Introduced in the 1970's, originally in lending libraries to stop the theft of books, EAS has evolved and is now considered the technology that offers the very first line of defence against shop theft and with the exception of the supermarkets channel, EAS pedestals can be found at the exit and entrance of most hypermarkets, home improvement retailers, drug stores, apparel and fashion stores, department stores and specialty such as Auto-parts.
In terms of technology, in the first instance came Electro Magnetic tags, these were strips of metal that neatly sat inside books. Today, only two EAS technologies are present, Acousto Magnetic (AM), and Radio Frequency (RF). Each has their advantages and disadvantages, with each retailer making their own decisions. In the US for example, Walmart chose AM, Target chose RF. In the UK, Boots chose AM, Tesco chose RF. In some countries, and channels, for example French grocery retailers, the majority, if not all, chose RF.
EAS can be applied at the source of production (source tagging) or in the store. When applying at the source, soft tags are preferred as they are easier and simpler to apply to bottles, health & beauty products, meat, etc. Soft tags are disposable and will go home with the shopper [deactivated]
On the other hand, hard tags (for bottles, attached to safer cases, for clothes, etc) are more pre-disposed to a local application given their size and the need to recycle this more expensive hard tag. However, the apparel retail sector have identified a recycling programme, whereby hard tags are applied in the garment factories, shipped to stores and then returned to the garment factories.
One final step in the evolution of EAS has been the recognition of its limitations, and the industry is becoming much clearer that EAS is primarily aimed for, and most successful at deterring the opportunist thief, as opposed to the so called professional thief stealing for resale. To this end, when the industry thinks about soft tags, and source tagging, it has turned its attention to carrying messages on products that have EAS protection, that signal to the opportunist that these products have a security tag included.