Are Your Employees Suffering From EAS Desensitization?
By Matt Pillar, editor in chief
I set off the EAS alarm as I walked out of an electronics store last weekend.
The iPod, earphones, and iTunes gift card I had just purchased were in a bag in my right hand. My receipt was clutched in the other. As I walked back through the EAS corral, certain an associate would want to align the contents of my bag with the list on my receipt, a greeter standing fifteen feet away looked up and waved me on. Back through the corral I went, once again setting the alarm off as I left the store.
I found the experience especially interesting given that just a few days prior I was at the RedPrairie user conference, discussing EAS alarm desensitization with Brickstream VP of Business Development Steve Hornyak.
Some 80% of EAS alarms are false, Hornyak told me, and an even bigger percentage of EAS corrals are not networked. In effect, this means EAS efforts are stand-alone and store-specific, meant to do nothing more than send an audible message to consumers that, “Hey, we’re protecting our merchandise. Well, sort of.”
Perhaps the greeter who waved me out of the store last weekend determined from afar that I was honest because I came back into the store when the alarm sounded, or because I had kids with me, or I just looked to her like a nice guy. Still, I would argue that her nonchalant response to the alarm, which is no doubt her de facto response, does as much to desensitize other associates to alarm incidents as the sound of the alarm itself. Any alarm sound-no response equation that results in the same outcome several times per day as front-of-store associates go about their monotonous business will, in short order, degrade the level of discernment exercised by those associates.
Hornyak’s company sells technologies that help retailers gain consumer traffic and behavioral intelligence using video and traditional people counting solutions. He says retailers can get more out of their EAS infrastructures and combat the desensitization issue by marrying them with stereovision people counters that can discern directional travel. Simple integration allows the traffic counting device to tell the EAS system that the alarm should only be sounded when an active tag is detected leaving the store.
Cutting false alarms by the percentage of them caused when consumers walk into the store with tagged merchandise that was purchased elsewhere and improperly deactivated, so-called “tag pollution,” a key fob, or, in older EAS systems, an electronic device, will curtail a considerable volume of false alarms.
Networking EAS devices to enable central, enterprise-wide reporting also goes a long way toward boosting EAS efficacy. Without a networked solution, trends in EAS activity are difficult and inefficient to monitor and understand. There’s plenty of research out there that defends EAS as an effective deterrent to theft. The application of some modern technology can put a new shine on an old LP staple.