Types of Security Tags Used in Retail Shops

by Denise Sullivan; Updated September 26, 2017

Security tags help retail stores cut down on shoplifting losses. Attaching a tag to the store's merchandise typically is more efficient than hiring additional employees to watch your customers as they shop. The sight of a security tag on an item also can make a potential thief think twice before taking it.

RFID Tags

Plastic security tags clip a radio-frequency identification chip directly onto an item. When the chip crosses the detection sensor, an alarm is triggered to alert store employees to the theft. These tags are available in many forms, such as gator, clam shell and golf ball. In these styles, the two sides of the tag interlock with each other to make it difficult for thieves to remove. Each type of interlocking clip may require its own special opening tool. In contrast, strip tags have an adhesive backing that sticks to a piece of merchandise.

Ink Tags

Ink tags are geared toward preventing shoplifting instead of triggering an alarm when a theft does occur. They typically are used on clothing items that would be ruined if stained with ink. When the tag is removed without the benefit of the tool the store cashier uses, a vial inside bursts and spills ink onto the item. The ink vials can be combined with standard RFID chips to provide an added level of protection. However, smaller stores often use ink tags alone to save on the cost of installing a detection system.

Specialty Tags

Certain types of specialty merchandise require their own customized security tag solution. For example, liquor bottle tags attach to the cap and set off an alarm when the cap is twisted open. Eyeglass security tags attach to the frame, usually at the temples or near the end of the earpieces. The thin design of the tags allow them to stick onto the glasses without interfering with a customer's ability to try them on. Shackle tags can be used to secure the handles of briefcases and purses.

Detection Systems

Without a detection system, security tags are useless. Detectors typically are placed on both sides of each of the store's exits. When the sensor passes the detectors, the alarm goes off. Most tags also can be programmed to set off an alarm if someone attempts to remove them without the proper tool. The detection system usually is connected to software that controls the sensitivity, volume and duration of the alarm. Sensormatic and Checkpoint are the two most commonly used retail security programs.

About the Author

Denise Sullivan has been writing professionally for more than five years after a long career in business. She has been published on Yahoo! Voices and other publications. Her areas of expertise are business, law, gaming, home renovations, gardening, sports and exercise.