When I first started working in Loss Prevention about twenty-six years ago, I remember that the focus in our department was on keeping merchandise secure and if it was trendy or high priced clothing, minimize the quantities on the sales floor. I started out working in a department store that carried a number of high priced designer clothing lines, including Nautica and Polo. We had some electronic article surveillance security tags on clothes, but not in great quantities at that time. Mostly coats, suits and some dresses were protected with clothing security tags and those were usually in the higher price ranges. The departments would place stacks of men’s polo-style shirts on tables and my Loss Prevention Manager would complain and try to get the department to minimize the number of shirts displayed. Denim jeans posed a similar problem with their popularity and high prices. If we had access to the Checkpoint tags now on the market we could have secured more merchandise and been comfortable filling the floor.
Checkpoint tags are available in hard tag designs that can be clipped onto merchandise or soft tags with adhesive that can be applied to hang tags. All Checkpoint tags are radio frequency (RF) tuned so they will activate an Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) antenna if they are brought within range of the antennas. Stores that have EAS systems have deactivation pads at the point of sale for the soft tags and special detachment keys for hard tags. At the time clothing is purchased, tags are de-tuned or removed so the customer can leave without causing an alarm to activate on the antennas. Checkpoint tags are a strong visual deterrent to thieves, which, in itself prevents theft but the hard tags are especially popular since the designs make them extremely difficult to tamper with and damage merchandise if someone tries to pry them off.
The conundrum we were faced with at the time I started in Loss Prevention was one of availability of merchandise to the customer versus the very real necessity to protect again theft. When more products were placed on the floor, there were more opportunities for shoplifting, and especially what I called bulk shoplifting. Organized Retail Crime was not as well-known as it is today, but we still had criminals entering the store and stealing significant quantities of merchandise at one time. The store management wanted more items on the floor so people could have more to choose from and buy. We in Loss Prevention wanted fewer products on the floor so if a grab and run took place the shortage impact would not be as great.
There were a number of incidents that took place in our store that involved just this scenario. I had an occasion where two rather robust women entered out Polo department. They went to a display table with stacks of shirts on them and each took handfuls of shirts, rolled them up and concealed them under their clothing. The concealment was done quickly and no one in the department had a clue what had happened. After checking each other for anything that would indicate they had the stolen merchandise hidden on them, they proceeded to exit the store. Fortunately we made the apprehension, brought the shoplifters back in and recovered over $500 in stolen shirts.
Since we had no clothing security tags on the shirts, no EAS alarm sounded as they exited. Had we not been watching this high theft area on camera, the recovery would not have been made resulting in a financial loss to the store. We had a justification for wanting limited quantities of certain garments on the sales floor. Clothing security tags would have been a reasonable compromise between the needs of the store and the needs of Loss Prevention.
I encourage retailers today to use security tags on clothes to protect merchandise. There are a number of solutions to help reduce theft while increasing profit through product availability. Checkpoint tags are an affordable solution that can fit the needs of any clothing retailer.
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