide information about the merchandise, customer flow and in-store security system. This new technology has been a combination of RFID & OID (Orientation Independent Detection) which provides security independent of the location.
(Orientation Independent Detection) which provides security independent of the location.
RFID with OID are smart antennas which are equipped with smart electronics that offer an outstanding label detection performance along with a detailed insight into the store operations. When an item is shoplifted, they not only trigger the alarm but also notify the manager about the theft on his mobile phone.
These OID-based systems significantly improve the detection rate. They provide real time insight and control with local and enterpriselevel dashboard. Apart from this, they also allow for advertisements as these antennas are designed with an integrated poster space. These spaces are generally sold to their suppliers so that they can promote their brand or products, thus generating more revenue.
The OID systems also maintain a record of customers entering the store, the time period for which the customer stayed in the store, and what he/she purchased. With the collected information, the retailers can calculate their conversion rate and also identify the peak times, slow times, and therefore the number of staff needed to serve customers. They even give a quick insight into the behaviour of staff members, customers and systems in all connected stores and help figuring out that area of concern within the store which needs attention. This information is available 24/7 on any web browser and mobile which makes monitoring remote store locations easy, limits security risks and maximises the performance.
The new technology also comes with metal detection capability of integrated foillined bag metal detection. The major brands selling these devices are Nedap and Tyco Retail Solutions.
Nedap is the leading specialist in systems for long range identification, wireless vehicle detection and city access control. Nedap’s !D Cloud software suite is a Software-as-a-Service solution specifically developed for retail RFID applications. It offers retailers the quickest route to implement RFID and improve their in-store stock accuracy to over 98 per cent. Real-time insights into the stock levels and the exact location of each item also enable the successful introduction of omnichannel services.
Tyco Retail Solutions ensures optimal merchandise protection, drive down shrink and preserves one’s bottom-line profits. The technology is built on high performance acoustomagnetic (AM) technology, which is considered to be one of the most reliable anti-shoplifting technologies in the retail industry. This detection technology helps in protection of wider exits, identifies jammer devices and booster bags and maximises performance with virtually no false alarms. These systems
can be used to identify the potential shoplifters, as well as help to prevent organised crime.
The change in retail has led to the need for a better level of security in every corner of the store, as the increase in the shopfloor area makes it difficult to keep an eye on the shoplifters. The OID technology gives real time information to the employees on their phone no matter where they are. All these factors lead to greater profit being earned by the company. Though such advanced technology requires higher investment, it gives better and long-time return on the investment.
For calculation of ROI, we have assumed that the total number of garments in a store is 5,000. The exit and entry gates are same and therefore we require only one pair of antenna in this store. Two detachers are being used at the POS counter for the removal of hard tags that have been applied to the garments. There are 2 CCTV cameras installed which cost Rs 3,000 each. The cost of the basic-level antennas with the normal RFID system is assumed to be Rs. 50,000 while the antennas of the RFID OID technology are supposed to be of
Rs. 1,50,000. The cost of hard tags is Rs. 7 per piece and as there are 5,000 garments on the shopfloor, so the cost of hard tag is considered to be Rs. 35,000 in both the advanced and basic level as the hard tags used in both cases are the same. There are two detachers being used at the POS counter. The cost of the detacher is Rs. 2,000 each in the basic level and Rs. 3,000 each in the advanced level.