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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.

ROI Cal­cu­la­tion

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.

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