in LPRC Reports

EAS Retail Theft Protection Systems An Issue Update Blackwood and Hayes 2003

EAS Retail Theft Protection Systems: An Issue Update

Robert Blackwood and Read Hayes, PhD
Key Words: EAS, ROI, deterrence, system execution, retailing, shoplifting
Since inventory losses partly caused by theft continue to plague retailers, many have implemented electronic article or asset surveillance systems (EAS) to help reduce shoplifting. Most retailers hypothesize that EAS systems should be used as a proactive, deterrent-based system that causes would-be offenders to refrain from stealing tagged items. Maximizing the effectiveness and financial return on these capital investments requires ongoing, careful system implementation and management. This paper assesses the perspectives of 12 US retailers on the impact and management of EAS systems, with a special focus on possible system software and hardware enhancements. Retailers indicated they tag between 1.3 and 65% of their items in between 1 and 100% of their stores. At least six of 12 subjects reported using source tagging. While positive financial returns on investments in EAS are expected, only 25% of this study’s sample reported conducting systematic analysis of expected returns. All retailers believe their systems work as anticipated, but 4 of 12 study participants listed a lack of definitive feedback on why the EAS alarm is activating as the leading weakness of their system. Nine of 12 companies still use EAS alarm logs to record activity, but only one analyzes the data for patterns and opportunities.